Michelle is the founder and Executive Director of Alberta AdaptAbilities Association, a registered charity providing special needs children and young adults with a variety of quality programs that target the development of the whole individual, while providing peace of mind to the families in the stress of everyday challenges. Michelle is an alumnus of the PeerSpark™ program.
This past year, Michelle had the amazing realization that AdaptAbilities is much larger than she thought it was. The company has been growing so quickly over the last five years that you can now literally see it bursting and poised for expansion in Michelle’s old home, where more than twenty of her employees work. Michelle has now moved across the street with her family and is patiently awaiting their much needed 7,000 square feet of new office space to be ready.
She decided to take part in the PeerSpark™ program in order to gain some insight on creating structure and strategy for the business in this period of growth, but more than that, she said “it was about me being lonely as an entrepreneur and not having anyone to talk to as I was facing challenges in building my business.”
“For me, one of the biggest things [I took away from the program] was coming to a realization that it’s okay not to have all the answers. That’s hard to say out loud. I felt vulnerable, but the PeerSpark™ program helped me to realize I was actually just stepping into uncomfortable territory and that’s courageous, not shameful. That to me was a ‘wow’ moment.”
She also spoke about the benefits of surrounding yourself with peer mentors. “People don’t get to where they are on their own, successful people get to where they are because of the people they surround themselves with. [The PeerSpark™ program] is great because it’s peer to peer, and everyone has their strengths. I can gravitate towards the person who has more experience than me, and I can also lend my experience to the person just hiring their first employee. We’re all at different places along the journey but we can all support one another.”
“It gives you time to pause,” she reflected. “When do I ever have time to just pause and think about human resources or operational efficiencies? When I took time to pause and reflect at our monthly meetings it caused me to think about those things that I might not have otherwise.”
AdaptAbilities is doing incredible things for the respite industry and Michelle sees so much need for their programs, first within every Edmonton community, and then outwards to help other cities and rural areas in Alberta and beyond.