WINDOM, Minn. – Kerstin Cooley has opened a private counseling practice in her hometown area with help from Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Microenterprise Loan Program. The new business, Stepping Stone Counseling LLC, offers outpatient mental health therapy from an office at 339 9th Street on the Windom square.
A licensed clinical social worker with 25 years of experience, Cooley previously worked in long-term care in Worthington and Windom, and in the mental health field in Windom. She opened Stepping Stone Counseling in January this year with her husband, Brian, who has continued his position with the city of Windom while providing financial guidance for the counseling practice.
Stepping Stone Counseling serves ages 15 through adults and offers telehealth in addition to in-person appointments. Cooley is credentialed in Medicare, Medicaid and multiple private and public insurance companies. She will also be seeking a contract with the Veteran Administration to allow veterans to receive services in their local community.
“There is a shortage of experienced, licensed mental health professionals in our area, and it’s important to me to have this resource for our community,” Cooley said. “I am so thankful for the guidance that SWIF has provided; they are so supportive and encouraging.”
The loan from SWIF helped purchase equipment and fund working capital expenses at Stepping Stone Counseling.
“We’re happy to support Kerstin in opening a business that helps her share her unique skill set and provides economic opportunity,” said Jackie Turner, SWIF Economic Development Officer.
Loan programs have been a key function of SWIF since its inception to support communities and businesses throughout southwest Minnesota. In 2001, microlending was added to existing programs as a tool to support small businesses and people looking for self-employment opportunities.
Microloan clients receive free technical assistance from SWIF staff to improve their business management skills. Areas of support include business planning and financials analysis, QuickBooks training, marketing assistance and other training opportunities for the life of the loan.
This microloan program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact SWIF at 800-594-9480, 320-587-4848 or [email protected].
About Southwest Initiative Foundation
Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) is a nonprofit community foundation connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities to create a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive. Since its founding in 1986, SWIF has distributed more than $88 million through its grantmaking and business finance programs.
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