<b>WORK IN PROGRESS | </b>Herald staff
Maggie Fimia believes every family has a compelling story – they may just need a bit of help telling that story. The Edmonds woman recently started Welcome Home Family History Services out of her Edmonds home after enjoying her own ancestral sleuthing.
Q: How, or why, did you decide to open your business?
A: After almost 30 years of working on my own family, I decided I would like to help others research, preserve and tell their family stories. There is a huge disconnect between the people who have this information and the time to do something with it and their ability to access the tools to do it. Only about 40 percent of senior citizens are on the Web, yet many of the resources for researching and recording family information is Web-based. I see an incredible opportunity for families to work together to get pictures and documents labeled and preserved and then put into a format the whole family can use and enjoy.
Q: What convinced you that this was the job for you?
A: When I kept meeting people, especially older friends and relatives, who had so much information and so many pictures, but had no idea how to start organizing them, or getting them into a format that their family could appreciate.
Q: What does it take to blend your passion with your livelihood?
A: Keeping it simple, not taking on more than I can do well and helping a client focus on priorities. It’s easy to get distracted while doing this work – everyone in the family has an interesting story, great pictures, fascinating historical documents – but if you try to do everything at once, you end up doing a superficial job.
Q: What are the crucial elements for success for your business?
A: Looking at the scope of what could be done with a client, helping the client figure out what is the most important info they want to find or focus on preserving and displaying, and then working with them to get it done in a timely and affordable way. It is critical to meet each client on their terms, to supplement their knowledge base and technical skills with what I can offer. So I start by finding out: What are their skills? How much time do they have to work on projects? What are their priorities?
Q: What has been your biggest challenge and how did you meet it?
A: Moving from doing this work on a voluntary basis for relatives and friends to setting up an actual business. I’ve always worked in the public sector or nonprofit area or as a volunteer.
Q: How did your friends and family react when you told them you were getting into this business?
A: Everyone is very supportive – “What a good idea” is a common response followed by an example of someone in their family who could use a hand with their family history.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Watching a young person go through a box of pictures, letters and memorabilia with their father, mother or grandparent. So much information is exchanged, so much excitement and pride about the family – so many questions raised! “Is this you when you were young?” “Do you know how much this 1988 ticket to the Michael Jackson concert in Cork is worth?!” “How did your mother and father raise eight children in that tiny wood-frame house in the middle of the Montana prairie?”
Q: What personal abilities do you think are needed to excel in this business?
A: Ability to listen and know when to make suggestions and ask questions that help a client determine the course of action they want to take and is important to them.
Q: When you’re not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?
A: My husband and I are movie buffs, I love to cook, go for walks around Edmonds and especially love to travel to visit my girls and other family and friends. And when I’m not working for someone else, you can find me hot on the trail of another long-lost relative or Skyping with a newly found cousin in Australia, comparing notes!
Welcome Home Family History Services