Creating Community Resources
By Lorna Oppedisano | Photography by Alice G. Patterson
“I need a change,” Nancy Aureli thought, as she sat at a training by FranklinCovey, the company behind The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Earlier in the day, Nancy — a geologist who worked 50- to 60-hour weeks in a male-dominated industry — had a blast introducing herself as Nancy-of-10-yearspast. A decade ago, she’d been finishing college at the State University of New York at Fredonia, ready to take on and change the world.
After the break, she was asked to introduce herself again. But this time, it was 10 years in the future. Maybe she’d be married and have children, she said hesitantly.
“I don’t think I work where I work now,” Nancy predicted.
A naturally caring and empathetic person, Nancy opted for nursing, a career that’s led to entrepreneurship. Recently, she started her own business, Advance Care Planning of New York, as well as Community Living Advocates, a website designed to be a resource guide for seniors, caregivers and those with disabilities.
Nancy earned an associate’s degree in nursing — the most difficult task she’s accomplished, she said. She spent about five years working in oncology, before switching to telehealth.
After that, she looked for an opportunity to work with seniors, a passion of hers. She found that a new facility devoted to transitional care — helping patients 65 and older rebuild their strength before returning home — was being built. It was a perfect fit.
During this time, Nancy had an idea: what if she could design a tablet specifically for seniors, to help them stay in touch with their families, stay aware of the news and find seniors discounts and events?
She began to sketch out her idea, and showed the designs to her former geology partner. He told her she had something, and encouraged Nancy to connect with people in the area who could help her get the idea off the ground.
At around the same time, she started Advance Care Planning of New York, a business devoted to helping people sort through advance care planning. It’s a topic people don’t always want to talk about.
“When you need it, you need it,” Nancy said, “and you need somebody who can help you.”
Then, about four years ago, Nancy spent months trying to find services for her grandmother who had suffered a stroke. Being a nurse, she assumed it would be easy. It wasn’t. The family had a negative experience with a nursing home, and Nancy’s grandmother didn’t qualify for hospice.
“That was exceedingly difficult,” Nancy said. “I said to myself, ‘When this is over, I’m going to make a resource for people, so that if they ever get in this situation — and most people unfortunately do — they will be able to figure out what to do.’”
Nancy transformed her original tablet idea into a pared down version — a website, Community Health Advocates. It’s a one-stop shop for caregivers, seniors and people with disabilities to find services, resources, classes, events, volunteers opportunities, job opportunities and more, she explained. The site also links to Advance Care Planning of New York.
Nancy credits the WISE Women’s Business Center with helping her realize that the simple website format might be the best way to pursue her dreams. She also joined Women Business Opportunities Connection, which she’s found to be a solid support system.
“It’s been really good just to be around other businesswomen,” she said. “And it’s really great to have that outlet of just being in a room with a whole bunch of other people who are like you.” SWM
Women Business Opportunities Connection (WBOC) is a non-profit organization that has been supporting the Syracuse and CNY area for more than 20 years. To become a member, visit wboconnection.org or follow the organization on Twitter at @WBOConnection. Syracuse Woman Magazine is a signature sponsor of the WBOC.