We had the good fortune of connecting with Sharronda Allen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sharronda, is there a life experience you can think of that you feel has had a profound impact on your life or career?
While I have always had a love for working with children I never knew to what capacity. When I was younger I tossed around ideas of being a home daycare provider or teacher. I eventually settled on getting a teaching credential. But there were two major life experiences that lead me down the road to owning my own agency for children with disabilities. The first was the loss of a student that I taught while during my first year as a teacher. He was severely impacted by his disability and was unable to advocate for his basic needs let alone being able to express what quality of life meant for him. His death angered me and drove me to change my degree specialization from mild to moderate special education to severe. My hope was that I can teach individuals with severe special needs skills to care for themselves but more importantly communicate their needs.
Many years later I was blessed to become a mother. Being a mother made me change my view on so many things in life. My experience of being a parent allowed me to have a deeper appreciation of the parents that I have worked with. Being sympathetic for other parents, especially those with children with developmental disabilities was a driving force for opening L.E.T.S. Grow. I want to educate parents using evidence-based treatments while providing the love and care I give my own children. The core family values that my husband and I have are embedded in everything that we do for our clients. Seeing the look from a parent that hears their child say their first words and experience many other life milestones is something very moving and powerful. The life experience of losing a student, someone I cared for and also bringing my daughters in the world are two things that have tremendously shaped the person that I am today.
What should our readers know about your business?
L.E.T.S. Grow is an agency that provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for children with autism and other developmental disabilities. What I absolutely love about us is our family friendly approach. Our clinic is small so all of our families get truly independent and specialized care and attention. We care about what keeps our parents up at night no matter how big or small.
We have seen many highs and lows throughout our eight years servicing the community. ABA is an industry that all sorts of businesses have become interested in. Employee turn-over has become increasingly difficult as big companies open up and offer incentives and employment packages that small businesses like ours cannot compete with. I have learned along the way that the loss of an employee is not always a representation of inadequacies within me as a leader or as a business.
Recently COVID-19 has made the largest impact on our agency. On March 19th we had to furlough all of our employees. Since then we have had to find ways to adapt through Telehealth to keep some sort of revenue and connection with our clients. Words cannot express the deep fear, confusion and levels of stress and uncertainty we have experienced. As a business owner I have always realized the impact my decisions have on my employees and clients, but COVID-19 extremely amplified the weight and severity of such decisions. COVID-19 has caused all business owners to seek what their worth is and how to adapt and change for the months ahead and through the uncertain future. The light in the dark days came when we were approved for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The funds allow us to bring back all of our employees and begin to service our clients under the CDC and OHSA guidelines. Having a positive reputation in the community has helped us maintain clients and ultimately continue to do what we love. Doors were kicked open and we did not give up in the face of adversity.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A trip to Sunny San Diego would not be complete without a trip to the beach. Coronado has a special place in my heart since I got married there. A day of riding bikes, renting a Gondola, kayaking or paddle boarding would not be complete without Village Pizzeria and Moo Town for pizza and ice cream. Hotel Del is an iconic landmark for San Diego and well worth a visit. Other hotels I prefer are El Cordova, Coronado Beach Resort, and La Avenida Inn as they are walking distance to great eateries like The Tavern, Leroy’s, and the Irish pub McP’s.
San Diego has so many wonderful trails to walk, bike or hike. Torrey Pines Reserve is great as it reminds me of San Francisco hikes on the beach with trees around you. I also love and recommend trying food tours through various neighborhoods of San Diego. It is a great way to sample local food and beverages while hearing the history of the area. My favorite is BITE San Diego. Just about every city in San Diego has a mom and pop Mexican food shop to swing by for street tacos and burritos but my favorite is Rosarito’s because the chips and salsa are ridiculously good. The very last thing would be a trip down to Rosarito, Mexico for Puerto Nuevo Lobster or wine tasting.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family are my biggest cheerleaders. I happen to have a mini village to help me be the mother, wife and business owner that I want to be. It is absolutely impossible without them. My parents have taught me that closed doors can be kicked open. A ‘no’ is simply a way to have a person look at other options to achieve what they want. I am also lucky to be married to a man that allows me to seek out my dreams. He lets me be who I am with all my glory (the good, the bad and the ugly). We are definitely not called the A-Team for no reason. I am extremely thankful for my mini village-husband, parents, siblings and mother-in-law.