We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Lake and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
It all started with two PTA co-presidents, a parent volunteer, and a board. This PTA board was determined to change the lives of parents, teachers and students, at a small school, in a low-economic and underserved area, in Decatur, Ga. They had little resources, money or support. But they successfully organized fundraisers, parenting programs, hosted events, and engaged the local community. The school prospered. Years after the school closed down, and each went their separate ways, the two PTA co-presidents, and the parent volunteer, re-united, along with another driven, and determined mother, and decided we needed to start a business that could function like they worked with PTA, but on a larger scale. They wanted to serve the needs of their communities, at large and expand it across the state of Ga, and eventually into other states across the country. We had a launch party on March 24th, 2018 and immediately started hosting community programs and events.
All of these mothers, have shown a remarkable passion, for advocating for their own children’s educational and medical needs, as well as, working with other families, to share knowledge, about services, programs, and tools, in their local areas. Each mother, had a unique connection, and experience to offer, either having one, or more children, with a disability, and/or, working with disabled, impoverished, or underserved populations, in various capacities. At the heart of their experience, they knew, as mothers, the struggle of advocating for their own children and themselves, as parents. The process was sometimes difficult, slow, and frustrating. Finding resources to improve their children’s lives, was hard. Knowing where to go and what to do, was even harder. It seemed almost daily, they were being approached by other parents, asking how they got accommodations, and other resources for their kids. they knew this had to be how they imprinted their communities.
After many years of volunteering at schools, and other organizations, and working with all types of families, individually and collectively, they finally came back together. It became evident, that they shared a common bond, and a desire to impact their local areas, by providing education, advocacy, and empowerment. These mothers had a simple goal: to help other families get access to local, community, state, and federal programs and services, and receive the much needed support, and direction, to go after what they required. Telic Empowerment was born out of first hand experience and compassion for families with disabled children and young adults. We continue to expand our services based on the ongoing needs of our population and our determination to educate the families and the community on disability awareness.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We are founded by a group of mothers, with a passion for helping those that are misunderstood, underserved, and underrepresented. What sets us apart from other nonprofit organizations is all of the founders have a unique personal perspective and commonality with the families that we serve. We all have a child with a disability and/or have a disability of our own and know first hand what it is like to need information, education, resources, support and help, and not be able to access it or advocate adequately for ourselves to get what we needed for our disabled children. We learned to use our personal experiences to fuel our passion and provide needed compassion for the families that need the services and programs that we offer. It has not been easy. We realized that without extensive business knowledge, professional consultants were necessary. We have overcome so many challenges. In our first year, the 4 founders suffered many personal struggles that would normally cause a start-up to close it’s doors. We only had $100 to start the organization with, we suffered and comforted each other thru miscarriages, family deaths, job losses, and strained marriages. But we were determined to press forward and continue the work that we started. We volunteered countless hours creating monthly programs, writing out protocols and processes, ethical standards and promising one another that we would never compromise our morals, keep God and family first, and also stay teachable and accountable. We learned how non-profits operate by attending trainings, learning from consultants, and researching other successful non-profits so we could learn from their model. We want the world to know that Telic means ” moving forward towards a goal with purpose”, and we intend to remove the negative stereotypes about disabilities, provide hope, education and support to families affected by disabilities, and teach communities to respect, acknowledge and accept people that are different. We are going to empower families to advocate for themselves, create goals for their disabled child, and we will teach them how to access and achieve success purposefully and intentionally. Telic Empowerment will be a household name. It will expand across the state of Georgia, then across the nation and eventually across the world.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Some of our favorite spots in the city is Ponce City Market, Little 5 Points, Auburn Avenue, and Atlantic Station. We would definitely spend a day or two at each of these spots. I would take them to eat at Slutty Vegan, and see the artwork along the Atlanta Beltline one day, hit up Krog Street market, and maybe even see a game at Mercedes Benz Stadium. We would learn black history and see the civil rights struggle and fight at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center and tour his birth home as well as the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Maybe spend one day downtown riding the Skyview Atlanta, and check out the Coca-Cola museum or the Aquarium. Since we don’t have a headquarters, most of our week is spent having meetings in different restaurants, and different parts of the city, and hanging out in different areas.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Our story starts with a common interest in our school PTA, but our organization became a non-profit and was truly brought to life by a very special individual named Yakima Douglas, owner of YCD Consultants. Each of the the founding mothers are educated working moms and wives that hold Bachelor and Master degrees in different fields of study, but we do not hold business degrees. We did not know the first thing about how to get a business started or how to run a non-profit organization. But one thing we are not hesitant about is seeking help and securing professional consultants to help us navigate the areas that we are not knowledgeable and need coaching and mentoring. Since we started the organization, we have found such great favor with people, businesses and corporations that are willing to donate their time, services, and their expertise. The first individual who learned about our story and listened to our business proposal was Yakima. She saw something in us and encouraged us to pursue our vision and expressed her support and her desire to push us forward. She motivated us to dream big and to organize our plans so they could become a reality. She is a small business consultant and had experience helping non-profits complete their IRS paperwork to become recognized and approved with the federal government as a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization. She charges a fee that as a start-up business we were unable to pay, but was the first person willing to donate her talents to ensure we could make our dream happen. If it wasn’t for her expertise, we may not have been able to complete all of our non-profit paperwork as soon as we did and become an official non-profit in the same year that we started. Her ability to translate our vision and complete all of our initial paperwork gave us an outline and blueprint for our entire business and is still the foundation we work from today. She believed in us when no one knew our name, and that motivated us to move forward in faith and continue to pursue our purpose.
Youtube: Telic Empowerment
Melissa V Photography