Focus on Female Entrepreneurs - Shalakee Edwards, Founder of A Heart 2 Care Home

I have known Shalakee Edwards since the 9th grade. From the first time that we met it was clear that this lady stood out from the crowd. She was beautiful, poised, well put together, well spoken, and an excellent student. She had a spark that was undeniable and nothing could dim it.

Over the years, Shalakee has grown into one impressive lady and it’s been an honor to work with her and to call her friend. She works at an insane pace, driven by her faith and a deep passion for helping those who have no one else.

I’ve seen her push through physical and mental fatigue, build her business with little support, and without financial security. She has gone out on a limb to fulfill her vision at times when most would have given up. Her story is one of perseverance, of overcoming no matter what obstacles are placed in front of you. I’m so very happy to celebrate her and share her story with you now.

How did the idea for your business come about?

I have been working in healthcare for about 27 years in a variety of healthcare settings: hospital, long term care facilities, home health and community health center. I was a CNA for 13 years and currently LPN for 14 years. My idea for the business came about from my combined experience in Home Health and long term care or what others may refer to as nursing homes.

The turnover rate is high for nurses and CNA’s because of the patient load and staffing shortage as a result many of the needs of the consumers (residents) go unmet. Many times in nursing homes CNAs may have 15 plus residents to care for and over half are totally dependent upon staff for the assistance of Activities of Daily living. These activities include: dressing, bathing, eating, toileting, ect….

Nurses on the other hand may have 20 plus residents that they are responsible for and supervise CNAs simultaneously. I love what I do and I wanted to provide care in a safe, clean, peaceful and home-like environment. In this setting the resident is able to get more personalized care because of the small home-like setting and a 1:5 staff to resident ratio. Thus, A Heart 2 Care Home, LLC was established August 2018.

How did you come up with the name for the company?

I changed the name several times. Finally, I decided on A Heart 2 Care Home, LLC because I have a sincere and genuine desire to take care of others with Love, Respect, Compassion and Dignity. My heart for others transcends my own comprehension and sometimes can be to a default as I have been told many times.

How did you raise funds for your business?

Honestly, I didn’t raise any funds for my business. I jumped off the cliff with a mustard seed of faith and landed in Spring Hope, NC. One way I fund my business is that I still work a full-time job in order to pay for operational expenses and my personal expenses. It has been a very difficult task but I wouldn’t trade this journey. I have been working a full-time job, borrowing money from family and friends, and credit cards to fund the business until it is able to sustain itself.

I would say I didn’t plan well when it came to funding because I was set to charge one rate but there is a need for individuals that have low income. Therefore, I accepted taking in much less money than I had projected. I have accepted residents that make too much to qualify for Medicaid but don’t make enough to pay the average cost of quality assisted living services in NC.

How many hours a day do you work on average?

On an average day, I work 16 or more hours a day. Yes, sometimes I work about 12 hours at A Heart 2 Care Home and then I go and work my full time job which is generally a 12 hour shift. Many sleepless nights!

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

My resident told me this is the best home he’s been in and he has been in custody of the state since he was 16 and he is now 50. We strive to ensure that the feeling of being at home never leaves.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Doing what I love to do by creating a culture that provides top quality care to some and employment opportunities for others.

What is the part of your life experience would you alter if you had the chance?

I would alter the many deaths that have come and taken all the women that raised me and left me here alone. My Mother, Laverne Edwards, My Grandmothers, Dorothy Edwards and Essie Vincent, and Aunt Brenda K. I know if my mom was here she’ll be working with me.

Hear Shalakee’s talk on what entrepreneurship means to her.

If you were to write a book about yourself, how would you name it?

“Go Forth”