Anita Boyle, 96, sits across from her caregiver, certified nursing assistant Evangelista Reinoso, nibbles on a snack and recalls some of her college memories.

Reinoso listens with interest to the nostalgic tales, smiling.

Afterward, the two take a walk around Boyle's apartment building and eventually take a break in the library, joining hands as they sit to rest in chairs.

The relationship the women share is one in which VNA Home director Gus Thanasoulis takes pride.

"If you make that connection right, there's no better feeling. You can't put a price on that," Thanasoulis said.

He noted VNA Home has a 95 to 97 percent success rate on first introductions.

VNA Home, an affiliate of the New Milford Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice, opened in December.

It will celebrate its grand opening with a Thursday, April 24, open house party, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony, from 2 to 5 p.m. at its office at 1 Old Park Lane Road, Unit 1.

"What makes us novel? With our affiliation with the VNA & Hospice, there is nothing we cannot do in health care for the family and for the patient," Thanasoulis said. "We give people the same quality of care they've been used to from New Milford VNA and Hospice."

VNA Home, whose nonprofit status is pending, is a private care and home-duty agency geared toward people who need nonmedical care. It accepts private pay and long-term insurance policies.

The agency will meet with individuals and families whose loved ones need a little extra tender love and care and, depending on the need, arrange for a CNA or home health aide.

Help may be needed for bathing, transferring up and down, cooking and preparing meals, doing light housekeeping or laundry, changing linens, or providing transportation to appointments.

Supplemental care is available at health care facilities, too.

In addition, the agency has two geriatric care managers on staff, Dawn MacNutt and Shelby Baumer, who can help a patient and his/her family navigate some challenging tasks when caring for a loved one, such as understanding long-term care policies, special programs and eligibility requirements, available services and more, and identify the type of care that may best serve a patient.

"They allow us to provide more care in the community," said Thanasoulis of the geriatric care managers. "We get them out (in the field) to find out what (patients) need."

VNA Home staff will meet with individuals and families who seek services to talk extensively with the family before putting together a care plan.

"We're here to help (patients) to do what they cannot do, and to also encourage them to do what they still can do," Thanasoulis said.

He related a story of a VNA Home caregiver who encouraged a patient to put the ingredients for a meatloaf into a bowl to make the meal so it was the patient's meatloaf, not the caregiver's.

"One of the biggest battles in getting people to accept the care is for them to realize it's not taking away their independence," Thanasoulis said. "It will bolster their independence. That's very important to a person's psyche."

Part of a care plan is matching the patient and caregiver. This is done by meeting patients face to face and getting to know them, their hobbies, their likes and dislikes.

"We are a guest in someone's home," Thanasoulis said. "They need to be comfortable with whoever is going out (to see them)."

Thanasoulis said he will reach out to families, patients and caregivers to make sure all parties involved are comfortable.

He added he makes random visits to patients to see if a house is clean and safe, and how the patient is to "reinforce we're here."

Barbara Braverman is grateful for the care her mother, Boyle, is receiving through VNA Home.

"The beauty of VNA Home is that (Mom) is able to remain in her apartment and maintain a level of independence, while still getting the care and companionship she needs," she said.

"We're here to make a difference," Thanasoulis said. "I want the name VNA Home to be synonymous with providing the best care in the industry."

The director noted VNA Home is "continually looking for ways to serve the community."

Thanasoulis spent 25 years in the financial industry and six years in the health industry, leaving the former because he was "disgusted" by the lack of emotion, interaction and support in the care of some of his family members.

Today, he said, his "heart is in" his job. In fact, he moved to New Milford after taking the job because he "wanted to be in this area. ... I want (people) to know I am vested in the community."

For more information, call VNA Home at 860-946-6161 or visit www.vnahome.com.