By: Dan Gretzner

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched us all. That’s why we continue to provide resources to nonprofits and small businesses impacted by the crisis.

In May, the Consumers Energy Foundation donated $1.8 million to community organizations supporting small businesses across Michigan, focusing on helping female- and minority-owned companies.

Our foundation does not use funds generated from customers’ energy bills. Instead, it uses shareholder funds to support nonprofit organizations across Michigan.

Here is a look at a business that received a grant and how the funds are helping handle the operational challenges created by COVID-19.

Strong Body, Healthy Mind, Thriving Soul

Theresa Horne has made it her life’s work to help people get and stay healthy. As a health and fitness coach for her company, Sisterhood of Strong, she powered through during the Stay Home, Stay Safe order thanks to a grant from the Jackson Community Foundation and the Enterprise Group of Jackson.

Before COVID-19 hit, Horne met with clients across Jackson and taught fitness classes at the Jackson YMCA, Springport schools and a pilates studio. After sheltering in place, the grant funding helped Horne leverage technology to connect with her clients.

“I invested in a lot of technology like paid subscriptions to online meeting sites so people could feel connected and receive the quality interaction that I aspire to,” she said. “I also invested in a place to host materials like a playbook or manual that I used to give to clients in person.”

Horne transferred many handouts and forms to digital and is connecting with her 20 clients online for now. She started focusing more intensely on her health in 2014 when a doctor’s visit revealed she was overweight.

“I’m not a tiny person today but I am fit and healthy,” Horne said. “When I first started at the Y, I didn’t feel comfortable as the biggest person there. But I was there for me and that is what mattered. Fitness is for everybody of every size. Every color and gender, too. I just wanted to get as healthy as I could at my size. Some of my clients are not overweight, but they are not eating healthy. It becomes a mindset and lifestyle change.”

Horne has shifted her business strategy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I want to continue to grow in the online marketplace,” she said. “People go to a gym, but others are not interested. I want to bring fitness to the people that want to be fit but are not ready to do that in a public atmosphere.”

“We all deserve the opportunity to build a strong body, healthy mind and thriving soul.”