Owner of Community Acupunture of Mt. Airy (CAMA), Elise Rivers is passionate about not only building a successful business, but giving back back to the community where she works and lives.
Nine years ago, Rivers and her husband, Max, moved to Mt. Airy at the suggestion of a friend.
“Mt. Airy is special because of its diversity and acceptance of that diversity,” said Rivers. “It’s physically beautiful — green, and the architecture is unusual. There is community spirit, like a small town in a big city.”
She started her practice on the third floor of a doctor’s house. Her business flourished with mainly a local clientele and a business model that would make some businesses cringe: a sliding scale of $30 to $45 a session.
Five years ago, she began her first restoration project and turned her current location — 6782 Germantown Avenue — into a center for acupuncture. The building had stood vacant for seven years at that point.
CAMA is located in a patch of businesses that are sometimes are overshadowed by high activity further north on the Avenue.
In 2009, she convinced neighbor Able Plumbing Supply to improve their façade through available grants from Mt. Airy USA. She bought containers and planted the flowers for them. Fino’s Pizzeria also improved their façade.
She joined the board of the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District (BID) in 2010. She, along with her husband and a former employee of Fino’s, began the conversion of an empty lot at Carpenter Lane and Germantown Avenue into a rose garden. Flowers were donated by neighbors and BID members. Rivers subsequently won first place in the 2012 Philadelphia Gardens Contest “Best Community Garden Block” category from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
Her attention then shifted to the rest of the Avenue. She led the effort to obtainin flower baskets and street planter containers. By the end of 2012, approximately 100 baskets were installed on pedestrian scale lamps.
Next were the “pocket parks,” capitalizing on green spaces along the Avenue. She donated $4,000 and raised $3,000 for benches in the William Allen public plaza at Lutheran Theological Seminary. Trolley Car Diner, Elfant-Wissahickon Realtor, Domus Construction and the Seminary contributed. Charles Todd of Mt. Airy Custom Furniture handcrafted the benches at cost.
Recently, she offered to match donations up to $2,500 towards the development of Lovett Library Park. CAMA sponsors the Mt. Airy Outdoor Drum Circle once a month there.
“BID members have community spirit, supported my ideas and provided some funding,” Rivers said. ”The environment has a positive effect on people when it is attractive and not depressing. There’s more cleanliness along the Avenue. The embellishments make a huge difference in the sense of community.”