2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the Business Development Department of Momentum. To celebrate, we collected 20 stories about past participants who have thriving businesses. Written by Marnie Schaetti of RaiDo Dynamics, these stories reflect the diversity, innovation and hard work of the inspiring participants who come through our doors every year to take one of our many programs.
This is one of those stories.
Entrepreneur Name: Rev. Susan Brandt
Programs: Self Employment Program, Micro Business Loans
Program Years: 2004, 2005
Business Description: Counseling, teaching and public speaking with a specialty in trauma and addiction.
By the time Susan Brandt was 15, she had survived on the streets for two years and no one was looking for her any more. Addiction, poverty and trauma were her norm.
A spiritual awakening turned her life around when she was in her mid-twenties. She returned to high school, then worked and attended school for years. She attended Queen’s University on a full scholarship from Corrections Services Canada to get a diploma in Restorative Justice.
She became a public health psychiatric nurse, an ordained member of the clergy, and an internationally certified therapist and clinical supervisor in the field of addiction and trauma.
Susan makes sure her work and education serve one purpose: to uplift the poor and brokenhearted. She started simply, packing up her nursing kit, a Bible and some sandwiches, heading out into the back alleys where the homeless live. Over time, one of the largest street agencies in Ottawa was created around her work.
After serving as the agency executive director for 20 years, she was scouted to move to Calgary. The job did not work out as she had hoped, and she was left unemployed with no money to get back home. In fact, after many years, Susan was close to homelessness once again.
Undefeated, Susan drew on her resilience and entrepreneurial spirit to move forward. Momentum taught her the technicalities of running a business and helped her figure out how to start again at the age of 50. Everything she learned reaffirmed her calling to a life of service.
After 10 years in Calgary, Susan is well known. She uses her academic training and her personal experience in her work as a psychotherapist and in her private counseling practice, and is a frequent keynote speaker.
Susan helps people find joy in spite of their circumstances. She is the kind of person she would have loved to meet when she lived on the street.
Learn more about Momentum’s Business Development programs.