Tori Willis: Inspired to change lives

Carolena Johnson (left) and Grayson Hodge shop for snacks. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Some people need to ask for ideas, but Tori Willis, owner of Be Inspired, overflows with excitement and creativity.

This grandmother has lived in the area for more than 40 years, working as a loan manager, closing agent and mortgage broker. Three years ago, she started a business called This, That and the Other on Highway 71 South, which quickly became so successful that she outgrew her location. Plus, Willis wasn’t interested in just offering a few services.

On May 30, Willis opened Be Inspired at 2976 Penn Avenue in Marianna. Willis says she chose the location to help revitalize the West End Corridor and she “felt like there was room to grow in a secure location.”

Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the summer, Willis is offering kids’ summer camp programs with titles such as “Art Attack,” “Off the Beaten Path,” “Junior Crime Scene Investigators,” “From Page to Stage,” “Get the Scoop,” “Dragon Hunters” and “Mad about Science.”

Pre-registration is required the Friday before the weekly theme begins. Children ages 5 to 13 are invited to attend. During the first week of camp, there were 35 children in attendance. The camps are designed to teach character skills, patriotism and life skills, woven in with academics.

On evenings and weekends the facility is available for birthday parties, holiday parties, weddings, bridal and baby showers, family reunions, office parties, paint parties and similar events. Willis invites the opportunity to plan an event upon request. In her spare time, Willis also offers special interest classes related to crafts, menu planning and couponing, and she is eager to assist with fundraisers.

Tori Willis: Inspired to change lives

From left, Madson Hall, Gunnar Sims and Amelia Grigsby hold a guinea pig. SUBMITTED PHOTO

During the school year, Willis will offer home school students arts and crafts classes, and an after school club will be available with tutoring for ages 4-17, 3-5:30 p.m. She has already arranged for bus transportation from Jackson County public schools.

In mid-July, Willis will be opening The Market Place, where indoor consignment opportunities will be available for local crafters and vendors.

“My main goal is community development and working with youth at risk when parents’ choices have affected their children’s lifestyle,” Willis said. She wants to inspire, give hope and work with entrepreneurial programs.

The theme at Be Inspired is “supporting children mentally through mentoring and guiding” — and Willis is up to the task. In the future, she plans to expand with more programs and services, and partner with other businesses, especially organizations that deal with issues like autism.

Shop locally, support Marianna businesses and visit Be Inspired, a great addition to Marianna. To learn more, call 850-526-2611. Visit the City of Marianna’s website, www.mariannafl.city/335/New-Businesses-and-Other-Community-News, to learn more about new businesses.

Kay Dennis, MBA, MPA, A.I.C.P., is the director of Municipal Development for the City of Marianna.

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