SMILE A WHILE THERAPY SERVICES: Occupational Therapy for Mount Vernon’s Kids

Joanne Oates“Julieta from Community Capital has provided me with guidance and continues to connect me to a network of professionals who are educating me on many aspects of small business structuring.  She’s  helping me avoid costly mistakes.


Support Provided: Small Business Loan, Access to Legal Assistance and Educational Scholarship

Impact: One full-time and one part-time job created, woman/minority owned business, urban neighborhood revitalization

Business background:

Joanne Oates is taking her experience as a pediatric occupational therapist and pairing it with her entrepreneurial spirit to provide a much needed resource to her community.  “I opened Smile A While Therapy Services so kids and their families can have access to a professional outpatient OT facility in their neighborhood.  Right now, Mount Vernon parents have to travel significant distances to find state of the art therapy centers for their children,” says owner Oates. Joanne began thinking about the prospect of owning her own practice while she was a graduate student at Mercy College and knew she’d need seed money to get started. “I had read about Community Capital so when the time was right, they were my first call.”

How we are Helping:

When Joanne approached Community Capital she needed a loan to get her facility ready. VP of Lending, Julieta McPherson notes “Joanne had contracts with Westchester’s Early Intervention and Committee on Preschool Education programs – agencies that provide reimbursement for services directly to the therapist.  But as a startup, her access to capital was limited.” Community Capital helped her negotiate a lease and extended a $50,000 small business loan to fund renovations and purchase equipment so Smile A While Therapy Services could open. In addition to her county contracts, Joanne is now marketing her business to local pediatricians, preschool and day care centers and other community organizations.  Longer term she plans to augment her practice by also offering pediatric speech and physical therapy services to meet the varied needs of children with sensory issues.

Company Info:

105 Stevens Ave., Suite 303

Mount Vernon, NY  10550