How Patricia McCreary Built Margaret's Place for "God's Original Angels"
Founder of Margaret’s Place
Kansas City, Missouri
In preparation for the Black Entrepreneurs Blueprint to Success Summit on August 6, we spoke to Patricia McCreary, one of the many featured speakers for the summit.
Below, Patricia talks about how Margaret’s Place, a senior recreation center at Troost & 72nd Street in Kansas City, Missouri, came to serve so many area seniors and the intense struggles she overcame along the way.
Here at Margaret’s Place, we offer a clean, safe, secure and fun senior recreation center. We encourage activities, socialization, independence and enhanced community connectedness. Through our work, we help prevent depression, decrease feelings of isolation and increase quality of life for mature adults.
Our goal is to duplicate the caring atmosphere of home in our establishment. We aim to make sure that our seniors have a wholesome and enjoyable day at Margaret’s Place, every day. We open the door for our seniors to believe that they that they can still live full lives.
I never knew how fulfilling this would be when God told me that this is what he wanted me to do. To see the transformation in my seniors is amazing. Most come to me depressed and ready to give up on life, and in only a couple of weeks, they each transform into this big kid excited about life again and trying new things.
How did Margaret’s Place get started? Why?
I opened my center because after visiting several in my area I was unsuccessful at finding a center that my grandmother “Margaret” fell in love with. She spent the last three years of her life on bed rest in a fetal position. I believe with all my heart that if we would have found her a place like Margaret’s Place her last days would have been more fulfilling.
I learned that there was a huge need for a place for seniors to go to that was clean, fun and full of life. So that is why I opened Margaret’s Place: to give life, hope and a chance for God’s original angels (the seniors) to be happy and active in their last days. A chance my grandmother never got!
My husband and I put over $9,000 down on our first building, and we were told that all we needed to do was get the building rehabbed and we’d be ready to open. After three years of lies and broken promises by the man we bought the building from, we decided to sell our building and wash our hands of all the mess and ties with him.
Soon after, I received a call from the man that owned the building next door, and I told him about Margaret’s Place and my passion, goals and dreams for its success. He called just to congratulate me and ended up asking if I wanted a partner who could help make my vision come to life. I said yes, of course! He was like an angel!
God has a way of working out all the kinks when his plan is in order. We got started on the rehab right away, and I watched my vision go from a seed in my head to a beautiful garden in just eight months.
What do you find most challenging about being a business owner?
Time and patience. Time has been a big challenge for me with this business. Everything is hurry up and wait. Patience because with every business I have ever started I have looked for things to happen right now.
This is the first business I started where I slowed myself down and was patient. I believe that this is why I am successful with this business. Building a business is not an overnight thing. You have to handle business and know when to calm down and wait for results. I’m not saying to sit down and do nothing while you wait on certain things, instead know that some of the process of starting your business will take time.
So allow time for what you need time for and be sure to keep working on the things that can get done now. There are so many things that need to be done to start your business and to keep it going.
What challenges have you faced specific to being a black entrepreneur?
It may be a little harder to start a black- owned business, but hardly impossible. You just push harder and make it happen. Determination is your best friend. So be determined to reach the finish line by any means necessary, and you will fly through all your challenges.
Funding is challenging. I don’t believe in letting the fact that I am a black women put any walls in front of me. I believe we as black people need to realize that although racism still is present in our time, we still have access to almost all the same resources as other races.
I think Kansas City is a great place to start and grow a business because we are a growing city. It would be nice if the city would create an outlet to communicate and advertise black-owned businesses.
I find it difficult to gain support from black consumers. We are so quick to support other businesses, but when it comes to supporting our own small black-owned businesses we are so quick to complain or want a discount.
What sacrifices in your personal life did you have to make to become a business owner?
A lot! My family has made countless sacrifices in the process of opening our business. I put my other businesses on the shelf, which meant we had no income coming in from them. This cut us down to one income in our household, which was a domino effect to a lot of unpaid bills and stress. However, my husband and I kept the faith and kept pushing.
Our children have had to also sacrifice because of the large scale of sacrifices being made by us. We simply could not hide the struggle from them. Instead, we will use this as a learning experience for them. We will pass this business to them as they become adults.
Living in the struggle now and being educated on the why and how sacrifices are necessary--those are big learning experiences for them that they will always remember. Our children now know firsthand about the need to sacrifice if it means building a future for your family and our people as a whole.
What do you admire about other entrepreneurs?
I admire anyone who has the guts to step out on faith and do what God tells them to do.
I believe that starting and maintaining a successful business is one of the hardest things to do in this world. I have been self-employed since I was 19 and I have learned a lot. Running a successful business is more than just hard work. It’s about having the strength to weather the storm. It’s about guts and the willingness to learn from your mistakes.
Being a business owner takes a lot out of you and just when you think you got it, it takes some more. You have to be strong and faithful to the finish line. So I admire all successful entrepreneurs for going through the storm and reaching the light on the other end.
Thank you, Patricia!
While you wait for the Black Entrepreneurs Blueprint to Success Summit to roll around on August 6, here are a few reads about some of the expo's featured speakers that you may enjoy:
Alisa J. Henley: Opportunities come to those who are ready for them
Chris Goode: Ruby Jean's Juicery Whips Up a Healthy Start
Dre Taylor: Kansas City Entrepreneur Builds an Oasis in a Food Desert
Kansas City Multicultural Entrepreneurs in Action
A Coalition for Kansas City's Multicultural Businesses
Register for the Black Entrepreneurs Blueprint to Success Summit now. And head over to Facebook to invite your friends. We’ll see you there!