From starting their business in 2017, to adapting mental health care for a global pandemic, the Brightways Counseling Group is seeing the fruits of their labors as the U.S. Small Business Administration awarded both founders with the Small Business Person of the Year Award for 2022.
The ceremony, held outside, was livestreamed for employees that couldn’t make the event.
“If you do what you feel called to do, then success will follow,” said Kevin Shaw, the owner and co-founder of Brightways.
For Shaw, that calling was helping others.
“It actually started in this office,” said Angie Shaw, Owner and Co-founder of Brightways as well as Kevin’s wife “He was doing therapy and I was right next door helping him help more people.”
Now, the couple stands outside of that office, accepting a national award for the success of their counseling center, where they’ve hired at least one new employee every month since September of 2018.
Their secret lies in adapting to the changing times, such as transferring therapy to an online format.
“I learned a lot about technology,” Kevin said “I learned a lot about telepresence and learned to be good in front of the camera and people feel comfortable in front of a camera.”
“So people who couldn’t come into the office and do therapy could really connect with their therapist,” Angie said.
“We started to actually meet people and they would do counseling through tele-health and then graduate without ever seeing the counselor in person,” Kevin said.
The Shaw’s are keeping their digital therapy as a primary care tool and say that mental health care in rural Oregon can work in a mobile format, no office visit needed.
“What we’re really talking about is trying to meet people where they’re at,” Kevin said.
“But our demand never went away during COVID,” Angie said.
Now that demand is nationally recognized, with a society focusing more on mental health after the long running effects of the pandemic.
“It’s allowed me to see how many people we’ve helped and how many good jobs we’ve provided to people in Central Oregon,” Angie said.
Brightways expanded to Madras, Bend, and Woodburn thanks to SBA grants.