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The Change-Makers: stories that inspire

The heart of our mission is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our communities. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some incredible artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with the incredible group below. Check out our favorite stories from across the Voyage family.

Latisha Owens

In 2014, I founded Guiding Light Mentoring (GLM) as I felt a calling from God to provide youth with guidance, support, and encouragement in making positive decisions that would lead to a successful life. In my obedience to God, I started the business with just 5 mentors and 5 mentees and no budget using my own money to initially fund the organization. I have come to realize that relationships built through Guiding Light Mentoring have proven that mentoring is a key factor in the healthy development of youth. Read more>>

Deana Boyages

I was a customer at the gallery for many years, like many of the people that shop here. I loved the friendly atmosphere and the chance to buy handmade, one-of-a-kind gifts for family and friends, especially at the holidays. When the shop closed shortly after the original owner’s passing, I was not alone in my disappointment at losing a place that meant so much to our community and our customers. When I was approached by the family with the chance to purchase the business to keep the gallery open, it was not even a question about whether to go forward. Read more>>

Jade Lovelace

I began my journey in 2018 after giving birth and experiencing postpartum hair loss. I couldn’t find the proper needed products to help combate my hair loss, so I began researching herbs and ingredients that have been proven to aid in hair growth. At the time, my infant and oldest were trying to recover from hair loss, and so I began creating hair products geared towards people of all ages. Because I felt it wasn’t right to have a product and not fully be educated on hair, I began taking classes through world of trichology and, after 2 years, obtained my Trichology certification. Read more>>

Anna DeChellis

MetalBug Collective started in 2020. I had been working as a bartender and attending classes at Kent State University prior to the pandemic. My schedule had always been crazy hectic, and work/school was my entire life at that point in time. I was very uncertain of what I wanted to do as a career path and had changed my major four times- haha! (Starting with journalism, then nutrition, then communications, and then psychology… I couldn’t make up my mind!) When the pandemic started, I was out of a job, and classes were no longer in person. All the sudden I had a huge amount of free time. That was something I was never used to. This really allowed me to take a step back & collect myself. Read more>>

Samantha Camel

For starters, I’ve always enjoyed anything beauty and fitness related. At a young age, I was in beauty pageants and often would pick up my mom’s magazines and look through them admiring all the beautiful celebrities. I wanted to go to cosmetology school, but life, unfortunately, took me in another direction for a while. Once I decided to go to school, I originally went for group exercise instructor and worked in gyms and a tanning salon for a while. I love working out but quickly realized working in the gym atmosphere wasn’t for me. Read more>>

Erick Bellomy

I’m not sure where to start… I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and graduated from South High School in 2013. My mom was a single mother, and I was the only child until the age of 13. I didn’t have the best childhood and was often considered a trouble child who was involved in the court system until the age of 18. While in high school, I volunteered with the United Methodist Free Store in Columbus, and that’s where I got my first taste of volunteerism. After the election of Donald Trump, I felt like the rights of many folks in this country were at risk of being limited, especially those in the LGBTQI+ community so I sprang into action and brought folks together from many different walks of life and organized actions that called out his rhetoric. Read more>>

Joe Bishara

Joe’s love of storytelling started when he played George Washington in his Elementary School 5th Grade mini-musical. He received a scholarship to attend Ohio Wesleyan University and graduated with a degree in Vocal Performance and a minor in Theatre. Joe performed in regional theatres across the United States before turning his attention to Directing and Producing. He collaborated on over 250 theatrical productions across the United States as an award-winning actor, director, educator, and producer. Read more>>

Kayla Lowery

Professionally, I have my master’s of science in nursing with a focus in family practice. I have worked as a nurse in specialities such as cardiovascular, oncology, and hospice. I was working in hospice when the pandemic hit and was made one of the company’s covid nurses. There is a lot of pain that comes from working in this environment that I am sure you all can imagine, and I was also pregnant at this time. I replay certain scenarios or patients in my head, and I feel this is something that I will always carry with me. I know my fellow colleagues can agree. Read more>>

Praveen Penmetsa

I come from a long family line of rice farmers. I grew up in India, and my dad moved to the city from the village having leased out our farms. My career path took me toward automobile transportation (I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati) and later to electric and autonomous vehicles. In 2013, while visiting India, I came to realize that electric and autonomous technology could be used for tractors and ultimately benefit not just farmers but impact the world we live in. Read more>>

Sherri Brake

I have been investigating the paranormal since my teenage years and with my love of history, I began a fascination with old buildings, historic towns, and folklore. In my twenties, I became a Civil War re-enactor, and I loved sitting around the campfire at night after events and telling my own brand of ghost stories…true stories blended with folklore and legend. I began investigating homes, businesses, and other locations in my mid-twenties. In 2002, I came up with the idea of building a haunted history walking tour in the town where I was living, Canal Fulton, Ohio. Read more>>

Tyler Kaine

During COVID, we was low on income and decided to use our skills to make Christmas gifts for family and friends. People enjoyed our woodworking so much; they asked us to make them items they could gift to their friends and family. From there, things just expanded. Welp, technically we are still struggling. We still hold our normal 40-hour-a-week job WHILE trying to grow a small business in the spare bedroom and the basement in our home. We Are here to fulfill all your woodworking it from a life-size TARDIS to personalize solid cherry coasters. We work closely with each customer to bring their custom woodworking dreams to life. Read more>>

Sage 14

About a year and a few months ago, I was inspired by earrings my mother bought from various local earring designers. I studied the earrings and decided I wanted to design a pair. We ordered a few supplies, and from there, I started my journey to becoming a small business owner. I displayed my work for the first time at a pop-up market at Luckey Road Lavender Farm. It was very exciting, and a day I will never forget. Since then, I’ve done over 25 pop-up markets, opened an Etsy Shop, and I even have a vendor spot at the mall. Read more>>

Megan Beagle

My greatest adventure started in February of 2011, teaching Zumba classes for a local corporation. My husband Tom has always been very much into fitness since he was 13, but myself not so much. I found myself in 2008 very depressed, overweight (I have struggled with this most of my life and have Hypothyroidism, which plays in my metabolism not working like normal), and even attempted to take my own life at one point. ENTER ZUMBA. Tom suggested I try it since he knew I loved to dance and music. The rest is history. I thought I was going to die, but I loved every second of it. Read more>>

Jason Pasenow

Our business just opened about two months ago today. We have been doing home decor and gifts for people out of our house for a little over 3 years. My wife Elysia and I (Jason Pasenow) own it. Each year it grew bigger and bigger. Our dream was to open a store, and this year, we decided to open a store. We sell home decor and gifts, most of the items we make ourselves. A lot of our work is custom-made for our customers. It all started when we made some Christmas gifts for family, and then my wife wanted some furniture in our house. We made that, and people liked it. Then people started to ask us to make different items for them. Read more>>

Manda Marble

I am a mixed media artist that’s in love with the natural world. I loved to draw as a child and would spend hours sketching portraits. However, as I got older and went to school, I left that behind. I became very involved in music and was the songwriter, singer, and bass player for the rock band “Manda & the Marbles.” We had a good time!! I still write music and play piano and guitar, but I did not start to dabble in the visual arts again until 2018. So, in 2018, I had a renewed interest in art and began to explore acrylics and watercolors. I did not give it much time or effort, but that fire was burning inside me, and I knew that it needed to be expressed. Read more>>

Jason Hayden

It all started about a year and a half ago. I was a freshman at Ohio State. I fell in love with house and electronic music, and from there came the idea of DJing and producing. A good friend of mine, Joe Gayola, already knew how to DJ. He took me under his wing and taught me the basics of it all. From there, it all just sort of flew. I started creating mixes and posting them and they ended up gaining some traction. I used one of them to apply to a local bar for an open DJ position. I ended up securing it, and from there I started playing in front of crowds. Read more>>

Taylor Marier

I’ve always loved learning about how the earth gives us everything we need naturally. When Covid happened, I had a lot of time to read about my passions, and I wanted to share it with everyone. The more thought I put into it, I realized why not create my own products and start sharing what I know with others. 3 years later I’m meeting new people at markets, friends, and sharing what I’ve learned as well. Running your own small business to where you’re doing every aspect of marketing, IT to your own website, becoming a photographer to take Instagram photos plus videos, to making the product, and being a mother of 2, one of which is a toddler, isn’t a walk in the park. Read more>>

Lacey Herbert-Stephen

I have been dancing since I was 3 years old. I had a very talented and amazing instructor growing up who helped get me into competition dancing. I began competing when I was 7 years old but never got very good until I was 15. When we would travel for competitions, we would go to dance conventions which is where you would stay Fri-Sun in a hotel and take classes from top choreographers in the world. This is how you would network, going to the conventions and them watching you as you grew up as a dancer, then when you were older is when you could start traveling and work on booking gigs. Read more>>

Jennifer Beaton

In 2008 I was laid off from my job (I had been there over 20 years), and I was devastated! My daughter Lindsey was selling her handmade jewelry on Etsy at that time, and she knew I loved antiques and suggested I sell my vintage/antiques on Etsy. It was the best decision! It took a lot research to set up an online shop. I had to teach myself photography, as well as promote my shop via social media. For quite a while, I was one of the top 100 sellers on Etsy. A few years ago, we moved from a large house to a small two-bedroom apartment, so I have downsized my shop. Read more>>

Erica Holston

In my life, I have overcome so much by setting goals, listening to what is important to me, and going for what I want. Starting a business has always been an idea but not a complete reality. In my late 20s, I graduated with an associate’s degree in business management from Cincinnati State. A year later, I met my husband, and we married after two years of meeting each other. Also, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Wilmington College. As a married woman, I learned the importance of building good relationships. Read more>>

Pamela Spadaro

I discovered Oola in 2018 from a friend who told me about them. I had seen Troy Amdahl (OolaGuru) and David Braun (OolaSeeker) at a book signing. I read their book Oola: Finding Balance in an Unbalanced World. I realized that I needed this lifestyle framework in my life. The book talks about moving forward with goals and dreams, and the OolaGuys were traveling in their 1970s VW Van collecting stickers and helping people find their passion. I was a special education teacher for 26 years and have always loved helping my students to learn and grow, and I was good at seeing the potential in my students’ abilities. Read more>>

Timothy J. Cox

My name is Timothy J. Cox. I am an actor who has played close to 200 roles on stage and in film. I tend to specialize in character roles, so I often play the lead’s doctor or lawyer, or shrink. I have been very lucky. I have had a chance to be a part of many wonderful films and theatrical productions. I try to be diverse in the types of projects that I get involved in. I try to do projects that challenge me emotionally, mentally, physically. That’s part of the journey of an actor. We are always on the hunt for a challenge. Actors want and should want roles that test them. These days, if a role scares me, I am all in. Read more>>

Brian Collins

I got started in music when I was a kid. I always loved music and as a 3-year-old I had dreams of traveling the world playing La Bamba. I wrote my first rap song the same year I picked up the saxophone (age 11) and started recording music at 14. I sold over 200 copies of my debut CD as a senior in high school, and that changed everything. I always volunteered so I could learn. I took over digital responsibilities for a record label in NYC when I was 18 and ran their myspace page and company email. Read more>>

Audrey Sargus and Karsen Damon

Audrey – I got involved because I wanted to make a difference in kids’ lives! I was automatically accepted for a board position my freshman year where I got to meet our miracle kids, who we raise money for, this changed everything for me and inspired me to keep making an impact. I am now a co-executive director and internal director and just returned from visiting Atlanta Georgia where we raised $15,000 in just one hour for our miracle kids! I dance so kids can have more birthdays, have fun, and live the life they deserve. Read more>>

Chris Donnelly

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained more of a love and appreciation for all things outdoors-related. Trying new sports such as archery or scuba diving, to real backwoods camping. Having a background in video and media production, I decided to take the leap in starting a YouTube Channel and Instagram account early on in the pandemic, sharing these adventures. Starting an Instagram and multiple YouTube channels has actually been quite the struggle. Between a day job, and being a parent, time is truly the biggest struggle when trying to share the outdoors adventures I find myself on. Read more>>

Nancy Caetta

I started making soaps in August of 2019. I had been searching for a hobby that had a good balance of science and art, and soap making was perfect! I loved being able to be creative with scents, colors, shapes- everything! As I started working on perfecting my recipe, I had a few friends ask to try them. They all instantly fell in love and began buying them from me. It was important to me to maintain a simple and sensitive recipe, but I also strived to find one that was vegan friendly, so I wouldn’t need to source any animal byproducts, lard especially. Read more>>

Isaac Singleton

My story as an artist started back in 2016 when my family had made the move to a small apartment building in the downtown of Hamilton Ohio. The building, called ‘The Artspace Hamilton Lofts,’ was a new development in the area, revitalizing a beautiful abandoned department store from 1900 into an affordable living space and art gallery for struggling artists. My mother, a talented oil painter (and later metal sculptor), qualified for residency, being an artist of low income, and moved us into a place that would end up changing my life for the better. Read more>>

Ray’Chel Wilson

My journey started in the classroom. I was the only person in my neighborhood, for miles, to have the opportunity to go to private schools my entire life. My parents’ investment in education was a seed planted that has grown many stems. Like many kids, I grew up wanting a job that allowed me to help others. During my Public Health studies at Ohio State, I realized my passion for adult education. I was recruited by Teach for America, and post-graduation, I moved to Black Wall Street Tulsa to teach high school biology, and later, personal finance for our first ever senior class. Read more>>

Monty Benjamin

I started rapping as early as 12 years old. I wanted to be heard, so I would perform anywhere from talent shows to battle rapping on the street. Early 2009 me and my friends made a group called T.O.S (Take Over Squad). We did performances around the school and pep rallies, but eventually, it dissolved by the time we graduated. After the break-up, I set my sights on becoming a solo act. 2010 I released my first solo project entitled “Nuthin’ Major” on Band camp and other Mixtape platforms such as Live Mixtapes & DatPiff. The project became well received though I was afraid of using my original sound. Read more>>

Antoinette Worsham

T1Diabetes Journey(T1DJ) was birthed June 2017 after the tragic loss of my daughter Antavia Lee-Worsham. Antavia was a type 1 diabetic who died in her sleep due to diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA at the young age of 22. Antavia was rationing her insulin due to the high cost. I started T1DJ to raise diabetes awareness in the community and help diabetics through their maintenance journeys. It has been a challenge since the pandemic due to safety concerns. T1Diabetes Journey’s mission is to raise diabetes awareness in the community and assist diabetics through their maintenance journeys. Read more>>

Karrington Wimbish

I am a NE Ohio native to Painesville, Ohio. I graduated from T. W. Harvey High School in May of 2016. Through high school, I would absolutely consider myself an outcast. I am a plus-size African American woman. There hasn’t been a point in my life where I haven’t been discriminated against or looked down upon. Choosing to embrace who I am definitely in some ways put a bigger target on my back that I just simply had to learn to ignore. When I graduated from high school, I realized if I was going to be scrutinized no matter the avenue I pursued, I should enjoy the things I get scrutinized for. Read more>>

Emma Hicks

For as long as I can remember, I have been painting. Being creative is something that came very naturally to me, and started doing nails when I was in middle school. I taught myself various nail techniques through YouTube and loved it. In high school, I started doing friends’ and families’ nails and it was such a fun time! After I graduated high school, I did one year of college and decided I needed to take a step back and reevaluate my career path. I went to nail school, became certified, and immediately started at my dream salon, Sage Hair and Nails in New Philadelphia. Read more>>

Tammy Adler-Foeller

OpenDoor-Columbus was founded by three moms. Leslie and I were desperate for our daughters to stop using drugs, and Rachel was devastated by the death of her son murdered by men high on drugs. Three moms. One vision. Many goals. Our lives were intersected by sadness, pain, heartache – and eventually, hope. Leslie and I have endured the suffering that comes when a loved one is drowning in the depths of addiction. Both of us know the heartache and loneliness of having daughters addicted to drugs. Two beautiful girls from the suburbs. From “good” families, “good” neighborhoods, “good” schools, “good” upbringing. Both families suffered in silence. And in isolation. Read more>>

Kalee Beatty

I originally started selling empanadas to friends and family as a side hustle because I missed enjoying them, and I wanted my friends to experience a bit of my family’s culture. My sales skyrocketed to large quantities, and I realized I could start a real business with my food. I was a bartender for half a decade before covid hit, and during that year, I decided to use the money I was saving for a house to buy a food truck. It was another year of scraping together funds and remodeling the truck before I could open, though. Read more>>

Sherry Tyree

I grew up on Grantwood right off of 105th and St. Clair. I went to Empire Computech and then went to Collinwood High School, where I would be Cheerleading Captain and Class President. After that, I went to BGSU, and then I later moved to Atlanta. I lived there for 11 years and got a start on my career in entertainment, starting as a host and then later merging into the acting scene. She has been in a Ceelo Green video called “Lead Me” and now has a show that she is a part of called “The Bottom,” which got picked up on Tubi. Read more>>

E. Bradley Heyden

My name is E. Bradley Heyden; I am an Engineer and Producer at Defunk Studios in Stow, Ohio, and work out of my own space in Medina, Ohio. I am an alumni of Full Sail University with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Production. Music has been the main staple in my life as far back as I can remember. From the days of laying under my dad’s piano as he pounded out classic Boogie-Woogie tunes by Freddy Slack, Albert Ammons, and Pete Johnson. When he wasn’t playing my mom would be listening to country music artist like Willey Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Kenny Rogers, and her favorite group of all time The Highwaymen. Read more>>

Eileen Asher

I’m one of those kids that knew what they wanted to do in middle school. Graphic design was the marriage between my creative brain and my type-A personality, so it stuck with me throughout my schooling. I love making logos, posters, and social media graphics. The hard part was not WHAT I wanted to design, but for WHO. I spent the first few years of my career designing for anyone who would come my way. I’ve worked for sports companies, financial planners, and retail shops but didn’t find my nonprofit niche until COVID-19 hit. I was feeling helpless, worried, and scared, and wanted to find a way I could help. Read more>>

Joshua Ryan

After amassing a small fortune in student loan debt for a degree that has little to no value in the comedy world, Joshua embarked on his journey to be an amateur comedy open micer in 2011. Since then, he has received some spots at Gotham Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club, Comedy Works Saratoga, Banana’s, Harrisburg Comedy Zone, Levity Lounge, and some other prestigious venues. He is a New Jersey-based comic who has been described as “charismatic and delightfully miserable with his status in life.” Read more>>

Jada Love

I first started my entrepreneur journey in 2019. I created a Blogging site titled “Love Thyself 101” it was mainly intended to help women on their journey to self-love. I blogged on various topics to help motivate and inspire. Over time my blog became extremely popular and even created its own community of readers called The #SelfLoverCommunity. When I first started Love Thyself 101, I didn’t have much money to invest. I created my own website and content pictures from watching YouTube. My friend Chyresse would tell me how good I was at creating and how good of a job I did on my website that later in the year, I started creating flyers for other businesses. Read more>>

Taylor Newsome

I have always taken photos it did not matter where we are or what we are doing. You can always count on me for capturing photos where we are. Pictures are everything to me. One of the things I have learned growing up is no one lives forever, and photos are all we will have once that moment comes. I started Newsome Photography in January 2022. I wanted to be able to provide photos to more than just the people near me. I believe photos should not be as expensive as a car payment, etc. because you never know when that family photo session or group session is the last time you may have a photo with someone, and I do not want someone choosing not to get photos done because they were too expensive. Read more>>

Sterling Pompey

My love for Photography has always been there in my life; whenever I was out running errands or saw something cool, I would try and capture a picture of it, and over time, I noticed I did it so much that it was obvious I had a love and passion for it, so I pursued it. Years went on, and I purchased my first camera, which was a Canon T3i; I then started to watch videos of other photographers to really learn my camera and know how to use it. Now today in 2022, I have my own business started and living my dream of being a photographer and also crossing over to videography at the same time, so that’s been a fun experience as well. Read more>>

Amy & Dan Smith

The Stone House has found itself in and out of my life since I was a young girl. I am originally from Dresden, Ohio, another small town upriver from McConnelsville. My earliest memories of the 1835 historic home were when I was just passing by on a school bus while traveling for youth sports. I would make sure that I was sitting on the side of the bus that would allow me the best view of the house when our team traveled there for games. Then years later, after taking a job in Morgan County, my first office was on the first floor of the Morris House right next door to the Stone House. Read more>>

Breonna Martorello

My passion for make-up started out as a young girl with an artistic ability. I loved to craft and create things with my hands. Once I found out that makeup was simply painting a canvas, I was obsessed! Make-up has always been an outlet for me. I started my professional journey in 2016 when I graduated from Casal Aveda Institute. I had the privilege of receiving a full scholarship. After graduating, I started my Advanced Aesthetics business, Breezy’s Beauty Bar. I then went on to host and judge multiple scholarship shows.  Read more>>

Ronald Renwick

I like taking chances on things I can visualize personal future interest. I can’t invest time in anything that isn’t going to pique my interest for a long time. Often, we pick a path and lose interest or are in a personal hell we can’t get out of. Which I’ve been in all. I had a grinder and mason jar I always carried around. While it was great a regular grinder has its faults, and carrying around another jar to keep things in was a space waster. Then I came up with the concept of the grinder, and I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to follow through even though I had tons of interest.  Read more>>

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