Barbara Mintzer

What does independence mean to you? Barbara Minzter is a fireball of a woman, even up to the blaze of her reddish-brown hair. She exudes an emphatic zest for life. Hers has been a journey of fierce independence and new beginnings. She has spent her working life embracing the challenges of achieving many firsts – the first woman Fuller Brush man in San Jose, California; one of the first women to sell wholesale pharmaceuticals for a major drug company; and among one of the first women professional motivational speakers in the United States.

She describes herself as proudly self-reliant and credits some of that to her parents, who as Russian Jews, fled religious oppression at the turn of the last century to start a new life in America. They taught her the value of working for what you want and having faith in one’s self and God.

Looking through her father’s personal papers a while back, she discovered a government document that classified him as a subject of Russia. “He was not a citizen, he was a subject,” she says with dismay. “The czar could do anything he wanted with you; you were not free. I think we take our independence for granted. We don’t appreciate the obstacles others have had to overcome to get theirs.”

These days, however, Barbara’s biggest obstacle to independence has been the painful effects of arthritis in her hip. “Being active my whole life, my body could always go and go, but then it couldn’t,” she laments. “My tendency was to push through things, but the pain was too much. This was so not me.”

After two years of excruciating pain and injections, Barbara decided to move forward with a full hip replacement. But before that, on the recommendation of her physician, she visited VNA Health’s Loan Closet to get the necessary equipment for her recovery.

“I honestly believe that because of VNA HEALTH, I recuperated as well as I did. It was not only the equipment, but how compassionate and caring the staff was. I didn’t know what to expect. They ‘walked’ me through and helped allay a lot of my nervousness. They assured me—we’re here to help.”

Now, three months into her recovery, she is happily getting around the house without any equipment and is able to take long walks with a cane. “The first thing this surgery taught me was that independence is about mobility. More importantly, though, it’s also about the courage to be able to ask for help.”

She continues, “I never wanted to impose on anyone, but I’ve come to realize that we don’t go through this life alone. I have to say that when you have a wonderful resource like VNA Health, it’s okay to ask and to receive graciously. I am so appreciative and hope in some way to be able to give back.”

This Independence Day, please consider making a gift today to help us continue to be a source of hope and compassion for our community as we have for over 100 years. Your gift will help us care for people like Barbara who are facing medical challenges regain their own sense of independence.

Please don’t hesitate to call the VNA Health Foundation at 805.690.6290 or email us at