Bishara Family Establishes CICOA Professional Development Fund

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Philanthropists Rafik and Patricia (Pat) Bishara have established a new Professional Development Fund at CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions. The fund aims to bolster CICOA’s workforce by hiring and retaining talented employees and enhancing their ability to serve clients effectively. The fund will be replenished annually, providing staff with opportunities for continuing education, credentialing, licensure programs, and degrees that could lead to advancement within the organization.

The fund honors Erica Seabaugh, a former care manager for Pat’s parents, Chester and Barbara Storch. Erica was named CICOA’s Vice President of In-Home Services in 2023 in recognition of her professional expertise and entrepreneurial achievements. She co-founded Postbook, an intergenerational postcard exchange and keepsake journal aimed at reducing social isolation among older adults, which received a 2023 Innovation and Achievement Award from USAging.

Empowering a Diverse Staff

“My motto is ‘Educate, educate, educate and educate,’” Rafik said. “Good education allows CICOA to serve its clients better and allows its educated staff to grow and prosper within the organization.”

CICOA’s commitment to nurturing talent was recognized recently when it ranked third on the Indy Star’s Top Workplaces 2024 list in the large business category and received a specialty award for training.

“The Bishara gift helps us invest in the futures of a diverse staff, with an emphasis on our female employees,” said CICOA CEO Tauhric Brown. “By empowering a predominantly female staff with educational support, we’re unlocking potential, fostering a culture of upward mobility, and crafting future leaders who will redefine success within the organization.”

About the Bisharas

Rafik and Pat Bishara met in 1960 when Pat, an American living abroad, traveled from her home in Madrid, Spain, to visit her mother’s family in Egypt. The two became pen pals until their marriage in 1968. Rafik immigrated to the United States in 1967 and began working as an analytical chemist at Eli Lilly in Indianapolis. Pat took a job in Lilly’s International Division as a bilingual secretary.

While at Lilly, Rafik earned a master’s degree in phytochemistry at Butler University and a doctorate in bionucleonics/radiation biology at Purdue University. He retired from Lilly in 2004 as the Director of Quality, Knowledge Management and Technical Support. Today he remains actively engaged in technical advising for the handling, storing and secure distribution of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

Partners in Care

Among the couple’s shared values was respect for the aged and a commitment to caring for their parents. After Pat’s parents were diagnosed with dementia, the Bisharas were referred to CICOA. Chester and Barbara became clients, with Erica as their care manager.

”I called Erica our red-haired angel because she was kind, patient, caring, well-informed and showed us available resources. Erica’s periodic visits with Pat’s parents were always helpful and welcomed,” Rafik said.

“So much about being a care manager is learning about the specific needs of each individual client and their family,” Erica said. ”We use the term ‘person-centered,’ but it primarily means being flexible and willing to adapt to each person’s needs and goals. Pat was such a wonderful hands-on partner to me in trying to navigate how to best meet the needs of her parents and support them at home.”

Pat and Rafik became grateful donors, with Rafik later serving two terms on the CICOA Foundation Board of Trustees from 2014 to 2020. Rafik also received training as a care partner/caregiver through CICOA’s Dementia Friends Indiana program.

“I’m so grateful to the Bishara family for their continued friendship and support of the organization through the years,” Erica continued. “It makes me feel good to know that I had an impact on the family, but I think it’s important for our staff to understand that just by continuing the great work they do every day, they can have that monumental impact on others when they need it most.”

Professional Development Fund Scholarship Eligibility

Eligibility for Professional Development Fund scholarships will be determined by a committee comprised of Erica, Flourish Care Management supervisors, and representatives from Human Resources and the CICOA Foundation. Any staff awarded the scholarship must sign an agreement to remain at CICOA for a minimum of two years after their educational program ends.

“The Bisharas have provided a wonderful opportunity to support our staff in a new and unique way,” Erica said. “We hire a lot of people from diverse backgrounds with a high school education or a GED. To have this fund available to help them get a certification or work towards a degree program helps us better support employees through their career path, and hopefully they remain with us a long time.”

You Can Help Make a Difference

In recent years, Pat has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Among the Bisharas’ priorities is helping various chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association by speaking at fundraising events and writing articles to educate readers about health resources. They also continue to generously support CICOA.

Rafik quotes from the words of Jesus, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

Join the Bishara Family with a generous gift to express appreciation and gratitude to the CICOA staff who have made a difference in your family’s lives. Donate now or contact the CICOA Foundation to discuss other ways to give.

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