By Renee Foose, Special to the AFRO
Gwen Woody is a Baltimore native and Texas-based entrepreneur who is paving the way for the community to learn about diabetes. Woody has established three businesses in the Baltimore area designed to help impacted communities learn about food choices that support wellness. “Many communities in Baltimore are food desserts” Woody said. “Some of the poorest communities only have access to corner stores and dollar stores with no opportunity to shop for healthy varieties of food found in regular grocery stores” she said. One business model she uses to raise awareness is what she calls “Food Reiki” where she partners with local grocery chains to deliver food to impacted communities that lack the transportation to travel to grocery stores.
Woody is a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and she provides coaching to other LPN’s to help them find employment opportunities beyond the typical venues that hire LPN’s.
“Many nurses do not want to go to college or can’t afford to go to school to become a registered nurse,” she said. “There are plenty of spaces where a LPN can be of great value, and not just in the jails and other places where registered nurses don’t want to work,” Woody said. She recently published a business guide on the topic and is called upon to give speeches and coaching sessions throughout the region.
Woody said she became passionate about diabetes education after watching members of her family suffer from the disease. “It wasn’t just the diabetes that motivated me to find my passion in wellness, it was realizing that so many people do not know how to eat properly and manage the diabetes they’ve been diagnosed with. It was obvious that education and access to the right foods was needed, in addition to skills to advocate for their own health care” she said.