Van & Ann Lankford, Owners
Van and Ann Lankford See Home Instead as a Ministry
Some of life’s major events can be explained only through a spiritual lens. During an online search one night, Van Lankford, a former pastor, saw an advertisement for a senior home-care franchise opportunity. On May 16, 2011, Van began operating Home Instead® of Mount Airy. On May 16, 2021, Van and his wife, who retired from teaching in 2014 to help her husband, celebrated 10 successful years as Home Instead franchise owners. They are going stronger than ever and remain amazed by the opportunity to help Surry County seniors. “Really, it boils down to being a ministry,” they said.
The Lankfords, of course, did not know more than 13 years ago that their family caregiving challenges also were the first steps toward Home Instead ownership and a new future. When Van needed help caring for his father in 2008, he was directed to the Home Instead office in his hometown. Van is an only child, and his father was a widower.
“Mom died in 2007 and Dad was her primary caregiver. They depended on each other. After a while, following Mom’s passing, Dad really needed help. Family members started calling me about Dad with their concerns. They told me about his calls for help for food, including picking up fast food for him. His grocery list included snack food. I should have seen the signs earlier,” Van recalled.
“I didn’t know what to do. I talked to my dad by phone every day. We lived an hour’s drive away, and I visited once a month. One day, in the summer of 2008, we had a serious talk about his needs, including nutrition. His bathing was ‘bird baths.’ He was afraid to take a full shower because he had back trouble and was a fall risk. That day, at the senior center nearby, I asked for help. People told me, ‘You need to go to Home Instead.’ I met Home Instead owner Michael Goodman, who had run the Wilkes County franchise for three years. He was helpful, and I got services for my father. They gave such excellent care.”
Van added: “So, Home Instead is very personal to me and my wife. We understand what sons and daughters are going through. They love their parents, but they are pulled in so many different directions just as we were. My dad died in 2009, but he was able to remain at home until the final two days of his life, which was a blessing.”
In December of 2010, Van learned that the Home Instead office in Wilkes County wanted to expand their territory and start an office in Mount Airy. In March 2011, Van went to work in Michael Goodman’s Home Instead office. “I got to observe the whole operation, caregiving, scheduling, marketing, just everything you’d need to know as an owner,” Van said. “Michael mentored me. In May 2011, I hit the ground running in Mount Airy and soon hired four CAREGivers the first week we were open. Then I picked up our first clients. Ann helped over the summer until she had to go back to school. In August, it got busy, and I felt blessed. Angela Allen, who is now our office manager, came aboard to help after Labor Day 2011 as our administrative assistant. We were off and running!” In June 2012, Van and Ann purchased the Mount Airy office from Goodman.
In 2012, Ann went to the Home Instead International Convention in Omaha and was so inspired that she wanted to retire earlier than first planned to join Van in the office as the co-owner.
Ann recalled: “I wanted to retire and come to Home Instead immediately, but I was told by the school system that I was too young to retire so I taught one more year. I retired in 2014, we sold our house and moved to Mount Airy. Our area is beautiful. We want to stay here. We love Mount Airy, and we love the people.”
The Mount Airy franchise office has a family feel to it. The Lankfords are most appreciative of their CAREGivers and office staff. “We still have CAREGivers with us who I hired in 2011. With so much turnover in our industry, we are very proud of this,” said Van. There has been very little office staff turnover. Three office staff members first came to Home Instead as CAREGivers. Since caregiving is at the heart of what Home Instead does, the Lankfords feel that those who have a heart for caregiving add so much to their administrative staff. “We’re very appreciative of their continuity and longevity. We love our staff. They do a great job. Three were CAREGivers, and we saw something special in them, so we invited them to work in the office. When there is a need in the office, we look to our CAREGivers first to fill it. Our CAREGivers are our heroes!” Van said.
Joining the Home Instead staff are the Lankfords’ two dogs, Snickers (Shih Tzu) and Sadie (Shih-Poo). “I read an article a few years back on LinkedIn that talked about the positive benefits of bringing your dogs to work with you. The article spoke about how dogs are natural stress-relievers and how they improve the overall morale of the office environment. We feel fortunate to be able to this, and our staff really spoils them,” Van said.
Van and Ann have two adult children. Their daughter, Molly, is Registered Nurse at a local hospital and lives with her husband, Alan, in State Road. Their son, Evan, is a Marketing Account Manager at a large automotive company and lives with his wife, Jessie, in Greensboro. They have one granddaughter, Savannah “Vanna” Brooke Hudson.
The Lankfords are active in their community. They attend Piney Grove Baptist Church, and Van speaks at area churches when the opportunity arises. “I enjoy helping out at churches in the area when there are opportunities. I am glad to be able to share my ministry experience after serving the church for 23 years,” he said. Van is also a member of the Board of Directors of The Shepherd’s House and the Surry County Alzheimer’s Walk Committee, and he has served on the Surry County Arts Council Board. Van also has been a Rotarian for 20-plus years, is currently active in the Mount Airy Rotary Club and will serve as District 7690 Governor in 2023-2024. Van and Ann also have volunteered at Surry Medical Ministry.
Their biggest ministry, of course, is Home Instead. “The bottom line is that we had such a great experience with Home Instead as far as care for my father goes. We want to be able to help people who are in the same situation we were in and offer them the best care for their loved ones,” Van said.
Van is available by phone at (336) 789-4472 or by email at email@example.com.
Ann is available by phone at (336) 789-4472 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org