Ashlee Glowacki and Kristy Schindler first considered opening their own business in March 2020, and they wasted no time making their goal a reality. Vitality Youth Services, a small business providing in-home and community-based care to help kids with disabilities become more independent, officially opened in Monroe, Wisconsin, in September.
Their business meets a real need in the community as there are no similar services offered in Green County. Vitality Youth Services has a shorter wait list and offers more for families than similar businesses outside of Green County. Ashlee, Kristy and their staff provide respite services for parents and caregivers as well as supportive home care, parent education, community integration services and daily living skills training for children with disabilities.
Like most new business owners, Ashlee and Kristy had to overcome obstacles, and financial hurdles proved to be a real challenge. “Our start-up costs were greater than we expected. Opening during a pandemic also presented additional challenges with sanitation and distancing needs. Since we work with insurance companies for some payments, our income is not as immediate as in other industries.” But the two women found the silver lining. “The time we were forced to work from home actually gave us the time to research what we really needed to do,” Ashlee said.
The business has partnered with local organizations in lots of ways. The Green County Family YMCA offers physical space for some of their programming, and Green and Rock County Human Services are frequent partners as well. The business itself is part of Main Street Monroe, an organization focused on economic development in the area, and Kristy and Ashlee are both members of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce. In fact, it was a relationship with the Green County Development Corporation (GCDC) that helped the two owners get started.
Cara Carper, Executive Director at GCDC, referred Kristy and Ashlee to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for guidance with financial projections and a business plan. “Working with Kristi Smith at the SBDC was so helpful. We learned a lot and we are still learning. We had the skills and industry knowledge and experience, but we needed direction on the business side of things.”
Accomplishments with Southwest Wisconsin SBDC:
- Financial projections
- Business strategy
- Business plan
Kristi Smith, a consultant at the Southwest Wisconsin SBDC, said, “The co-owners have lots of vision and will to succeed. They know there is a real need for these kids in the community, and they are determined to meet it.” In fact, Vitality Youth Services is growing bigger and faster than the owners expected and they have many goals for the future.
Kristy Schindler is currently finishing her master’s program in clinical mental counseling and soon the business will add mental health services to their offerings. They are also working toward increased collaboration with area schools. In a few months, the pair is planning to offer summer respite camps in both Green and Rock Counties, and they hope to establish a youth center in Green County in the near future.
The owners’ passion for what they do is evident, and they have a vision for their long-term future as well. They plan to further develop the business and eventually expand to other counties since there are lots of families and kids with disabilities in need of the services. Vitality Youth Services looks forward to helping as many children and families as they can.