WBOC’S LEADING WOMAN: Not Just About Work and Networking

By on January 1, 2013
Jan WBOC Leading Women

BY ALYSSA LAFARO | PHOTO BY CINDY BELL

“When I hit 40, I decided I wanted to do something better with my life,” confessed Sheila Ohstrom. “I really had to do some soul searching to determine what it is I have a passion for.”

After having worked for Agway, Lord & Taylor, MCI, a pharmaceuticals company, and BOCES as a part-time culinary instructor, she knew none of those were the profession she wanted to be in for the rest of her life. She spent time reflecting on the past, thinking about her time in college — less on her business management degree, and more on what was happening in her personal life at the time. “My mom was terminally ill when I was finishing up classes,” she admitted. “That time is what impacted me in the present.”

Today, Sheila owns and operates Senior Home Care Solutions, which provides non-medical care to seniors in and around the greater Syracuse areas. “We do everything we can to keep someone in their own home,” she explained. “We cook, clean, fold laundry, run errands, drive, and scrape gutters — you name it, we do it.” And sometimes, Sheila and her employees simply go to client’s homes for company. “Companion care is something we specialize in. For a lot of these people it’s about social interaction, so we make sure they have someone to talk to as well.”

Sheila first dipped her hand into the world of entrepreneurship in 2009, one of Women Business Opportunities Connections’ past presidents, Nicole Samolis, told her she should check out a meeting. “And I’ve been a member ever since,” admitted Sheila.

For many, WBOC meetings are about gaining insight into both the working and personal lives of other female entrepreneurs. How do I start my own business and continue to raise my family? Where can I find an accountant? How do I survive my first year? Sheila got the answers to all of these questions here, but also something else — a base for her business.

“WBOC helped me find my team,” she explained. “I found everyone from my lawyer to my accountant to my payroll company through attending WBOC meetings. I actually met some employees I ended up hiring through them, and even clients — people’s mothers, fathers, grandmothers. WBOC has been great for me on many different levels.”

On top of all the wonderful ways WBOC has helped her, Sheila can’t get over the fact that attending meetings is not just about work and networking — it’s fun. “I think that’s why so many women do so much for it. It’s a place to obtain information, and gain friends.”

Because of the impact WBOC has had on Sheila’s business and life, she wants to see it continue to grow and continue to offer great programming that female entrepreneurs really need. Eventually, she hopes she can do much more for the organization. Currently, however, she’s involved with an overload of organizations — the Fayetteville Senior Center, the Manlius Senior Center, the Fayetteville-Manlius Chamber of Commerce, and her church. She added: “I also go out and speak to different senior groups in assisted living facilities on different topics — safety in the home, 100 ways to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, and more.

“After looking at all that I do and all the jobs I’ve had, it’s clear I’m a good multi-tasker,” she laughed, “so I know I’ll always find a way to fit in WBOC.”

The WBOC is a local non-profit organization that has been providing support to women and access to innovative events and workshops for 20 years. Whether running our own business, working for an employer or launching a new endeavor, women are connected through their entrepreneurial mindset. Syracuse Woman Magazine is a WBOC signature sponsor that aims to promote a common mission. For information on how to become a member, visit www.wboconnection.org.

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