Chamber Insider Blog

SBA Finalist Spotlight: A Place To Be

Thank you to A Place to Be for answering a few of our questions.
Congratulations on being named a finalist for Loudoun Nonprofit of the Year!
The 24th Annual Loudoun Small Business Awards will be on November 1, 2018 – Tickets/More Info Here

1. Tell us your story of how your company got to where it is today?

After years of working with youth through theater, music, dance, teaching and directing, we saw the power of the arts to reach into the heart and core of a person, helping them to express emotions, process life challenges and find acceptance in themselves and others. One day, Tom was working with a young man with Autism who had no friends and felt that he didn’t fit in anywhere; he cried out, “I just wish I had a place to be,” and the title was born. In 2010, we began A Place To Be. We spent the first three years of our business, incubating and creating programs that organically grew from the needs and interests of our first clients and staying true to our mission of helping people face, navigate and overcome life’s challenges using music therapy and expressive arts therapy. We started with just Tom and Kim, and 25 clients. Today we have a staff of 17, including Board-certified music therapists, and expressive arts therapists that serve nearly 400 families per week. Every step of or growth has come from listening to our clients and families, using the cutting-edge research of music therapy and always staying focused on our values and mission. Our work now includes One-on-One Therapy sessions, our innovative daylong experiential Immersion program, social therapeutic groups, medical music therapy at INOVA Hospitals, music therapy for other Loudoun County facilities such as Grafton and Echo, our touring performance-based Same Sky Project and also summer camps. But A Place To Be is more than just our programs. We are a community dedicated to the values of inclusivity and respect. We truly believe that ALL people deserve to feel like someone big and to have a place to be in their lives where they can find acceptance, hope and possibilities

2. What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?

While we are one of the largest non-profit music therapy organizations in the country, we are committed to offering our services as part of Loudoun County’s vibrant community of health and human services. Winning a Small Business Award connects us even stronger to the fabric of this amazing community where we are all trying to live our best lives and help others find their place to be in this world

3. If you weren’t running your own business/working at this business, what would you be doing?

We’re lucky to have made lifetime careers out of being in the arts and in the helping professions, so even if we were not running our own business, we would be doing more of the same. We are passionate about our work and the positive impact that the arts can have on our lives. It seems in today’s world, that we could all use some help. We are learning more and more through the advances in neuroscience just how critical the arts are to our learning, our empathy, our storytelling and our humanity.

4. What book are you reading right now? / What is your favorite book?

Kim just finished “The Sun Does Shine” by Lara Love Hardin and Bryan Stevenson about Anthony Ray Hinton’s release from 30 years wrongly accused on death row.  Among the book’s many lessons, it reminds us that slowing down to really listen and really see someone connects us to the humanity and hope in us all.  Tom is currently reading “The Power Paradox” by Dacher Keltner, which is a scientific and philosophical look into power, its use and abuse.

5. If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?

Paint, read, watch a movie, hike our beautiful county, write…are you sure we only get 24 hours?

6.What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?

The gratitude of parents and families has made an immeasurable impact on A Place To Be. When families are addressing disabilities, or medical or mental health challenges, they can often feel so isolated. But the minute they walk into A Place To Be, they are seen and heard and accepted for just being themselves. They quickly find that there is a community connecting them together. There are no words to really describe watching this unfold. It’s the true magic behind A Place To Be and what inspires us to reach more every day.

7. What did you want to be when you grew up as a child? / What was a childhood dream that you had?

Kim wanted to be a dancer and a doctor, so finding expressive arts therapy was like hitting the jackpot! Tom wanted to be an actor, pastor and psychologist and now as a music therapist, he is a little bit of all three.

8.Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?

Many people inspired Kim through their leadership rooted in values, curiosity and compassion, but the first was her father who pushed the boundaries of what is possible, seeing the best in people and leading with integrity, dignity and love. For Tom, it was actually another Tom, Tom Northrup, who was his boss, mentor and friend at the Hill School in Middleburg for 15 years. Tom credits this mentorship for showing him what a true leader can be – empathetic, brilliant, charismatic and constantly fighting for what is best for humanity.

9. What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?

The people – we are such a large county, and while we are way over here in the Western-most part, we feel so connected to the whole county because people really come together here to preserve a quality of life and a community that cares.  That and our commute around the county to the various sites we partner with gives us a chance to see the beauty and diversity of the county every week – it’s truly an amazing place to live and work!

10. If you’re not in the office where can we find you?

Creating new shows, walking around Middleburg, or you’ll find Tom at Native Barre teaching “Tomba”!

11. What is your favorite weekend activity in Loudoun County?

Enjoying the beautiful views of the wineries (or breweries) with friends.