Est. 1980
a sunshine agency
a sunshine agency

Serving in Riverside County

San Francisco Examiner, 1985

Palo Alto-Anne Brown, a mid level manager in a high pressure job, heard her young son coughing in his room as she bedded down for the night. Her anxiety was two fold: was the boy getting sick? Would she have to cancel her presentation at work tomorrow.

Next morning in her scramble to get to work on time, Brown put her hand on the child's forehead and decided he was well enough to go to day care. She dropped him off with a kiss and a silent prayer.
At 10 am, the day care center phoned your child is running a low grade fever, come and pick him up immediately.

For Anne Brown and countless other women juggling careers and motherhood, this is a worst case scenario in the battle of priorities. Day care arrangements fall through when a child falls ill.
Susan Poncurak is one of very few people on the peninsula filling this child care gap. Her company, Sunshine Sitters, Domestics and Home Health Care, provides home care for moderately ill children or emergency back-up care if nanny has to be out. Its for children who don't need a nurse, but are not well enough for day care or school.

Paul Prett, associate director of child care coordinating council of San Mateo, say there is a definitely a need for some thing like that. He said his agency is trying to get employers to allow parents to take time off to care for sick children, but in the mean time he said, parents need to have alternatives.
In addition, to caring for sick children, sunshine sitters sends sitters to hotels, conventions and special events.

Although, Susan's service is geared for moderately sick children, Poncurak says her people are not licensed nurses or nurses aids.

They do not give medication or provide medical care. Although they will they will take a child to the doctor or clinic if the parent requests it, and if the child gets sick at school or day care the sitter can take the child home from school. The service also provides vacation and overnight care, group child care or conventions, homemaker service, senior companions, mothers helpers and pet sitters.
Poncurak, who is single and has no children of her own, says she has taken care of children part time for years while doing other administrative jobs.

It fills a gap for me, Susan said. She started Sunshine Sitters Service in Houston Texas, as a part-time business in June of 1980. Before long it was a full time proposition. Her clients included guests at Houston Hotels, including Walter Cronkite's grand child and members of film crews for Terms of endearment. The four C's Council, the resource center at Stanford University, choices for children and the Children's Council of San Mateo County. Refer parents to sunshine sitters as an option.

Sitting with the young and the old
Houston, Texas 1983

Sue Poncurak has spent most of working life pounding away at a typewriter for various companies in California and Houston - until one day when she looked up from her desk and realized that she was very bored.

Poncurak had moved to Houston because she heard that it was the boomtown of the sunbelt. So a year ago she decided to take advantage of the commercial energy here and started her own business - Sunshine Sitter Service.

Although, Poncurak began with two employees, herself and her mother Jean Poncurak, she currently has over fifteen people who will care for children and senior citizens in hotels or homes. Housesitting is also available, she says.

In the past few months Poncurak found herself in luxury hotels as well as caring for a posh River Oaks home with a staff of servants. Even though it's scary starting your own business its more interesting than staring at a typewriter all day.

While her business is a relatively new one, Susan stresses that she is not a beginner in sitter service.

I lived in California for about thirty years, and it was there that I began to baby-sit for people on a part time basis. She recalls it was a very lucrative sideline and enabled me to take vacations. Plus I love children, and since I don't have any of my own, that was a good way to keep in touch with the younger generation.

When Susan considered opening a sitter service in Houston, a preliminary study informed her that none of the existing services were connected to hotels.

I figured that would be a perfect combination. So many people come from out of town on vacation or business, and they often have to bring there families, She says. When you want to go out at night, that can pose a problem!

When Susan first contacted the hotels, they were less than enthused, but as more and more conventioneers with families came into town, Poncurak's sitting service began to make sense to them. Now her sitters, work with the Adams Mark, Four Seasons, Stouffers and the Galleria Plaza, among others.

Poncurak's Sitting Service has led to some interesting experiences she says.

Once she was taking care of a little red headed kid with what she thought was freckles. After about 30 minutes he got friendly and started talking about his chicken pox.

Well I'd never had the chicken pox or measles. I called a local emergency ward to see what I should do. They told me to relax because there was nothing to be done. I already had been exposed and I would most likely catch it. It turns out that they were no longer contagious. I spent a few worried hours though.

When Susan's business first started, her phone rang off the wall with calls from senior citizens. They really needed help for all kinds of things. Sometimes it was just going to the store. Other times it was for a little companionship, like lunch or going out to the movies. She says, my mother does most of the work with the older folks and it is very rewarding. Recently we took a half blind older woman out to lunch at the Stouffer's hotel and she just had a great time. She was about to go into a nursing home and her family wanted her to have some nice memories before leaving.

Poncurak says that she interviews her staff as carefully as the people they sit for. My top priority is that I hire caring people because after all that's what its all about. Sunshine's motto is a smiling face and I always stress that I think it's important to keep clients relaxed because than they feel confident that you can do a good job. Besides, I enjoy what I do. Not only have I been to some interesting places, it makes me feel good to know that I'm helping people.

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