Paula Crebbin

They say that if you love your job you never work a day in your life. Paula Crebbin, Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) and Certified Shiatsu Therapist is one of those lucky people. “I can honestly say I absolutely love what I do,” she says. 

Paula, who started losing her vision at age 13, learned about Shiatsu through a directory assistance error. “I was interested in audiology,” she explains. The operator dialed the wrong number, but the mistake was life-changing for Paula: “I didn’t get the Audiology Society, I got the Shiatsu School of Canada!”

Her talent for shiatsu was evident from the get-go, with clients travelling from as far as Michigan, but growing the business was challenging: most insurance companies only accept services performed by an RMT. After paying rent for her office, Paula was only breaking even and still relied on disability benefits for income. She knew taking the RMT course was the only way she’d ever earn a profit but didn’t know where she’d find the money.

After tapping out her credit cards and contacting banks and agencies for financial help, she was eventually referred to ACCESS. “If it hadn’t been for ACCESS I don’t know what I would have done. I would have wasted two years of schooling with no way to pay $1,200.”

Paula was initially nervous about travelling to Toronto and going through the loan process without vision. “They were patient with me,” she says. “They said ‘let’s just try it, if it doesn’t work we’ll figure out another way.’ It took me out of my comfort zone to be honest, but what it gave me was the confidence to be able to move forward.”

Since passing the RMT exams, Paula’s business has boomed. She’s now part of a natural health clinic that gets referrals from a major insurance company, and has had a steady flow of clients ever since. “My first day there they had people booked for me, which I’m not used to,” she adds. “I’m used to doing all this by myself.” 

She credits ACCESS for being the only organization willing to take a chance on her, allowing her to achieve financial independence and work in a career she loves. “I would have never gotten ahead otherwise. No way.” 

Paula’s business has given her independence, but it’s more than just a paycheque for her: “If I win the lottery I’ll still do what I do…but in a nicer place!”