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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Woman with disability named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’





Amie Kupovits of Walled Lake who is wearing a red Avon top and her staff, Tracie Ellis, displays the Avon products she sells in Macomb and Oakland counties. Kupovits just won a statewide award for operating her micro-business. To contact Kupovits for Avon products or information, email amiejoy223@yahoo.com


By JERRY WOLFFE

A lovely smile and success just seem to be part of a recently honored Walled Lake woman.
Amie Kupovits, 55, of Walled Lake, who was born with cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair, was named the “2014 Entrepreneur of the Year” for developing her Avon business to where she has 41 people she has recruited to sell Avon. “Would you like to be No. 42?”
Selling Avon is a “seven-day-a-week job,” said Kupovits. “I go whenever the customers want me.”
In receiving the “Be Our Own Motivation” award, the Michigan Association of Rehabilitation Organizations said Kupovits “is a top-selling Avon Team Leader, and leads 41 representatives in southeastern Michigan.
“Amie has built a reputation in her community as efficient, hard-working and punctual and delivering services in a timely and professional manner, taking every opportunity to promote her business,” said MARO Executive Director David Price.
Kupovits is a familiar fixture at the Clinton Township and Auburn Hills offices of Macomb-Oakland Regional Service where she and her caregiver Tracie (Tra) Ellis display and sell Avon products.
“I started in 2010, quit for a while, and then resumed,” Kupovits says of her micro-business. “I was on the phone with Walled Lake Interim Fire Chief Jim Coomer. “ I was bored to death and didn’t even have gas money. I asked him if he thought I’d be a good Avon lady and he said to me: ‘You can do whatever you want.’”
Supports Coordinator Rebecca Borst of MORC asked Kupovits if she could be the Avon lady for MORC’s staff. Kupovits’ Avon team leader Lydia Kopeka said “Go for it.”
“She would meet me … and teach me how to set up a table,” Kupovits said, noting she will celebrate her second anniversary selling Avon full-time this August. She also is the official “Avon Lady” who sells Avon products at the Purple Door store in Wixom.
“My life now is very happy,” Kupovits said. “I’m very appreciative for my customers and my staff. I have 24-hour care, my own apartment (after living in a six-person group home).”
Her mother, Mary, died in 2007 and sister, Gloriann, in 2006 at age 54 of multiple sclerosis. Kupovits’ father, Charlie, passed away in 1985.
“My dad would be so proud of me because he taught about money, to pay my own bills and deal with people who would bully or make fun of me,” she said. “My mother would be so happy that finally I got a successful business of my own.”
“Too few Michiganders with disabilities are working because too often the system gets in the way,” said Maura D. Corrigan, the state Human Service Director. The goal of disability benefits should be to advance employment and entrepreneurial opportunities and help those with disabilities to enter or return to the workplace.”
“I love my customers and I can’t thank everyone enough for believing in me and for this honor,” Kupovits said as tears flowed down her cheeks. “If those with disabilities had the spirit and motivation they could figure out something they could do to be more self-sufficient and more independent.”
Winners will be recognized at the Opening Keynote & Awards Ceremony luncheon on Nov. 12 at the Amway Hotel in Grand Rapids.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence and advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center.