A loan helped to purchase office equipment and supplies, furniture and signage for new clinical social work practice.

Donnyette's story

Growing up, Donnyette was always the one her friends went to for advice.

“I’ve always been that person who thought I knew everything,” Donnyette says with a smile. “People would come to me, lean on me for advice and I’d tell them what I thought. I always thought I’d be the next Dear Abby or Ann Landers, actually!”

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in her hometown of New Orleans for 18 years, Donnyette has certainly helped many people, particularly children, through her work, even if she hasn’t landed a syndicated newspaper column just yet.

Donnyette’s next challenge is taking her work to the next level by starting a behavioral health agency, strategically named Positive Direction Support Services, LLC.

Throughout her career, Donnyette has worked with people of all ages, but her passion is working with children. Most recently, she has served as a school social worker in the Orleans Parish School District.

Before Hurricane Katrina, she launched a program at her church called Sister to Sister Devotion, which aimed to build self-esteem and peer support among teenage girls. This was Donnyette’s passion for eight years until Hurricane Katrina displaced the group’s membership. The now adult members of the group are still in touch with Donnyette and want to organize a reunion, to re-connect with what they call their “foundation.”

It was the experience from that first entrepreneurial – albeit volunteer – venture that inspired Donnyette to launch her own practice. Positive Direction is engaged in a partnership with the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health to provide counseling and teaching services, clinical assessments and psychiatric evaluations for children in the New Orleans metropolitan area. “I’m responding to a significant need in New Orleans for quality social work services that are offered directly in the community" (in clients’ homes, in schools and other settings such as churches), she says.

While Donnyette’s experience speaks for itself, finding funding for the relatively small amount needed to open her practice was a challenge and she is grateful for the opportunity to receive a loan.

Donnyette plans to hire more social workers as she grows her practice and aims to build the kind of team spirit and commitment that she experienced at some of her past workplaces.

“The kids deserve it; they didn’t ask to have the issues that they have,” she says. “We want to promote hope, healing and wholeness to all the children and their families in [the hope] that it will become infectious throughout our ailing community.”

So while Donnyette is taking on a new business venture and now must focus on the details of the business side as much as directly counseling clients, she maintains the same dedication to helping people that she had as a child.

“I still have that save the world mentality,” she says. “It’s just a little different now.”

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