Welcome to day 3 of our International Women’s Day celebrations! For those of you just joining us, we are featuring the stories of local, talented business women in the Barrie and Surrounding areas in honor of International Women’s Day. Today we are pleased to introduce Lyndsey Stevenato of Lyndsey Stevenato Children’s Therapy Services.
Lyndsey has had a heart for children with challenges since becoming an Occupational Therapist. She has a passion to see children be the best they can be with whatever skills they have. She began her career in 1986 at Laurentian Hospital in Sudbury. After one year in adult rehabilitation, she moved into pediatrics at their Children’s Treatment Centre. Within this position, she would fly into remote areas of Northern Ontario under the government initiative “Integrated Services for Northern Children”. Lyndsey then went on to become certified in the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test, she then became a qualified observer (one of two observers in Canada!) After working for a few years in London, Ontario then Barrie, Lyndsey saw the growing trend with publicly funded agencies moving to a consultation model. She believed that a hands-on approach was most effective to bring changes in a child’s function. Thus, LSCTS was formed. Lyndsey has a keen interest and a strong skill set in sensory integration and feeding ability.
Lyndsey Stevenato, Founder and Owner of Lyndsey Stevenato Children’s Therapy Services.
What got you interested in working in your industry? What was your trajectory to get to where you are today?
At the time LSCTS was founded in 2001, there were limited choices available for families that had children with difficulties and disabilities aside from publically funded agencies. These agencies were moving into a consultative model due to limited resources and extensive waiting lists. LSCTS was formed to give parents a choice so they could receive therapy without a long waiting period by highly qualified professionals using hands-on therapy. In 2001 the company consisted of myself and a part-time receptionist. Today we have 4 Occupational Therapists, 2 Speech and Language Pathologists, 3 therapy assistants, 1 social worker, 1 psychologist, 1 therapy dog and a full-time receptionist. In 17 years, we have had three moves to increase our space. Our model allows us to provide various therapies under one roof so families can receive a coordinated and inclusive approach to their child’s care.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career? What has been the most frustrating?
Most rewarding – Seeing children thrive with disabilities. Following them since preschool and see how they have become contributing members of our community,
Most frustrating – Having to charge for our services. Many of our occupational therapy services are not covered under third party insurance so that makes it twice as hard for parents to access the services they need in a timely fashion.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in your career?
I was approached in 2011 by a large rehabilitation company wanting to buy my business. It was a hard decision to make but felt the company would lose the small town feel that took so much of my career to build. I chose not to sell but to grow my business to include services that my clients were looking for. Taking that on was a huge challenge. I needed to expand our space and prepare for a variety of professionals to join our company. I have never looked back!
In 2007, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Being self employed, with no disability insurance, I was now needing to find someone who could run the business for at least 9 months with exactly one week’s notice. That seemed to be an impossible feat although with a whole lot of faith, I found someone I trusted to do just that. This could have ended the business but as we say, the rest is history!
What advice do you have for other women (or men) who would like to get into a career like yours?
Be sure to go and observe various settings and agencies to get a feel of what the profession is all about. Ask to shadow for a day or volunteer in their programs.
What piece of advice, or tip from a mentor, do you think about often that has helped you make decisions about your professional life?
Don’t try to be all things to all people. Stick to what you are best at and make it exceptional. Take responsibilities for your mistakes. Making mistakes makes you an entrepreneur!
Can you walk me through a typical day?
Everyday is a new day so nothing is very typical but I’ll give it a try. Usually I start my day early with some physical activity and then to the office by 7:30am. I get some quiet time to organize my day and review charts of the clients I am scheduled to see and plan for therapy sessions before anyone arrives. My day would consist of one hour consultations or assessments of new clients that have come with their caregivers. Some days I could see 5 new clients and some ongoing clients that come for half hour or 45 min appointments and of course a walk with our therapy dog Lennon. Any other time I have, I am writing reports and keeping up with office demands. I designate some days strictly to tackle administrative issues and one half day a week I volunteer for Redwood Park Communities. Evenings could be filled with meetings for church activities, Redwood or spending time with my family. I have a no work weekend policy that I try to adhere to 🙂
If you could spend a year studying something, what would it be?
Masters in Health Administration
What hobbies or passions outside of work currently occupy your time? Or what project(s) are you currently working on?
- Since 2013 I have been a volunteer family support worker for Redwood Park Communities where I assist women who have survived domestic abuse and their children.
- Starting in 2011 I became the lead volunteer for Hearts to Hands which is a ministry out of Willow Creek Baptist Church that provides practical needs to our community.
- I provide free screening days for families who cannot afford our therapeutic services and free consultations for Syrian refugee families.
- I assisted with the curriculum development for the OTA/PTA course at Georgian College and I continue to be a volunteer on the Program Advisory Committee.
- I am a volunteer advisor to Sweet Charity Personal Support Dog Program.
- I provide free parent workshops in the community at churches and various non-profit groups and paid workshops for professionals and for-profit agencies.
- I enjoy physical exercise such as hiking, biking, skiing and have been running with the same group of ladies for 17 years.
What advice would you give your fourteen-year-old self?
Get involved with volunteering somewhere that peaks your interest. Serving others allows us to take the focus away from ourselves, teaches us who we are, builds self-confidence, and most especially brings us joy. What I have learned volunteering in my later years, has been far greater than what I have given.
A big congratulations goes out to Lyndsey as she is a finalist for tomorrow’s Women in Business Awards!