Alison Williams is a local business owner and co-founder of Operation Green Zone, a nonprofit supporting veterans with PTSD.
Can you please briefly tell us about your background?
I am a mom of four beautiful children, Taylor (12), Travis (8), Cynthia (6) and Donovan (3). I am a wife of a veteran who served 15 years with the Army as an MP. I have had a couple businesses, but now I own InstaGLAM Mirror Photo Booth. We started a nonprofit (Operation Green Zone) a couple years ago to help veterans with PTSD and are currently setting ourselves up to do equine therapy on our own property to get the nonprofit off the ground.
What is InstaGLAM Mirror Photo Booth? What inspired you to start the business?
InstaGLAM Mirror Photo Booth is a premium open-air photo booth that is a big mirror (to see what you look like during pictures) that is interactive. I started the business back in 2016 to not only provide for my family after Matthew destroyed my other business but to give a portion of the proceeds to grow our nonprofit. Our garage was flooded, which is where I stored all my inventory, and it was the only place our house was flooded.
How does the business support the nonprofit?
We give a portion of our profits to our nonprofit, so we can try to get it started. We found it hard to raise money for our nonprofit because no one wants to give money until they see what we can do. I completely understand this, so we decided to give a portion of our photo booth profits to the nonprofit.
Why is helping veterans so important to you?
My husband is a veteran and was honorably discharged after 15 years of service when he got back from Afghanistan. I could see the changes in him while he was over there, and it was very hard to cope with. Luckily, my husband’s friend was married, and we could bond and talk to each other about the hardships of being married to a veteran with PTSD. When I met another woman that was married to a veteran with PTSD, I realized not everyone was as lucky to know someone who understands the daily struggle. That is why I wanted to help not only veterans with PTSD but also the spouses. That is why I got certified in equine therapy and enrolled in school to be a mental health therapist.
What do you enjoy most about living in Ponte Vedra?
I grew up in Washington, D.C., but since my cousins lived in Jacksonville Beach, we used to come visit and stay at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. I fell in love with the area and got married here. We love the small community feel of Ponte Vedra where our kids can go out and play. Ever since I was little, it just feels like home to me.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Free time? What is that? If I am not on my computer working, I am at our barn cleaning, playing with the horses, feeding them or working. I am getting ready to open up another business for equine therapy in February/March at our property on Roscoe. I am opening it up to the public even though I got certified for the veterans and their spouses. I will also give some of the proceeds to our nonprofit until the nonprofit can sustain itself. I love working with the photo booth, especially at the events. People love the photo booth because it’s so different than any other photo booth out there. We love to see everyone’s faces. I am certainly excited, however, to help people via equine therapy. In our certification, we had to be the client first. It was and still remains to be a huge eye opener and motivator for me.
For a video portion of this interview, visit pontevedrarecorder.com and click One of Us.