Dream Big

Three local women share how they found their paths by following their passions.

Charmetra Bailey-Mason Food Pantry 

Charmetra Bailey, director of Mason Food Pantry, had worked in the corporate world for nine years supporting the head of operations at a large hospital system when she felt called to do more. 

“I was very good at what I did, but at times I felt like a robot,” shares Charmetra. “At my prayer group, I was always asking for help finding my purpose because I felt like I should be doing something more to help people.”

A part-time opportunity at the Mason Food Pantry, a mission-based nonprofit started by Grace Chapel in Mason where Charmetra was a congregation member, soon presented itself. After two months, she was asked to become the pantry’s only paid full-time employee. She was uncertain about making the shift from the corporate world to the nonprofit world, but it became a pivotal “yes moment” in her life. 

“People said ‘yes’ to me and believed I could do it, and that helped me take the leap,'' says Charmetra. “I didn’t have a nonprofit background so I will always be learning in this field. I just wanted to help people. If you have heart for something, there is no limit to what you can do.” 

At Mason Food Pantry Charmetra and about 60 volunteers serve 300-400 people a month. It’s a warm, inviting environment, designed like a local corner store where shoppers can pick their own grocery and personal care items. They are open three days a week (Mon, Wed, Sat) and have not missed one day since the pandemic began. 

“We want shoppers to come in and feel comfortable to talk to us so we can connect them to resources they may not even know are available,” explains Charmetra. “People will always have need, but for those who can transition, the ultimate goal is to help them go from need to abundance.” 

Charmetra encourages people to remember that any of us could find ourselves in need and we can also all make a difference. 

“You can’t generalize people who would need assistance. Food insecurity doesn’t have a look,” says Charmetra. 

Small donations can be made at their 24-hour bin, or be dropped off at the pantry Monday and Thursday mornings. To make a monetary donation, find out about volunteering, organizing a food drive and the current list of most-needed items, reach out at 513.229.3191 or visit their website, MasonFoodPantry.org

“People will always have need, but for those who can transition, the ultimate goal is to help them go from need to abundance.” 

Joy Bennett-Jumpstart Marketing 

Joy Bennett, owner of Jumpstart Marketing, has lived in Mason for more than 20 years. Not long after she and her husband Scott moved to the area, their first child Elli was born with five congenital heart defects. Elli also suffered a brain injury that caused cerebral palsy and seizures, which necessitated Joy becoming her full-time caregiver. It was the supportive services and schools in Warren County that convinced them to put down roots. Elli passed away in 2008, which put life into sharp perspective.  

“It really helped me understand what was truly important and what was frivolous,” shares Joy. Her other three kids helped her get through the aftermath of Elli’s death, and from there Joy embarked on re-entering the workforce on her own terms. 

Joy has spent much of her professional life simplifying the overwhelming and complex. That began with writing technical guides and instructions for IT companies. It was also key to helping parents navigate the stress and insurance headaches of medical care while she led the Family Advisory Board at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. These days, it’s creating strategies to help businesses catch and keep their customers' attention and trust so they can grow. As she puts it, “there is always a need for great communicators.” 

When Joy founded Jumpstart Marketing in 2011, she was clear on what she wanted to do and who she wanted to work with. 

“I really value flexibility and being able to set my own schedule,” she says. “I also like being intentional about who we choose to work with. We want to work with businesses that have shared values around prioritizing family and people over profits.” 

For those also interested in starting their own business, Joy highly recommends finding a group of entrepreneurs to learn from, and working with a mentor to encourage you not to settle and keep moving. 

“What got you to this point, will not necessarily get you to the next. Having a mentor will help you see what you don’t see yourself and encourage you to dream beyond what you thought possible,” shares Joy. 

To learn more about how Joy can help your business with marketing plans that work in the real world, visit JumpstartMarketing.com

"Having a mentor will help you see what you don’t see yourself and encourage you to dream beyond what you thought possible.”

Beatrice Balmaseda-Bea’s Flowers 

When Beatrice Balmaseda, owner of Bea’s Flowers, moved to Mason from Miami, Florida with her husband Marcos, she was happy to find it reminded her of her native Switzerland. 

“Miami just didn't work for me,” shares Bea. “I'm a Swiss girl. I needed four seasons. I also love that people in Mason really care about local businesses and watch out for one another. It touches my heart to see how many people are there to help if you need it.”

Back in Switzerland, Bea found an early love of flowers and encouragement from her father to follow her dreams. 

“It was always a dream of mine as a little girl to become a florist. I grew up in the countryside, where we had a big backyard with tall grass and wildflowers. I would make bouquets and pretend to have my own store set up outside. My dad was supportive early on and it was always his dream for me to open a flower shop,” explains Bea.  

In Switzerland florists must be certified. This process includes a three-year apprenticeship where students spend four days a week working and one day at school learning color and shapes, drawing and design, botany, trade skills, and scientific names and terminology of flowers and plants. After passing practical and theory exams they receive their certification.

Bea became a certified Swiss Florist in 1997 and worked in the industry for several years before going into other fields. She never lost her love of flowers though, and when she was looking for something to bring back her joy after experiencing postpartum depression, she returned to her profession as a florist. 

Bea’s floral style is “unique and modern,” with Calla lilies and Monstera leaves often featuring as her signatures. However, she is happy to create more traditional bouquets or custom arrangements using input from her customers who choose the “Bea’s Flower’s Signature Choice” option on her website.  

She currently works from home and has a limited schedule Monday-Friday which offers her the flexibility to be with her two sons. Her home business is thriving and Bea is getting closer to realizing her father’s dream by opening her own storefront in Mason. Once she has part-time employees she will expand her hours and offerings. And while she wishes her father was still alive to support her, she feels confident she will succeed.   

“My dad saw the potential when I was younger, but I wasn’t ready. I'm excited to take on the challenge now and I know I can conquer it because I started from nowhere and the demand keeps growing,” says Bea. 

Place orders for all your floral needs online at Bea-Flowers.com.

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