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Felica White: LAUNCH Grad & Owner of Helping Hands


Felicia White, owner of Helping Hands home health care providers.

Some of the most difficult decisions in life involve the process of choosing how to care for loved ones who, because of age or health issues, struggle to maintain their independence. That’s why Felicia White started Helping Hands, a new home health-care business whose mission is to help the elderly and individuals with disabilities stay happy, healthy, and independent in their own homes.

Felicia, a recent LAUNCH grad, a life-long Memphian, and a mother of three, has spent much of her life helping others. Through working in the medical field for about 9 years in various capacities as a Certified Medical Assistant, Felicia discovered her passion for helping others through caretaking. Recently she decided to pursue a dream that she has always had: starting her own home healthcare business that can truly empower people. Helping Hands is the result.

Many of us at Advance have been challenged by the principle of empowerment celebrated in Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett’s book, When Helping Hurts. Felicia founded Helping Hands with empowerment in mind. She isn’t just interested in providing assistance to her clients; she sees her mission as offering an empowering “helping hand” that allows her clients to continue to thrive in their own homes.

After years of observing and working in the healthcare industry, Felicia realized that there is a consistent issue with many existing in-home healthcare options. Some emphasize professional service, but often caregivers lack a commitment to a personal relationship with their clients. Others may be friendly and caring, but lack professionalism in the way they relate to clients and their families. Helping Hands is committed to providing professional care to those who need assistance at home, while also building personal relationships with every client. Felicia does not believe that these two elements of her business are mutually exclusive; rather, she firmly believes that this is what can set Helping Hands apart from other home healthcare providers. She is committed to remaining trustworthy, exhibiting excellence, and efficiently running her versatile business, while still maintaining a high value on personal relationships with those being cared for and their loved ones.

Consider hiring Helping Hands to help care for your loved ones, and participate along with Felicia in seeking to do kingdom work. She is flexible and able to care for people in a variety of situations and in different ways depending on your needs. Helping Hands is a registered provider with the Department of Health and Human Services. Home healthcare is Felicia’s passion, and she would love to participate in encouraging and empowering your loved ones. If you are interested, call 901-314-4866.


Valerie Riley: LAUNCH Grad & Owner of Clean Heart Cleaning Service


Twenty-two years ago, Valerie Riley was living in Chicago and she noticed a problem. Valerie was concerned that elderly people in her community did not have access to the home-care and housekeeping services that they need in order to maintain a reasonable quality of life. In response to this, Valerie decided to become a Home Caretaker for elderly residents of her neighborhood who struggled with mental or physical disabilities. She continued doing this for fourteen years before she relocated to Memphis in 2007.

One thing Valerie realized after her move to Memphis was that her neighbors here have similar struggles to those in Chicago; namely, that many people do not have access to good housekeeping services. Valerie also began to hone her skillset, and she realized that her real passion is to provide those specific housekeeping services to those who need them at an affordable rate. Valerie began doing this at no charge for an elderly woman in her community on a consistent basis, and both her skill in cleaning and her love for her work grew during this time.

Fast-forward six years; Valerie has graduated from both the Jobs for Life and Launch entrepreneurship programs at Advance Memphis, and her own housekeeping business is growing. With commercial and residential clients already being served, Clean Heart Cleaning Service is growing, and is looking forward. Valerie’s vision is that her company could provide much-needed access to cleaning services at an affordable rate to people all across the mid-South area of Memphis and beyond.

We asked Valerie what sets her apart from other cleaning services, and she began by giving some of the core principles of her company: honesty and dependability. Clean Heart is committed to providing affordable and excellent cleaning in a reliable way in order to best serve their customers. In addition to this, Clean Heart only uses bio-friendly cleaning products. This means no harmful chemicals!! In all, Clean Heart seeks to go above and beyond by staying committed to affordability, being continually honest and dependable in their work, and using products that are safe for customers and the environment.



LAUNCH: Invitation for Special Application

Marilyn, a LAUNCH grad, has developed her existing cleaning business. Other grads have launched t-shirt printing and DJ services, as well as a business selling hand made children's tutus.

Marilyn, a LAUNCH grad, used the class to develop and strengthen her existing cleaning business. Other grads have launched t-shirt printing and DJ services, as well as a business selling handmade children’s tutus.

This Fall, Advance Memphis will offer a 10 week entrepreneurship course called LAUNCH, based on LAUNCH Chattanooga (http://www.launchchattanooga.org/). Based on the highly successful Co.Starters course (http://costarters.co/), this program helps potential entrepreneurs or existing small-business owners think through their business idea, garner customer input and feedback, and get ready to launch. In addition to aspiring entrepreneurs, the class will include a number of mentors with relevant experience and a commitment to help the participants move from the course into the start-up phase.

The vast majority of spots in the class will be filled by residents of the 38126 zip code, but a few spots are being offered to Memphians outside the neighborhood who believe that their business idea would contribute to economic development in South Memphis by either providing a needed service/product, creating jobs for residents, or both.

Graduates of this class will potentially receive ongoing support from Advance in raising capital, connecting with mentors, finding employees from the community (if relevant) and marketing through the ministry’s connections. Applications for these spots will be judged based on:

  • the potential impact on the community (South Memphis),
  • the potential to succeed,
  • the experience/skills of the potential entrepreneur.
  • Business models which include cooperative ownership and/or profit-sharing will receive additional kudos.

To apply, please complete the application that you’ll find here. Contact Michael Rhodes with questions, after carefully reviewing the above description of the criteria for acceptance.



LAUNCH: Training Entrepreneurs


Latisha with one of her tutus that were for sale at the Advance Memphis 5k.

For the past 15 years, Advance Memphis has worked to empower adults from the 38126 community to move up the economic ladder. We’ve helped folks find jobs, save money, add marketable skills. But for 15 years we’ve heard our neighbors ask us to help them start their own businesses. This year, Advance is finally taking our neighbors up on the offer.

Last year, while exploring ways to create new jobs, Advance sent a group of residents (grads from our program) and summer interns to Chattanooga for a conference on job creation. One of the conference sponsors was an organization called LAUNCH Chattanooga, which has helped individuals start over 50 businesses in the last four years by offering classes and other services in traditionally under-served areas. When our neighbors met the staff and some of the entrepreneurs of LAUNCH, they knew that they’d found a program they’d like to see come back to Memphis. And so with the help of LAUNCH Chattanooga, this spring Advance Memphis offered our first ever LAUNCH class for entrepreneurs.

Fourteen individuals signed up for the 10-week class that met every Monday for three hours. The main requirement was that each participant came with a business idea. Some came with existing businesses, others with ideas that they’d dreamed of but never acted on. In addition to two staff, the class also included six LAUNCH mentors and a half dozen guest speakers. This support team brought real world entrepreneurship experience into the class each week, as participants actively strategized about their businesses’ primary products, customer problems, value proposition, “pitch,” and financial projections. Each session, participants tested their ideas in class by talking to potential customers.

By the end of the class, eight folks graduated, representing the following businesses:

  • Jenkins’ Lawn Service and Tree Removal, specializing in consistent, quality lawn service and tree service. Owned by Donald Jenkins (djenkinslawncare@gmail.com; 901-502-9736)
  • 5th Element Entertainment, DJ specializing in music customized to your event, with genres covering everything from country, to blues, to hip hop, and rock and roll. Owned by Tee Brice (5thelementdjentertainment@gmail.com; 901-896-7428)
  • Pamper Me Pretty, specializing in custom-made tutus and bows for sale, and hosting birthday parties and other events for girls which include tutus, face painting, and manicures/pedicures. Owned by Latisha Steele (pampermeprettymemphis@gmail.com; 901-230-2051)
  • 3rd Wall Entertainment, specializing in custom t-shirt design, and booking performers for parties, including flippers. Owned by Telly Albright (telly.albright@gmail.com; 901-292-8922)
  • Marilyn’s Magic Cleaning, specializing in residential and commercial cleaning services. Owned by Marilyn Lyles (901-601-8483)
  • Terrance’s Trustworthy Roadside Assistance, owned by Terrance Williams (901-336-4053)
  • Entrepreneur Paul Outlaw is in the process of designing a business that will specialize in on-line sales and logistics support. For more info, contact Paul at pauloutlaw1@gmail.com or 901-596-5099
  • Kristy’s Kustoms, specializing in t-shirt and screen printing, (901-292-8922)

Telly with his business license for 3rd Wall Entertainment.

Telly with his business license for 3rd Wall Entertainment.

Just a few weeks after class, we’ve seen folks make, produce, and sell their first tutu or cut down their first large tree; register and license new businesses; book DJ gigs and purchase new sound equipment; talk to up to 42 different potential customers over the course of the class; show up at night in the rain to get a staff person’s keys out of their locked car; and register Facebook pages and emails. But most importantly, we’ve seen people light up with the excitement at seeing their dream, based on their gifts, abilities, and hard work, begin to become a reality.

Walking with our neighbors in entrepreneurship makes all sorts of sense for Advance. Not only economically, where small businesses can provide jobs for the owners and others (LAUNCH Chattanooga’s 52 entrepreneurs have hired an additional 32 people, for instance), as well as helping under-employed or under-paid employees bridge the gap between what they currently earn and what their family needs. LAUNCH makes sense because Advance has always sought to help the poor primarily by empowering low-income individuals to recognize and build off their own assets and abilities, to see themselves as image-bearers with unique gifts and talents. So often in our city and world the poor are treated as deficits and problems to be solved; what better than entrepreneurship to remind our neighbors, and us, that our neighbors can use their assets and gifts to reach their goals and give back to their communities? Furthermore, the Bible presents us with a rich history of God’s people seeking to ensure that everyone in the community has access to work and even ownership of assets to provide basic security, relative equity, and full-participation in the life of the community. Think of the Jubilee laws and the seven year cycle of debt forgiveness, or the prophetic vision that in the last days everyone would sit under their own vine and fig tree, with no one to make them afraid. There is no perfect silver bullet for the problems facing our community, but given our philosophical commitment to asset-based community development and our theological commitment to seeing God’s people use their God-given gifts to add value in the community, LAUNCH is an effort that’s here to stay in 38126.

Will you join us? Will you help us figure out how to support our first eight entrepreneurs and the next 800 after them? Will you consider empowering a neighbor to provide for themselves by buying from these businesses? Would you consider mentoring an entrepreneur, helping some of our entrepreneurs market their services in your network, or just pray for them as they move forward, gain confidence, make mistakes, overcome them, and move towards God’s dream for themselves and their city? Together we can work towards a community where everybody who wants to  work can provide for themselves, their family, and give back to their community. Walking with our neighbors in entrepreneurship is one step in that journey. Let’s take it.