One on One with Melanie Falack

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Ellen Geller Kamaras 

 

“I always wanted to help people and find my place in the societal puzzle. I found my groove when I started Honeybee Referral Agency. It began with helping women recover from childbirth and enabling them to return to work and feel at ease. I didn’t realize I would be making matches between family units and their caregiver, like a shadchan.” ~~ Melanie ~~ 

 

 

 

Please meet Melanie Falack, founder of Honeybee Nurse Agency. Melanie mindfully matches community members with baby nurses, nannies, and elderly care aides. 

  

I am honored to share her life story with you. 

  

School Days 

Melanie was born in Brooklyn to Raphael Srour and Pnina Friedman Srour. She is the youngest of three daughters. 

  

Melanie’s paternal grandparents are of Syrian/Lebanese decent and her mother’s family roots are Hungarian Ashkenazi.  Her maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors.  

  

Raised in the Flatbush Sephardic community, Melanie attended Magen David Yeshivah. She loved school, valued her friendships, was very social, and attained honors in high school. 

  

“I was friendly with everyone and was always a doer. I worked part-time when I wasn’t in class. I was always looking to expand my horizons.”  

  

 

Role Models 

 

Her mother, Pnina, was Melanie’s inspiration, emphasizing and demonstrating throughout Melanie’s childhood the importance of education for women.  At sixteen, Pnina moved to the U.S. from Israel. Melanie admires her mother’s bravery and relentless efforts to continue her education in a foreign language.  Melanie’s parents met when Pnina worked at her father’s jewelry store. 

  

When Melanie was five, her mother went back to school, while continuing to be a wonderful mom.  Pnina earned two master’s degrees and has been an art teacher in the public school system for 25 years. 

  

“If my mom couldn’t get a babysitter on our days off, she took me to her classes. I remember sitting at the back of her classroom, coloring while Mom taught, or sitting quietly next to my mother while she attended lectures. I recall waking up one night only to find my mother painting in the kitchen for an upcoming deadline. Nothing could get in her way.”  

  

The exposure to the value of education for women and how to successfully achieve work-life balance were the building blocks of Melanie’s business.  

 

Rabbi Richard Altabe, Melanie’s high school principal, was also instrumental in shaping the educated and insightful woman Melanie would become.  He foresaw the need for the next generation of our community to bridge the gap between high school and college. He encouraged his students to make good use of the “gap year” between high school and college. 

  

During her junior year at MDY, Melanie joined an Israeli advocacy program at Columbia University with other high school students from the tri-state area. This program ended with a trip to Israel that was “life changing” and motivated Melanie to spend her gap year studying in a seminary in Israel. 

  

 

Early Passions 

 

Melanie always had a burning desire to help people.  During high school, she volunteered in the pediatric unit at Maimonides Hospital.   

  

Melanie adored her science classes and was fascinated by the human body.  Her first dream was to become a nurse in a hospital. She was inspired by the NICU nurses who took care of her now 14-year-old niece who was born prematurely.  In college, Melanie initially pursued nursing but switched to occupational therapy, realizing it would be a better fit in the future for a working mother.   

  

Her Essence 

 

Melanie describes herself as friendly, social, mature, and insightful at a young age.  She was a worldly child, always in the presence of older individuals.  Melanie was younger than her sisters by nine and six years, respectively, and was often spoken to as an adult. 

  

I would add that Melanie is warm, authentic, poised, self-aware, and open-minded.  She has a knack for making others feel at ease. 

 

A Match Is Made 

 

Towards the end of college, Melanie met her husband, Ray Falack, at a mutual friend’s engagement party. She accidentally spilled a glass of water on Ray and he graciously wiped the water off his shirt with a napkin and smiled. Eight months later they were married.   

  

Melanie and Ray lived in Brooklyn for the first six years of their marriage and after the initial Covid shutdown, they moved with their kids to Deal, NJ, and never looked back. The more relaxed Deal lifestyle enables Melanie to separate her time as a wife, mother, and business owner.  

 

Marriage and Career 

 

One of Melanie’s jobs while studying at Brooklyn College was as an administrative assistant at a wig salon in Brooklyn.  “My friend asked me to cover for her and the wig salon offered me a permanent job. I later got engaged to Ray and it was as if Hashem placed me there Himself to get fitted for a wig.”  

  

OT school felt out of reach physically and financially after starting a family and Melanie put school on the back burner.  She took various part-time jobs (including a position at Sephardic Bikur Holim Career Services) while she raised her young children.   

 

Honeybee Agency Is Born 

 

“It took me seven years to find my sweet spot. My business literally fell into my lap when my son’s former baby nurse coaxed me into helping her connect available baby nurses with Jewish families. I didn’t think I was the right person. However, the moment I had an opportunity (with Hashem’s help) to make my first match, I felt a drive in me awaken and it all felt so natural! I felt fulfilled and purposeful. They say when a baby boy is born, he comes into the world already holding his ‘bread,’ sustenance, in his hands.  My baby brought Honeybee Nurse Agency into fruition. My baby and baby nurse were sent by Hashem to help me find my mission.” 

  

Drawing upon her own experiences as a mom and being in a stressful state, in need of hired help, Melanie’s goal is to help other women in similar situations. She understands the feelings of vulnerability, and the fear of the unknown for a woman who has just given birth or a woman who is forced to hire a stranger to help care for her children. 

 

Melanie’s baby nurse referral agency eventually expanded to include nannies and eldercare workers.   

 

Honeybee Nurse Agency works hand-in-hand with various organizations like SBH to assist community women suffering with postpartum depression or those who have experienced a traumatic childbirth. They also work with the organization Cradle, which provides baby nurses (and much more) for women whose mothers have passed away.  

 

Providing the Personal Touch 

 

“The first two years were challenging and very stressful. I had to figure it out as I went along.   

Despite our growth, I continue to offer a personalized experience and refuse to give into the ‘factory’-like level of service.” 

 

Melanie and her team are committed to assigning their clients the best fit for their situation and needs. And that entails speaking to each client and potential nurse or elderly care aide individually to get the right “feel.” 

 

“When I get calls from new mothers who aren’t happy with their current nurse and who want to try a new one from my agency, I ask them to explain to what is bothering them about their current nurse. Sometimes, I encourage them to stay with the current nurse and provide them with tools on how to navigate their obstacle even if I lose that potential client. I view each client as if they are my own sister.” 

 

Melanie has developed a strong screening process for her experienced nurses.  She has a good read on people that helps her match available nurses to specific families.  Melanie even developed a training course for new nurses, whose fees are more modest than the more experienced nurses. This allows Melanie to provide a more affordable option for those looking to save money. 

 

Community 

Melanie is passionate about her community and is involved in her children’s yeshiva PTA.   

  

Melanie was thrilled with the quality of life and slower pace of the Jersey Shore after living in  Brooklyn.   

 

“On snowy Shabbats, we pile on our ski gear on top of our Shabbat clothes and walk to shul with our kids through the winter wonderland.” 

 

Balance 

“Being a wife, mom, and running a business can be so hard. The key is to set boundaries for the hours of the day allotted for working and those hours that are devoted to family.”  

  

Melanie’s husband Ray is very supportive of the agency she founded. He encouraged her to start her own business and is especially proud that she is a self-made entrepreneur. 

  

Achievements and Ambitions 

 

Melanie finds something she loves and runs with it. She works best when she has a deadline. 

 

Her secret to success is her personal touch with clients.  “I want them to talk to me and tell me what’s important to them. Mothers need to feel heard.” 

  

One of her aspirations is to be a Hatzalah volunteer and to train to be a doula, perhaps when her children are older.   

  

Unwinding 

Melanie enjoys reading fiction and parenting books. Her favorite recreational activities are  

writing, painting, and doing art with her children.  Her mother joins in, passing on to the grandchildren her artistic spark and creative drive.  

 

Connect with Melanie on Instagram @honeybee_nurse_agency, email her at Hb.nurses@gmail.com or call 646-431-0428. 

  

  

 

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching.  Ellen is active in her community and is currently the Vice-President of Congregation Bnai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights.  She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com(www.lifecoachellen.com).