Deep Community Love

January 28, 2019

 

Deep community love is inspired by the game-changers in Deep River. The town is filled with everyday heroes that serve their community with their businesses, volunteering efforts, and other contributions. With this series, I'd like to show my admiration to those game-changers by sharing their stories with you.

 

Bonita: You have been running a very successful pet services business in Deep River for the last few years, can you describe the type of services you offer at Sit Stay Home Pet Services and how you got into this business?

 

Michelle:  I offer dog walking, cat sitting, potty breaks, doggy daycare in my home; house sitting while owners are away. I started this business 3 years ago after being a stay at home mom for 8 years. I wanted to go back to work but wanted a flexible schedule. I ended up taking over a cat sitting business from a friend and expanding it to offer services that I felt people could use. I have enjoyed meeting new people and animals of all kinds.

 

Bonita: I bet your business must introduce you to a lot of new people and animals! What are among the most rewarding things about your business?


Michelle: I didn’t expect to learn about so many exotic animals when I started. It is really fun learning about all kinds of animals so that I know what to expect when I take care of them. And the fact that I can help people feel comfortable enough to leave their animals in my care while they are gone is a huge amount trust that I have built with my clients. I have always loved helping people and this is that perfect way to accomplish this.


Bonita: Aside from operating your business daily, you also commit a lot of your time to volunteering for the community, can you please share some of your volunteering experiences? 


Michelle: I have volunteered over the years for FEN (Family Enrichment Network), Horticultural Society and now Mount Martin Ski Club. In this small town there are so many groups and clubs to get involved with. If you just pick one that you are interested in and go learn more about it you will be surprised at how little it takes to make a difference. I started with MMSC as the Social Convener and currently I am the Treasurer as well. I do have a background in Accounting so this is a good way to put my knowledge to use. Every club needs the support of the community, just get involved and see what fits your lifestyle. Contributing to the betterment of others is a great feeling. And seeing peoples happy faces at the hill enjoying something I have had involvement in gives me great joy, and is all I need to keep volunteering in my community.

 

Natalie aka real-life super woman! This inspiring lady not only owns one successful kombucha business but two other equally established businesses in photography and holistic nutrition & personal training. Natalie's story will echo how the power of following your passion can translate into rewards and achievements.

 

Bonita: You’re someone I’ve always adored and admired. You run more than one successful business, can you share how you got started with each one and what they are?

 

Natalie: First of all, Thank You! How sweet of you to say. I’ll start by saying it was never my intention to have more than one business let alone three, but I am someone who is always yearning for more. I have a thirst for knowledge and can’t seem to sit still for long. Photography has always been a passion of mine and growing up with my Dad being a photographer, I had an interest in taking pictures from the get-go. In my teens, I developed pictures in the darkroom in our house and that really got me involved in the process from start to finish. From a young age, I’ve always had a camera with me and can’t resist taking at least a picture a day. It may be a bit of an obsession, but I see beauty everywhere and capturing that has kept me grounded. 

 

My second sole business is Foods With Benefits in which I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Personal Trainer. This has been my longest passion, stemming from very early on with several food allergies as a kid, and a love of fitness and the outdoors. This past year, I’ve had to put this on hold again due to a back injury and quite honestly being too busy one thing had to give, but I never stray far from the world of nutrition. 

 

Laurentian Brew Kombucha started when one day Matt told me he wanted to start a kombucha brewery once he retired. I thought about it over the next day and came back to him and said, “Let’s not wait until retirement, let’s start a brewery now”. Within a week, we registered our business, created a name and logo, and signed up for the Deep River Farmers’ Market. We had been experimenting with a number of ferments over the years, and after trading some kefir grains for a kombucha culture (with Katie Wolk actually!) Matt really got into brewing kombucha. It went from one mason jar, to several jars, then to a large glass vessel, full size kegs, and then we ran out of room and had to renovate a commercial space. Its been quite the ride getting to the point that we are now. We had no idea where it would take us!

 

Bonita: With so much on the go, what is something that never fails to make you smile about what you do?

 

Natalie: There is something so rewarding about hearing the positive influence you’ve had in someone’s life. With kombucha, we’ve had people tell us about the difference our brew has made in their digestion and their energy and it’s just so heart-warming. The same goes for the difference nutrition has in your overall well-being. Seeing physical changes is one thing, but when a client comes back and tells you they haven’t felt this good in years, that’s the good stuff. I live for those moments. And of course, seeing my photos on someone’s wall is pretty touching. Even just those moments during the photoshoot. You’re let into people’s lives for a short time. You see the realness, the love, the laughter, the chaos, I just love being a part of it even if it’s just a moment in time. 

 

 

Bonita: There’s only so much time in a day, what is something you do to ensure that work does not take over you while taking time to practice health and wellness in your life?

 

Natalie: This is always a struggle for me. I sometimes let my work consume me and it’s an every day battle to keep balance. 90% of the time, I make sure I’m making healthy meals from scratch for the family. I really love to cook and trying new recipes so making sure we all eat well comes first. Last year I really buried myself and worked too much. Something always has to give. When you’re working too hard, your health gets ignored. I got injured and without exercise the weight really piles on. This year I have vowed to get my old self back. It’s a juggling act between family, self-care, work, and leisure but I try to maintain each of them. Lately I have committed to 20-25 minutes of exercising and additional stretching every day. It’s not much, but it’s totally doable. I’m planning to get back to yoga class again which is honestly my favourite exercise. With lovely instructors in town like yourself, there’s plenty to choose from and something for everyone. 

Bonita: You went from being a teacher to a localization manager at Thomas Thor. Can you share how the transition of career has been and what your new role entails?

 

Alison: For 15 years, I threw myself into teaching high school students at Mackenzie Community School, and I was truly passionate about my career. Then in 2017, I was faced with some difficult challenges – both professionally and personally – and I realized that I needed to give myself permission to take a break. I went away for a dream vacation, allowing me some valuable time to reflect, and when I arrived back home, I started looking for a new job. I wasn’t sure what this new job would look like, but as I read the job description for the role of localization manager contracted to CNL’s R&D Department, I felt like the job had been written for me. I was excited to apply, and even more excited when I got offered the position.

 

The job is varied and interesting, but like all new jobs, it’s not without its challenges. For the last 12 months, I have been learning about the nuclear industry, recruitment, Renfrew County, and more, and I still have a lot to learn.  Luckily for me, some very kind people have worked with me, patiently helping me get up to speed.   

 

My job involves attracting new employees to the area, helping them with the relocation process, and supporting them as they settle in to their new communities.

 

With the help of Das Studio, I developed a website for people relocating to Renfrew County, and the website is now being used by recruiters around the world to attract newcomers to CNL.

 

I’ve also started a Facebook group for newcomers to CNL where I post information about job opportunities, workshops, activities, and local events. On February 21st, I am hosting an event catered by Maven Catering (Connecting Creative Women) to welcome newcomers to the area and introduce them to leaders in the business community.

 

Bonita: You must be so proud of all that you have done in such a short amount of time! What aspect of your job is the most rewarding for you?

 

Alison: The most rewarding aspect of my job is meeting a huge variety of people who have moved here from around the world, and knowing I am making their transition to Renfrew County a little easier.  I experienced firsthand the challenges of moving to a new country as a young mother, knowing no one and feeling homesick, and I understand how important it is to have people reach out in friendship. I am very happy to be able to offer support to newcomers as they find their way around, and it’s exciting to watch them develop their own friendships and networks.

 

Bonita: With such a busy job, what are some things you do to help you maintain a healthy work life balance? 

 

Alison: I really loved my job as a teacher, but when two of my closest friends got diagnosed with cancer, I knew it was time for me to find a healthier work/life balance.  I was nervous about taking a break from teaching as it was such a huge part of my identity, but I knew that if I kept working at the same pace, I was also in danger of getting sick. Health and wellness are important enough that I chose to take a break from my chosen career. Even though I miss many aspects of teaching, I believe it was the right move for me.

 

I have learned a lot over the last couple of years about self-care, and I am getting better at not over-committing my time and energy. Sometimes life gets busy, but I still try hard to take time for myself, and I make sure to schedule time with friends and family. I still have lots to learn about achieving a healthy life/work balance, but I feel I’m getting better at making healthy choices and taking better care of myself.

 

The husband and wife team of Anupaya built one of the fastest growing businesses I know. This inspiring couple created this mission driven company that delivers quality goods you'll love and a strong mission that invites us all to give back to the planet earth. 

 
Bonita: Anupaya has quickly became a household name locally since its inception in August 2018. Can you please describe the mission behind Anupaya that so many of us resonate with? 

 

Shannon and Pete: Anupaya is an outdoor inspired apparel and goods company with a strong environmental stewardship initiative. Through our One Pound Promise we commit to taking care of our shared wild spaces by removing a pound of waste for every product sold by hosting and funding community cleanups across Canada and around the world. Anupaya (which means “the pathless path” in Sanskrit) was born from our conviction that we aren’t separate from Nature. We are intrinsically a part of Nature. And when we live life disconnect from this essential truth, we suffer and our environment suffers. And community? That's what it’s all about. It’s the whole dang point. We’re social creatures. When we come together and support each other, we grow stronger. We’re truly better together.

 

Bonita: What you guys are able to develop in such a short amount of time is inspiring! To see your community cleanups and ambassadors grow so rapidly is amazing to see. With so much good that cultivates within Anupaya, what is one thing that stands out to you both as the most rewarding achievements?

 

Shannon and Pete: Cleanups. By far, the most incredible and rewarding aspect of Anupaya is when we come together for our Community Cleanups. The cooperation, the camaraderie, the impact. Everyone leaves SO fulfilled. Do good, feel good.

 

Bonita: I can tell health and wellness means a lot to you both, how would you define that? 

 

Shannon and Pete: What does health and wellness mean to you? That’s a big question! I think Health and Wellness are the ground upon which a meaningful, connected and joyful life can be built. And it’s all connected - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. It’s empowerment and possibility.

 

Carolyn from Maven Catering is what a visionary looks like! Carolyn has built one of the most successful businesses I know; feeding delicious food and entertainment to keep the community vibrant and social! 

 

Bonita: Maven Catering is a household name in Deep River, can you please tell me what drove you to this industry and for those that do not know, in a few words can you describe Maven Catering?

 

Carolyn: Maven Catering is a small catering business offering lunches, dinners, catering for Office Meetings and Dinner Parties, as well as Weddings and any special event. I started Maven Catering because I love to cook and wanted to share my love of food with the Community. Catering gives me an opportunity to assist my clients with special moments in their lives, and allows me to create the Social Life I want in a small town by planning fun events for the community.

 

Bonita: What about your business makes you jump out of bed everyday?

 

Carolyn: The most rewarding part of my business is when I am able to introduce my customers to new exciting foods that they otherwise wouldn't have tried.

 

Bonita: I love that you keep reinventing the wheel with the diverse menus and events you create! It must be hard for you to shut off your brain, how do you prioritize health and wellness while running your growing business?

 

Carolyn: Health and Wellness to me means balance... which is something I am still working on. Making time for myself in a job that can take of many evenings and weekends can be difficult. I have a wonderful staff who are helping me to find that balance to partake in the activities I enjoy.

 

 

So excited to be featuring Erin from Big Brother and Big Sister (bbbs) on this blog! I collaborated with Erin on our fundraiser event and had the best fun raising money for the wonderful organization! This blog is about spotlighting visionaries that are here to make a difference and Erin does exactly that in her role at bbbs. 

 

Bonita: Every time I've seen you at your bbbs event you're hosting your genuinely beaming with joy and excitement! Your passion is so uplifting and so nice to be around. Can you give us a little background on bbbs and your role that you're so amazing at?

Erin: bbbs is Canada’s leading youth mentoring organization, in which bbbs of Renfrew County is a satellite office to bbbs Ottawa. we make meaningful friendships between caring adults and at at-risk young people (aged 6-24). these relationships take place in the community or at school, building up the “little’s” self esteem/confidence and ultimately giving them a dedicated, consistent and positive role model and friend. I’m the Mentoring Coordinator at bbbs of Renfrew County, the only staff working at the satellite office- in 2018, we served more than 60 kids, from Deep River to Arnprior and everywhere in between (compared to the 13 kids we served in 2016). My job is super busy, as I enroll the families, recruit/screen/train volunteers, create matches and monitor their minimum 1 year relationship, liaise with schools and community partners, manage the social media and run the events.

 

Bonita: That is a big job! Thank you for doing what you do! Your job is about giving back to kids and families, what are some things that keep pushing you forward, enabling you to keep making a difference in their lives? 

 

Erin: There are so many rewarding moments in my job- I’m SO blessed to have a job where it’s filled with positive moments. I love to hear how excited the volunteers are to be matched with a little brother or sister- these volunteers are exceptional people who want to give back to the community and are excited to enhance the life of their future littles. I love interviewing the families and hearing how grateful they are for bbbs to be available to them. I check in with each match approximately once a month, and hearing the testimonials make my smile a mile wide. The match is just as fun for the big as it is for the little- it’s incredible to hear how these relationships develop so quickly! We have matches that are almost in their 3rd year! I also love how supportive the community is- we love our partnering schools, businesses and organizations! We would not be nearly as successful without their support!

 

Bonita: We are blessed to have someone like you to lead such an incredible organization that gives so much to families! I am sure with a role like your's is hard to shut down, how do you maintain your positive energy, hectic role while managing your health and wellness? 

 

Erin: We have lots to keep us busy (event wise) throughout the year! We now host 4 clothing drives and one massive hockey tournament a year! September-June is absolutely hectic, so I rarely get to take time off during this time, so in the summer, I’m finally able to take my holidays, which allows me to rejuvenate and restore for the upcoming school year! As my job is super positive (and because I’m obsessed with it), I don’t find myself feeling burnt out. I do my best to create a work-life balance, which includes working long days to accommodate my matches, and taking off most Fridays. I’m naturally a high energy and passionate person, so juggling the busy role comes naturally to me- and I thrive off a busy schedule. To me, health and wellness means doing things for yourself that gives you joy and that fuels your soul- engaging in activities and relationships that enhance my life, not creating stress. It’s making the effort to get myself up and moving, and engaging in self care practices!

 

Carolyn from Maven Catering is what a visionary looks like! Carolyn has built one of the most successful businesses I know; feeding delicious food and entertainment to keep the community vibrant and social! 

 

Bonita: Maven Catering is a household name in Deep River, can you please tell me what drove you to this industry and for those that do not know, in a few words can you describe Maven Catering?

 

Carolyn: Maven Catering is a small catering business offering lunches, dinners, catering for Office Meetings and Dinner Parties, as well as Weddings and any special event. I started Maven Catering because I love to cook and wanted to share my love of food with the Community. Catering gives me an opportunity to assist my clients with special moments in their lives, and allows me to create the Social Life I want in a small town by planning fun events for the community.

 

Bonita: What about your business makes you jump out of bed everyday?

 

Carolyn: The most rewarding part of my business is when I am able to introduce my customers to new exciting foods that they otherwise wouldn't have tried.

 

Bonita: I love that you keep reinventing the wheel with the diverse menus and events you create! It must be hard for you to shut off your brain, how do you prioritize health and wellness while running your growing business?

 

Carolyn: Health and Wellness to me means balance... which is something I am still working on. Making time for myself in a job that can take of many evenings and weekends can be difficult. I have a wonderful staff who are helping me to find that balance to partake in the activities I enjoy.

Judy introduced me to the Chinese Association in Deep River when I first moved to the area and is also my lash extension esthetician for those that are curious where I get my lashes done! I've always admire Judy's commitment to her business. Working long hours to fit her clients in and dedication to her continuous training to make her one of the best esthetican I know! 

 

Bonita: Your experience in this industry is extensive, what made you decide to stop working for a big spa in Ottawa and to start your own business in Deep River?

 

Judy: I have been working as an esthetician for almost 17 years. I opened Glow Esthetics in January 2011 when I decided to pursue what makes me happy; which is offering a sense of happiness through my offerings at Glow.

 

Bonita: I see you often with my lash extension so I know how hard you work and how demanding your daily tasks can be, how do you find motivation to do what you do with so much love and passion?

 

Judy: Being able to satisfied my clients keep me happy and to put smiles on their faces are what motivates me. As hard as the work can be, it is still a great joy as I am genuinely passionate about what I do. The obvious perks of setting my own hours enables me t to spend more time with my family. I hope I’m setting a good example for my own children as they see the fruits of hard work and dedication. Because of my business, my children are expose to the opportunity to learn about managing your business, customer service, taxes, and leadership up close and personally. Again, it's all on my shoulders but I am lucky enough to work in a business I love and I really can't ask for any more than that.

 

Bonita: That is so wonderful, Judy! Aside from finding that balance between work and family time, what else do you do to prioritize your health and wellness?

 

Judy:  Health to me also means to be active and eating well. For example, like playing sports and going out for walks at a park. Being healthy is very important. Wellness to me means peace of mind and heart. That's what we're always striving for, and it really means spending time and being present.

River Runner is a new small business that is founded in Deep River by a Deep River girl who loves her town and the people in it! Allison is the mastermind behind River Runner; she serves her community daily with River Runner with a focus on the aging population. 

Bonita: You have structured your business around serving community members which I love! For those that haven't heard of River Runner can you share the type of services you offer?

 

Allison: River Runner is a Seniors and Personal concierge service I offer to the residents of Deep River and Laurentian Hills. Some of the services River Runner offers include; running errands, house sitting, wait services, transportation, home management and social home visits. I am a local Deep River girl, who has a love for this beautiful town I am proud to call home. To be able to provide a service that will benefit many of the residents in the community I grew up in gives me great joy and has inspired. 

 

Bonita: What a great idea! We can all benefit from a little help when life gets hectic for sure. What about operating River Runner that gives you the most job?

 

Allison: Besides the enjoyment of meeting new people, the most rewarding aspect about my business is being able to help maintain senior’s independence by keeping them in their own homes. Those who may have health or mobility issues may struggle with the tasks of grocery shopping and running errands, especially in inclement weather. My goal is to eliminate these tasks and reduce the risks of falls and illness to my clients while they stay safe and happy in the comfort of their own homes.

 

Bonita: What you offer is really a gift that keeps on giving because you're sparing time for your clients! Having extra time to our day means that we can prioritize ourselves and our health and wellness. What does health and wellness mean to you?

 

Allison: To me, health and wellness means taking time out of your day to focus on yourself. I know its difficult to find the time to do so in our busy lives. Self care and love do wonders for the mind and soul, and I think everyone should really ensure they are getting the time they need to recoup. There are so many ways to promote health and wellness; socializing, exercise and art just to name a few. With the services I offer through River Runner I am trying to spare up time for my clients, so they can do the things they enjoy doing… because really let’s face it who loves going grocery shopping after working all day? For the senior clients who don’t have many visitors throughout the week and may be feeling bored or lonely, my socializing home visits are great for changing up their routine and having a positive effect on their health and wellness.

 

Kris from HeLa Beauty and Medical was the first connection I made in Deep River and I credit her for feeding me the confidence I needed to officially launch Traveling Mat Yoga in town. With so much heart, I love that Kris is in the industry that she is in, beauty. She celebrates your individuality and reveals the hidden confidence within you. To learn more about Kris, her artistry, her inspiration, and mission I invite you to read my interview with her.  

 

Bonita: Tell us what ignited the spark in you to start HeLa Beauty and Medical?

 

Kris: Coming from the city, I was used to having advanced and trendy beauty services at my fingertips. When my husband and I moved to the Ottawa Valley 5 years ago, I really missed having those services and the feeling of being involved in the beauty industry. That's how makeup by Kristin started. I was very successful with the side makeup business, I eventually decided to add my permanent makeup service and cosmetic injections and re-brand as HeLa Beauty and Medical. Now I hope it will become a full-time career.

 

Bonita: That is amazing that you can pursue something you love and great at full-time! To me, serving the community comes in many forms, and your ability to celebrate inner beauty is an artistry and a way to serve those that want to look good but feel better. You can really capture someone's individuality with your work, how do you do it?

 

Kris: My main focus at HeLa is to help any individual celebrate what is beautiful about them. In the beauty industry, it is so easy to get caught up with comparisons, change and negativity about ones self. I focus on beauty that is there naturally and celebrate it by bringing it forward, help make it their feature.

 

Bonita: With your busy schedule operating your business and mommy to two beautiful boys, how do you find balance? Is health and wellness something you prioritize? 

 

Kris: To me, wellness means balance. I always feel like I have 4 quadrants in my life to balance; work life, home/family life, self care and fitness/health. For whatever reason, it seems I can only make 3 happy at one time, and one thing always seems to suffer. Balance, to me, is understanding which areas of my life need more attention. A lot of times this understanding and balance is challenging to understand, and Yoga definitely helps. It full-fills my areas of self care and health by balancing my body mentally and physically. I practice at times as part of a group, and in my warm up/cool downs to other fitness routines I have going on.

 

I hope you can sense Kris' generosity and passion from the interview! If you would like to learn more about her and her services, please join her at her Pembroke Mews location for her opening party along with Valley Roots hair salon on Friday, February 1st! 

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About Me

Hey, thanks for dropping by! I am Bonita, the Founder & Yoga Instructor of Traveling Mat Yoga. Traveling Mat Yoga was created from a place of courage, compassion, and enlightenment. I wanted to feed others what yoga fed me...

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Location

34 Pier Road, Deep River, Ontario

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