A native Austinite, Debra Wissman first found St. Mark CDO as a parent when looking for a two-day program for her now college aged son! Debra later joined the staff as a teacher, and finally as director in January 2009. Debra earned a BA in Theology from Texas Lutheran University and began master’s level coursework in Counseling and Guidance at Texas State University. Prior to working at St. Mark CDO, Debra was the Director of Youth Ministry at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church and then a full-time mom! Debra enjoys serving in ministry to the children and families of the preschool. Her greatest joy is serving the CDO in this capacity and looking forward to coming to “work” each day! Debra is married to Marc, and they have three sons aged 16, 18, and 20, and two dogs, Rocky and Willamena, aka Pebbles.
St. Mark Children’s Day Out has been a licensed childcare since 1993 and before that, it was a 1/2 day preschool open only 2 days a week. It is now open Monday-Thursday from 9 am to 1:30 pm September through May and then Tuesday and Thursday in June and July. It is closed in August.
Debra shares her experience as a client at EGBI.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I toured St. Mark CDO with my son 19 years ago and I haven’t left! He will graduate from college in May 2024.
“We were assigned a business coach who helped us with everything from marketing to spreadsheets and was super supportive during the rebuilding after COVID.” Debra Wissman
How did you first find out about EGBI?
I was introduced to EGBI post COVID through Texas Workforce as we tried to re-build the school following COVID.
How did EGBI help your business? What service did you benefit from?
We were assigned a business coach who helped us with everything from marketing to spreadsheets and was super supportive during the rebuilding after COVID.
Why should people consider supporting an organization like EGBI?
It’s a new age of running a business post COVID and getting help in all areas of running a business is crucial! Support EGBI so that they can support businesses!
EGBI provides training, coaching, and support to aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business. If you would like to support our efforts, please visit our website https://egbi.org/donate/.
A native of Pittsburgh, graphic designer expert Ken Falk has over 50 years of experience working with unique clients from all different realms. Through creating thousands of logos, brochures, campaigns, and more, Ken’s unique perspective on graphic design is valued by many. Starting off as an Art Publisher for Penton Publishing, Ken has grown his professional career all the way to building his own Marketing and Communications company out of Potomac, Maryland. Currently residing in Rockville, Maryland, Ken is still passionate about the importance of good design in our everyday lives.
Ken Falk shares his experience as an EGBI volunteer.
To get started, do you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself? In my free time, I enjoy doing calligraphy.
How did you first get involved with EGBI? So, I recently retired. A former client of mine mentioned that they use Catchafire, a skills-based volunteer match program, to get volunteer design work. I thought this would be perfect as I was looking for short duration volunteer work where my skills could be used. This is actually my first job with Catchafire, so it is an initial experience. It’s nice because I am planning to travel more now that the pandemic is controllable, and I don’t want to take on large long-term commitments, so short-term ones work pretty well.
Why do you volunteer for EGBI? What intrigues me about EGBI is that it helps people learn to help themselves in a sense. People that have skills in one area, like carpentry, need help in learning how to start a business and all those things, which can be somewhat daunting. I like the idea of being able to help people become more self-sufficient and successful.
How has your involvement with EGBI helped you grow professionally and personally? One reason why I chose this project with EGBI is because I like working on annual reports as a graphic designer. I think annual reports are interesting because they encapsulate telling a story about an organization, through highlighting accomplishments at a certain period of time. Annual reports can show transition and transformation of organizations. Additionally, Monica is really easy to work with, and I was able to make suggestions on the project which created a collaborative workspace. I really value working on projects where my input is heard and taken into consideration.
In 2021, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Ken make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.
Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can volunteer or donate.
Meet Leslie Montoya. She was born and raised in Reynosa Tamaulipas, México, where at the age of 15, she began her career in the communications field as a Radio Disc Jockey, and soon became a producer at ExaFM- one of the best Mexican Radio Stations. Leslie got her bachelor’s degree with Honors in marketing at Eastern Michigan University. She worked at Univision for 14 years as TV and radio personality and producer. Leslie was nominated several times as the best Austin TV personality by the Austin Women in Media, AWM. In 2013, Leslie was nominated and the recipient of an Emmy from the National Academy of Television & Sciences Lone Star Emmy Awards. Leslie is also a certified life coach from the Robbins Madanes Institute, founded by the great motivational speaker Anthony Robbins. She is also a NLP practitioner certified by NLP Seminars Group International, founded by Dr. Richard Bandler. Her purpose is to continue self- improvement and to better help her community. This allows her to positively motivate and inform the Hispanic community with the use of communication platforms. For five consecutive years, Leslie contributed as an editor/life coach with monthly positive bilingual capsules to the local magazine Austin Family Magazine. In her podcast, Leslie Contigo, Leslie talks about emotional intelligence and topics related to personal growth such as anxiety, how to handle stress, relationships among other topics. The purpose of the show is to share emotional health concepts and practical emotional skills that the person can easily understand and use in his life. She is a well representative personality in our Hispanic community in Austin.
Leslie shares her experience as a volunteer of EGBI and how you can get involved too.
Hi Leslie! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
My weakness is craving Tamarindo: A Mexican candy. I can’t say no to any offers.
How have you volunteered for EGBI?
I have had the opportunity and pleasure to collaborate with EGBI as a master of ceremonies for different events and workshops.
Why do you think it is important to volunteer?
There are many professional and physical health benefits when a person decides to volunteer. Research shows that people who volunteer feel happier and improve their mental health, which helps ensure you don’t get burned out in your “real” job. Professionally, it helps you meet new people, learn new skills, and more. It is a wonderful way to contribute to your community and support organizations such as EGBI.
“Consider volunteering at EGBI. It will be a win-win experience.”– Leslie Montoya
Why is it important to volunteer at EGBI?
EGBI is a great and solid organization that supports established entrepreneurs grow their business, or starters who are thinking about launching a business but don’t have a clue where to start. EGBI has a great, knowledgeable, and heartfelt team whose mission is to always provide valuable information to local small business owners and entrepreneurs.
What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering with EGBI?
I would say that they would have a win-win experience. They will be supporting a great organization while also gaining a great experience and meeting wonderful people, who will help enrich their professional life.
In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Leslie make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.
Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can volunteer or donate.
Meet Rebecca, an Austin native and founder of Earth + Hand, a health and wellness company offering locally produced soaps made from all natural ingredients. She started making soaps for her family and friends in 2011 with the goal of eliminating chemicals and toxins from her everyday routine. Having a child on the spectrum, she was especially focused on creating products with aroma and texture sensitivity in mind. Although she was hesitant at first, her friends loved her products and encouraged her to start a business. Today Earth + Hand products can be found online and at local markets around Austin.
Rebecca shares her experience as a business owner and how EGBI can help you grow your business too.
Hi Rebecca! To get started, would you mind telling us what inspired you to start your business?
I experienced sensitivity to a lot of skincare products and was worried about my son who’s sensitive to certain fragrances and dyes. I wanted to create a product that minimizes toxins while using sustainable and renewable ingredients.
What makes your business unique?
We take a general wellness approach by combining wellness with everyday life. Our soaps are thoughtfully made and produced by hand in small batches. We’ve also started selling sage and crystals to encourage self-care for both the body and home.
What are some obstacles you feel like you have encountered in starting or growing your business? How did you overcome this?
Our biggest obstacle was the shift with the pandemic and no longer being able to sell our products in person. Our soaps are very aroma centered, with a focus on aromatherapy, so it’s been difficult not having an in person experience. Moving online was especially difficult because I’m not the most tech savvy person and had to learn everything from scratch. I’ve overcome this by being persistent and intentional. The most important thing is to keep trying.
What workshops/business coaching have you done through EGBI?
I was so excited when I found EGBI! I started doing business coaching with Barbara and Joni, where we focused on formulating my business and kicking it into high gear.
How has EGBI helped you?
EGBI helped me turn my passion into a sustainable business. My mom was an entrepreneur and having a personal background in real estate I knew a little about selling services; But to sell products I needed a completely different approach. It’s amazing how after one coaching session I knew exactly what steps I needed to take in order to get my business off the ground.
Want to work with EGBI? Contact us to find out how you can get started.
Royal Arms Cleaning services specializes in cleaning commercial spaces for various industries, including, but not limited to offices, schools, retail, medical, industrial/manufacturing, restaurants, dealerships, religious facilities, event venues, etc. The company offers full cleaning services in the general night clean: vacuum, sweep and mop, garbage/recycling removal, kitchen/breakroom, restroom, etc. Additional services provided: day porter, deep clean; make-ready (move in/move out) service, post-construction clean up, window cleaning, carpet cleaning, water extraction, floor maintenance (strip and wax, machine scrub and recoat, and spray buff), power washing, and disinfecting (fogger). They use hospital grade disinfectant products that help to eliminate viruses, germs, and more.
We were proud to have a conversation with Anne Hardin, coowner of Royal Arms Cleaning, LLC about their entrepreneur journey, challenges during COVID-19, how EGBI has assisted them through coaching, and much more. We were also joined with our supporter Cristina Valdés, local realtor with Realty Austin.
Lucero was born and raise in North Mexico and now happily living and raising my little family in Austin, Texas. She created Lucero Photography due to her passion of digital photography. She does professional headshots, family photos, and product photography.
We were proud to have a conversation with Lucero Valle-Archuleta about her entrepreneur journey, challenges during COVID-19, how she has pivoted her business, how EGBI has assisted her through coaching, and more. We were joined by Allison Lujan with Moody Bank as moderator. Thank you ladies for the great conversation.
Interview with Lucero Valle-Archuleta of Lucero Photography below.