Theresa Mitchell is our 2020 AusMumpreneur NSW-ACT People’s Choice Making a Difference (Local Community) Silver Award winner.
Theresa Mitchell is the directing founder of Charity; Agape Outreach Inc. serving the homeless & needy and the Author of “Stories from the Streets”. Agape operates between Byron Bay NSW & Runaway Bay QLD providing meals on the streets, food hampers to families in need, case management for housing support, shower, and laundry access. Agape runs basic life skills training classes including cooking and budgeting, has a psychology department, and also runs drug & alcohol support groups. Agape’s 160 volunteers also collect rescued food saving around 2 tonnes of edible food from landfill weekly-protecting the environment, the food is repurposed into meals and distributed to people in poverty.
When did you start your business?
January 26th, 2009.
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
I could no longer continue to walk past homeless people on the streets and do nothing. As a stay-at-home single mother at the time, I had nothing to offer but started with a meal. Over the years of supporting people with food the pain in their eyes has prompted me to open new areas for support like casement for housing applications, community cares for hospital visits, and psychologists to help with emotional support. Agape has since grown to 160 volunteers and is now moving from employing 2 people into the tens.
What are you most excited about in your business?
Helping more people.
Every day Agape has people walk in the door with a story that breaks your heart. There is nothing worse than having to send a single mum with kids away without food because you have nothing to offer or not having the manpower to support someone emotionally when they have just be beaten black and blue by their partner. Agape is at a size now where we can access some type of support for people and this is exciting to grow and be resourceful enough to continue to offer everything we do free to clients.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
Lack of funding. The government doesn’t recognise what Agape does as a necessity, so there is no funding. Everything we do at Agape has to be fundraised for, taking time from one-to-one support.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
If it stirs in the pit of your stomach and continues to burn then act on it. Don’t be scared if how to monetize it isn’t visible to start off with, just run with it anyway because it is a part of your life purpose.
Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?
I entered 5 years ago for the visibility of the awards and didn’t come anywhere, the feedback that we received from the judges was that we weren’t big enough. So after 5 years of hard work and growing our charity to 1.5 million in assets, I came back to see if we could now hold our own, and we came second.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
What surprised you most about the awards?
How many categories it has grown into.
How did the awards help you in your business?
Agape was able to secure media coverage in the local paper for winning the award.
What advice would you give to others mums thinking about entering the awards?
Don’t go into it just to win, find other reasons like gaining media attention locally, making beneficial connections, etc.
It is too much pressure to place on yourself to expect to win but a lovely bonus when it happens.
What’s happening next in your business? Any big plans for the future?
As well as growing our psychology department (which offers no out-of-pocket services to the needy) and Agapes drug and alcohol support program, Agape is looking to develop tiny housing living estates for supported housing for the chronic homeless. Then multiplying our model consisting of holistic support around Australia in an endeavor to end homelessness.
All images featured here are from Theresa Mitchell.
SAVE THE DATE – 2021 AUSMUMPRENEUR AWARDS!
Nominations open Monday 3 May 2021.
AusMumpreneur Awards Nights 8-10 September 2021
Conference and Awards Presentation 14-16 September 2021.