HEIDI CHASE > 54 > FOUNDER > NEW HAMPSHIRE
How to make friends and influence people
(and make a living).
Heidi Chase is an extrovert. A hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, party girl, who couldn't imagine a world without friends.
She also lives a life she would never have imagined for herself.
Heidi was on track to be a super-career mum. She embarked on her Masters in Family Therapy while pregnant with her first son and completed it when her second son was just a few months old.
But he had health issues as a baby. She couldn't work the hours required to get the final certification to practice. So she took a part-time job working at a local school.
One evening she visited a parents group and it broke her heart to discover that teenagers with developmental disabilities struggle to make friendships.
"I walked into my boss's office the next day and said,
"We have to do something about this".
Friends in Action was born.
It started as afternoon clubs. Then, as the kids grew out of the school system, the programme grew too. Heidi quickly discovered the social isolation and loneliness for people with developmental disabilities got ten times worse after graduation. So Friends in Action started their Friday Night Social and the project snowballed.
Now it's a registered charity with a full calendar of events treasured by hundreds of people with developmental disabilities of all ages and their families.
Heidi believes a programme like hers is a perfect opportunity for women to create real meaning in their lives by offering a much-needed service to her local community. She's even planning to write a book showing exactly how it's done.
"If you've raised a family or been on the PTA you can run a social enterprise with your eyes closed."
Heidi believes it is essential that you draw a salary so you can dedicate all your energy to build a strong community and of course, the most difficult part is getting funding.
But the benefits far outweigh any of the struggles.
Watching school-yard friends become life-long friends is the best reward.
"And you get to party!"
Says Heidi with a grin.