In the Spotlight: Anne Michels of Green Pastures Living
By: Colleen McBride
Green Pastures Living took root a couple years ago when Anne Michels was in the process of finding housing for her aging father. He had never lived outside the rural setting and she found no options that were available for him. Since then, she has been crafting a place that will be alive and active with green and growing things, where seniors can age in place and continue with hobbies and their community.
Anne is drawn to people who love the country and desire to remain rooted in rural living. She desires to help these people retain their familiar surroundings and activities. Her frugal upbringing helps her strive to provide an affordable housing option for those who need it.
I think many people can relate to your experience trying to find housing for your father. Oftentimes, it seems as though adequate senior housing is either unavailable or unaffordable. How do you speak with family members who have gone through a tough search like this, who are struggling to find a good place for their loved ones?
I think it’s very important to show that I relate to their experiences, having experienced many of the same struggles myself. Everyone I speak with, for the most part, can relate to my story in some way. I don’t see this need being met by anyone else in the area, fulfilling senior housing needs in rural areas in an affordable, supportive way.
If I am speaking with family members, it’s important to acknowledge that they can’t accomplish this alone. You need someone to help you through caring for an ageing parent, whether they are staying home alone and doing well or struggling to have their care needs met. Green Pastures is trying to approach this in a multi-faceted way, aiming to provide community support to people facing these challenges. It can be a difficult experience, which is why you need people to support you with expertise and experience. This isn’t a nursing home or assisted living—it’s independent housing that’s a stepping stone from what a senior currently has to what they might end up needing in the future.
Were you always passionate about senior care? Was this the direction you saw your career moving towards?
I feel like Green Pastures incorporates all my life experiences so far. I grew up with older parents, so I was always in the presence of older people—I always knew my parents with grey hair. I feel like I have always been drawn to the older generation, whether that’s through caring for them or just spending time with them. I have these values instilled in me—my parents were part of the generation from the Great Depression who appreciate hard work and commitment—and this uniquely informs my desire to serve older people.
I started my career in a group home working with people with disabilities. After college, I got married and had twins, so for the past two decades I’ve been caring for my family. Even as a stay-at-home mom, however, I was always working to challenge myself and try new things, whether that was working in church ministry or working in other leadership capacities. All of these things prepared me to develop Green Pastures as a business.
When my youngest son went away to school, I started doing at-home senior care, and that’s right around when my dad was going into senior living as well. I got to help people going through a similar experience, which was meaningful. At the beginning of the pandemic, I left this position to develop my business plan for Green Pastures full-time. It was bittersweet, because I loved supporting the families in the in-home care career I did. However, I really like helping people realize that there’s more options to senior living—places where they can age in place and keep engaging with their community.
As a Triple Threat Venture Training Participant, can you talk a little about your experience working with Doyenne and how this program has helped you to develop as an entrepreneur?
Of course! I came to Doyenne at the end of March this year. I came in as an entrepreneur that doesn’t have much experience in the business world, so I really need the support of knowledge about building a business, along with someone who’s able to guide me on what I need to do that well. Doyenne has all that and a valuable network, which is a great tool. I was talking to someone in the community that was a mentor that recommended I join, which was especially key for me because I’m doing something relatively new. That’s much more complicated because I need to develop a solid business plan for my non-profit organization—I don’t really have an existing blueprint for the kind of work I’m doing.
TTVT is a great program because it forces me to be intentional about strategic business planning and financial planning. The process of going through TTVT and 5x5x5 helped me take the ideas that were in my head and communicate them to possible clients and investors in a clear way—something I wouldn’t have been able to do by myself. This involves a lot of intentional growth exercises, working with people that will give you advice, direction, and share their network with you—you don’t always get that in the business world. People sharing their time and talent with me makes me want to be generous as well—this breeds an abundance of resources and makes me want to reciprocate their generosity.
For example, we need to practice our pitches together. This is something I don’t like doing, but it’s encouraging to do it with the other people in the program, and it helps us grow as entrepreneurs. It’s been quite a journey to develop my TTVT pitch; I start with my story and upbringing and how that informs the foundation for Green Pastures. I continue with my mission to figure out how to make this idea an affordable reality, and work to establish independent housing in rural areas.