Dear Abby…I want to be like you when I grow up, I want to help people be the best they can be.
Donnyette Love knew from a very young age that her calling in life was to help people. “When I was eight or nine, I loved reading the Dear Abby column. I would then hand out advice to my friends and family,” Love described. Since those pre-teen years, Love has maintained her desire to help others. She’s served as a social worker in the areas of HIV work, geriatrics and school settings, and now serves as the founder and director of Positive Direction Support Services, a behavioral health agency dedicated to helping people and communities reach their full potential.
Help when you need it
Positive Direction came out of the need to provide a quality mental health service to the community. “Following Hurricane Katrina, a number of people from outside the region came to New Orleans and saw the opportunity to set up a behavioral health agency. However, in many instances, they didn’t understand our unique community or have the right resources to provide the level of service we needed,” Love recalled. That’s when Love came to a crossroad. “Either I’m going to allow this, or I’m going to do something different,” Love proclaimed. Today, hundreds of clients are glad Love chose the latter and pursued her dream of opening Positive Direction.
Before officially opening in 2013, Positive Direction needed a line of credit to maintain its state license and CARF accreditation. That’s when Love looked to her community. “I’m all about community and since Hancock Whitney was in my community, I knew which bank I had to go with,” Love explained. Having never applied for a line of credit before, she was thankful for the supportive team at Hancock Whitney to walk her through the process. “Without that line, I would not have been able to continue on with my business.”
For seven years, Love served children age five to young adult in her community helping them manage ADHD, anxiety and depression while growing her business to include a staff of 23 people who embody her same mission of helping others. “The difference with Positive Direction is that it is run by clinical social workers, meaning that the service aspect is really at the heart and soul of the agency,” Love explained.
Then spring of 2020 arrived bringing with it a global pandemic. Knowing the vital services her team provided, Love only had one option – adapt. “Resiliency is key. We use that phrase with our clients all the time. Now it was our time to take our own advice,” she explained. Prior to COVID-19, the Positive Direction team was meeting clients where they were—at home, at school, at church—to ensure clients, who were more like family, received the services they needed to thrive. With social distancing mandates and lockdowns, Love’s team moved to more telehealth style interactions. While still not the most ideal avenue for treatment, especially for her youngest clients, Love and team are making the best of the situation. “We’ve provided resources to our clients’ families, the resources our mental health professionals would usually have with them on visits for their treatment plan, so both the client and staff member can be focusing on the same information.”
Along with the challenge of maintaining quality, uninterrupted service, the other looming issue the coronavirus brought about was ensuring Love’s staff was taken care of financially at the wage level they were pre-pandemic. Enter the Paycheck Protection Program. “We missed the first round of funding, so when the second opened, we knew we had to jump right in. It was so nice to be able to pick-up the phone and call my banker and know I was being taken care of. It was like having a personal guide to walk you through the process,” Love explained. “The reason I was able to get my application in so quickly and keep paying my staff was that I had a one-on-one guide in my banker.”
And the 5-star service is not just specific to the PPP process describes Love. “Whenever I have a question and I call the financial center, there is always someone there to help me. I brag to my friends and other business owners about my experience with Hancock Whitney.”
While like many of us, Love doesn’t know exactly what the next year will hold for her agency, she knows she can depend on Hancock Whitney. “I appreciate when community stands up for community and they don’t fail you and they don’t let you down. And in this case believe me, in a time like this where I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen to my agency, I was happy to know there was someone at Hancock Whitney I could call to help me through it. “