Leading a new conversation in health and well-being
Rachel Thompson has taken an idea and turned it into a profitable company only three years since her graduation with a Bachelor of Science in Health Studies. Formed from merging the names of both her grandmothers – Marilyn and Helena - Marlena Books is a social enterprise that provides meaningful leisure and cognitive stimulation in the form of reading materials to those with Alzheimer's, dementia or other cognitive disorders. In doing so, Rachel has found a way for these individuals to maintain their well-being and their relationships with family members and friends.
Self-described as an “accidental entrepreneur,” Rachel started her company after winning the Big Ideas Challenge hosted by St. Paul’s GreenHouse in 2015. She joined GreenHouse with the determination to help make reading enjoyable and dignified again for individuals with dementia. Her vision of providing more support to adults with cognitive deficits motivated her to apply to the Velocity Garage and she was accepted. Like any social entrepreneur, Rachel faced many obstacles in bringing her vision to life. Despite starting her business with limited resources, she has built an organization that has brought hundreds of books and hands-on programming to multiple long-term care facilities across Ontario in the short span of under three years.