Small Business Spotlight (SBS) – Beyond Basic Needs By Rachel Minion
Have you ever experienced an event in your life where your global support network wanted to help but didn’t know how or you wanted to help someone and were clueless about how you could help? Life can throw many unexpected moments our way when we need some extra help, be it a medical emergency or the birth of a baby. My husband Vivek and I went through our basic challenges when he was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in December. So many of our friends wanted to help but had no idea how to help. I came across Rachel Minion’s nonprofit Beyond Basic Needs just a few weeks ago and can see how this platform could be of help to so many.
They say most successful ideas come from your own moments of need and realized it was missing and that is exactly what happened with Rachel Minion. Her own cancer journey and a co-worker is what launched the non-profit Beyond Basic Needs. They provide the platform where anyone can raise money for basic services including food delivery, cleaning services, driving services, and other basic needs through crowdfunding at no charge to the individual. She believes these services are imperative to improving the quality of life through challenging times.
Rachel was a carefree thirty-year-old, newlywed living life to the fullest in the windy city of Chicago with her husband Jon. On a business trip to NYC, while in the meeting, she started to feel uncomfortable at first, then broke out into sweats and started turning green, the smell of the coffee became overpowering, her pants went from fitting perfectly to way too tight in a matter of minutes, which was followed by nausea. Her immediate thought was “OMG, I am pregnant”, she even called her hubby and told him the “good” news.
But after a week or so after being back from Chicago when she could not handle the abdominal pain/discomfort, she ended up in an emergency clinic. The following day they got a call from the clinic saying that not only was she not pregnant but her white blood count was really high indicating an infection and needed to head to an ER right away. Between that visit to the ER and more doctor appointments she was diagnosed with Cancer of the Appendix. Not a diagnosis she or Jon could have ever imagined.
The minute you hear the C-word, life changes and it changes immediately. The things that seemed so incredibly important 5 minutes before were now insignificant. The last thing a person diagnosed with cancer even thinks about is basic needs.
Let’s find out more about Rachel and her vision behind starting Beyond Basic Needs
FTW: Growing up, we always have thoughts about what we want to be when we grow up. Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were 5 years old?
Rachel: When I was little, I always wanted to grow up and be a rock star. I had no musical talent whatsoever (and still don’t), but I wanted a platform to change the world. I built my first company Rockstarr & Moon in a tribute to my first ambition where empower aspiring rockstarr business owners to successfully start, build, and grow their business so that they can create the lives they’ve dreamed of for themselves, their families, and their communities.
FTW: What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Rachel: I don’t think I’m the kind of gal who would have taken advice from anyone at a younger age. I wish that is something that I could have been able to impact. The only advice I could give would is that life is an adventure. While there will be ups and downs, there is opportunity in every crisis. Things may seem that they are the end of the world, but they aren’t. There is opportunity to change, to grow, to make something from nothing and you already have all the tools and resources to be able to do so successfully.
FTW: What was the vision/the WHY behind starting Beyond Basic Needs
Rachel: I was diagnosed with Cancer of the Appendix seven years ago in my mid-thirties. The minute you hear the word cancer, your life changes in ways only a cancer warrior can describe. Not only did it change for me, but for my entire support network. The last thing I ever expected was a cancer diagnosis only a few months after we were married and had just moved to a new city with no family or friends in town. I felt isolated with no ability to focus on the basic needs like getting dinner on the table or getting the dogs fed.
The minute I shared my diagnosis and pending surgeries with my network, everyone wanted to help by sending in dinner, helping bring in cleaning services and even securing dog walkers for our three monsters. While I wanted to be able to allow everyone to help, project managing and coordinating all of the offers was too much for me. I didn’t know the area, so we didn’t have favorite restaurants, a cleaning service or even dog walkers. Each of my family and friends felt helpless when I turned them down. It was personally too much for me to handle on top of preparing for the upcoming surgeries.
After I recovered, I dedicated my life to helping other cancer warriors and friends in my support network. I would help project manage the basic needs so they could focus on the important things in life and their recoveries and readjustment to life.
While insurance covers the cost of some/most of the hospital treatments or medical visits, basic needs are not covered. As a global support network, we want to be able to help our friends and family after a medical event, but we aren’t normally living in the same area. The challenge is much larger for those of us whose support network is not local.
In my attempt to change the world, I created Beyond Basic Needs to fill the void. Whether it’s a life changing diagnosis or an incredible experience of joy with having a baby, I want to help the community thrive.
FTW: Was there an aha moment that got you rolling on this dream?
Rachel: There were a few aha moments, but I think the most poignant one for me was while I was working at Ticketmaster. One of my coworkers was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and was headed to the hospital for surgery, followed by rounds of chemo and radiation over the next few months. I asked my peers what we do for someone when a medical event happens and was met with silence. Silence was unacceptable. Their response showed that we didn’t care about the person we spent 50+ hours a week working alongside for years.
Ignoring the responses of my coworkers, I found the hospital and started arranging gift baskets of games and toiletries for his hospital stay. I shared what I was working on at the next team meeting. It wasn’t surprising that the rest of my team members donated money. When it came time for chemo and radiation, I created an infrastructure to bring support to him and his wife even though I was thousands of miles away. There aren’t words for the kind of impact that we can make on someone’s life during times of crisis. Supporting them and their family wasn’t easy, but it’s the right thing to do. We all want to help other people, but we often pause when it comes to taking action.
I created Beyond Basic Needs to help get past the stigma of asking for help from your network. Everyone wants to help; we just need to give them a simple way to be able to contribute.
FTW: What was your biggest hurdle to get you to this point? How did you overcome it?
Rachel: Believe it or not, our biggest hurdle was our biggest opportunity. I wanted to create a technology that would allow for the project management of transportation, meal trains, other support areas and give access to donations. At the time, that didn’t exist. My husband is a brilliant technologist who started building this platform from scratch to meet my requirements. As you can imagine, I wanted the sun and the moon, but it was just my husband doing the development work on a shoestring budget. We knew we needed to get investors to donate a large sum of money to afford the work that we needed. At the time, we took the hard step and paused development to wait for the nonprofit paperwork to be approved by the state. The week we were approved by the state, I did a quick Google search and found Give InKind site. Their team successfully built the platform of my dreams. Rather than us having to raise a fortune to put into development, we chose to partner with Give InKind so all the money we raise can be used to help people and makes it as easy as 1, 2, 3.
FTW: Tell us a little more about your business.
Rachel: In today’s world, our support community is widespread across the globe. After a medical event, the global support community is challenged with trying to assist the individual from afar with securing basic needs.
We connect you to technology that makes it easy to manage and get help for basic services including food delivery, cleaning services, transportation services and other basic needs at no charge to the individual. Our volunteer network spreads awareness and helps those in need utilize available technology to organize support. We believe these services are imperative to improving the quality of life.
FTW: What has been your key to marketing your business authentically?
Rachel: I run a marketing agency called Rockstarr & Moon where the only rule I have is to be authentic. Writing the stories about my cancer experience was hard, but it is something that if written thoughtfully, can help others overcome their struggle. I’ve been quite open to my network with my diagnosis and subsequent medical issues, that my support network has rallied around me and given me the platform to feel comfortable talking about my experience. As the nonprofit exists only to serve, I’m not raising money for something I don’t care immensely about. We aren’t a cancer charity. We are a nonprofit built to support our community during and after medical events – whether it’s the excitement of the birth of a baby or an emergency, an accident, or a crisis.
FTW: Share some words of advice from your experience for others be it through your cancer journey or even getting started on Beyond Basic Needs.
Rachel: My biggest takeaway from my experience with cancer is that the minute we hear the word cancer from a doctor, our lives change. How we use that change is up to us. There is never a moment of despair because hardships are opportunities.
FTW: What are your long-term plans with Beyond Basic Needs.
Rachel: Long-term, we want Beyond Basic Needs to continue to grow and help support people during and after medical events. We are open to the direction of how we shift, change and grow as long as we stay true to the mission.
We recently added a service of providing free port pillow kits to cancer warriors going through chemo. One of my dearest friends has been on the cancer journey and realized there was a huge need in the community for these kits. She started making them on her own and changing the lives of those around her. We partnered with her to help raise funds, awareness and help boost the amazing work she is doing. It’s initiatives like this that make my heart happy as they have a lasting impact on someone who is going through a tough journey. If you or a loved one are one of the many warriors battling cancer today and you would like to have a port pillow kit sent, please click here. If you would like to support cancer warriors undergoing chemo and support their cancer journey, we would love your donation. Each donation of just $25 buys a kit that contains a pillow, compression socks, lip balm, and a variety of goodies that provide these warriors undergoing chemo some comfort in their fight.
The way that Ruchi and I met and is the reason we are on this lovely blog. Ruchi filled out a request for a free pillow kit for her hubby who is on active chemo for stage 3 colon cancer. And after connecting we realized her husband Vivek and I actually worked together at Ticketmaster. Now, how small a world do we live in!!!
FTW: Now, tell us a little more about you as I know you are rather adventurous.
Rachel: Let’s start with a list to change up the format a little:
- Marketing whiz
- Cancer warrior
- Proud dog mom of Big
- Living the life I desire: by the beach with palm trees in my backyard
- Always up for happy hour on the deck
- Ran with the bulls in Spain on a milestone birthday
- Been married 6 times – to the same guy!
- Just wants to change the world.
FTW: What was it that kept you going and in the right mindset through your cancer journey?
Rachel: At the start, I used the only coping strategy I could muster and started to find humor in everything. The day I was diagnosed, I had quit my job less than 24 hours before and accepted a new position. It was late in the day, my phone was dying, the doctors were hours late seeing me and I really wasn’t in the mood for anything but a glass of wine on the couch with my dogs. When the doctor made the announcement that I had cancer, I laughed and told them I was on Candid Camera and this quite frankly was not funny. You can read the full story on our site – Beyond the Blog.
Once I understood the ramifications, I created the bookends (the before and after surgery plus treatment) I needed to secure a fun, normal life. We bought tickets to both Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits Festival(ACL). Knowing that my surgery would be right after Lollapalooza and I should be recovered by ACL, we thought this was the perfect way to see some of my favorite bands, dance to music all night long, be normal, act silly and feel like a regular person again.
The most incredible part of this journey was meeting the team from Love Hope Strength at Lollapalooza. My husband and I were walking around the festival and saw an offshoot of vendors that wasn’t horribly crowded. We walked over and saw the perfect black leather wrist cuffs with the words Love Hope Strength embossed. It resonated so deeply with me at that moment. When we looked up to find out what they did, we met Rob Rushing. At the time, Love Hope Strength was a charity whose mission was to save lives, one concert at a time. Rob and I talked for a long time about the charity and my story. He gave me two cuffs and made me promise to go see him again at ACL. A few months later, I reunited with Rob at ACL and got one of the biggest hugs I could ever imagine.
We all want to be supported. You just need to be open to receiving all forms of support along your journey.
FTW: What is your favorite/last book you read or are reading?
Rachel: I am reading Just F*#king Do It by Noor Hibbert. I was inspired by Noor’s brutally honest personality and was excited to pick up the book. It’s inspiring and insightful while being witty and fun. I think we all want to change our lives for the better. Noor provides the non-bs roadmap to getting to a life we want.
FTW: So share with us one of your favorite quotes.
I AM I CAN I WILL I DO
There are some days where I wake up unmotivated and not ready to take on the world. I hop on the bike and start a Christine ride. The first time she repeated this phrase in class was during a huge climb. I thought I was going to die. She had us “try it on.” This mantra is like a superpower that helps you feel that there is nothing you can’t achieve at that moment.
FTW: If you had to write an autobiography or memoir- what would it be titled?
Rachel: A beautiful disaster. (I named it this 20+ years before the Kelly Clarkson song came out) When I was a kid, I loved soap operas. I often likened my life to the whirlwind of a tornado hitting a hurricane and that’s where a beautiful disaster was born. Sometimes you are standing there in the eye of the hurricane with the world rushing around you. Other times, you are part of the storm and acting as a force of nature. Both are equally beautiful and destructive at the same time.