It's time for another issue of The Stardust Startup Factory's monthly newsletter, The Constellation!
In this newsletter, we highlight a microgrant
recipient and a Stardust Board/Advisory Board member who offers keen insight into one of Stardust's focus areas of health, learning, and sustainability.
The focus area for this month is - you guessed it - learning! Within this email are two stories of strong, independent women who not only have fostered growth and learning in their communities, but also have learned a lot themselves through their extensive professional experience.
Keep reading to hear the inspiring story of microgrant recipient Tami Thomas, and how her project The MirIAM is working to teach
troubled women life-long healthy habits.
And finally, you'll learn about Stardust's newest Board member, Fran Pigott-Harding whose communications experience and lessons learned make for a great read!
From Narcotics Officer to Teacher
As a former narcotics
officer in the Drug Diversions unit, Tami described being utterly shocked at the prevalence of drug abuse in her hometown. Tami recalled that not only did she primarily deal with female offenders, but that they were “the same girls [she had] been arresting for years."
This inspired Tami to open the MirIAM, a financially self-sustaining women's detox and
rehabilitation center in Carteret County, North Carolina. The MirIAM offers a small, home-like environment that fosters learning in innovative ways. Support for residents includes: group and individual substance and alcohol abuse therapy, life skills, creative arts, family programs, and recreational programs.
The four revenue-generating businesses at the MirIAM consist of soft-shell crab processing, a vegetable farm, a tilapia farm, and chicken/egg production. The revenue from selling these resources along with the proceeds from the MirIAM's Treasures Thrift
Store in Morehead City and the financial support of many individuals all help make the MirIAM Detox and Rehabilitation Center a reality.
In the coming years, Tami is also looking to greatly expand The MirIAM to include afarm, a thrift store, and a green house, all in an effort to achieve self-sustainability and to offer more opportunities for the residents. Remarkably, another Stardust Startup Factory supported
project, called Potter Farm, is connecting with The MirIAM to aid in Tami’s efforts to establish and maintain a farm.
Now, Potter Farm and The MirIAM can work toward a common goal of sustainability, as well as ecological health and learning.
All-in-all, The MirIAM is an exemplar of every focus area of The Stardust Startup Factory. This courageous ex-narcotics officer saw a need in her community and acted. She is now helping dozens of women get back
on their feet by teaching them important life skills and habits, while also offering faith-based counseling and guidance. For all these reasons, consider donating to either The Stardust Startup Factory so that projects like this can be successful in the future, or donate directly to Tami by visiting www.themiriam.org.
Meet Fran Pigott-Harding: Stardust's Newest Board Member
communications executive with 30 plus years’ management experience in the insurance/financial services, retail, professional services, non profit, education and entertainment fields. She is a versatile marketer, event manager and creative technician. Her experience includes strategic communicating consulting and planning, developing and implementing new product/services campaigns, managing branding strategy,
and developing and managing media and social media relations. Her expertise also includes planning, organizing and promoting special events."
Few, what a bio! It's no surprise that Fran is an accomplished business women, and her extensive professional experience has also greatly benefited herself and those around her.
After speaking with Fran this past month, I learned several things; 1) she does a lot for her community 2) she's not sure of her role in The Stardust Startup Factory just yet and 3) whatever Stardust
needs her to do, she's confident she'll be able to deliver.
In addition to serving on The Stardust Board, Fran serves as Ambassador for the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce and is an Advisor for the Carteret County Food Network. Fran is involved in other philanthropic work as a member of The Rotary Club and the Beaufort
Woman’s Club, which truly shows the level of engagement Fran strives to maintain within her community.
Fran also expressed to me her unique ability to anticipate and adapt to change. She told me about her unique experience with a company that assured its marketing team that there would be no outsourcing; weeks later, they outsourced every employee bar one. Luckily, Fran's intuition payed off, and she had already arranged a position with a different
With that said, Fran's ability to anticipate and
adapt, her extensive marketing and business experience, as well as her clear passion for helping and volunteering in her community makes her - in my humble opinion - an excellent new addition to the team!