This is Melissa Schwartz, travel blogger, family historian, and local community advocate here in the Chicagoland area. I met her a few years ago through another woman of substance- Carol Foster, and started following her blog “A Little Time And A Keyboard”. I’ve always enjoyed reading about the new places Melissa has explored and the people she’s met. When she agreed to let me include her in this series, I was really looking forward to hearing about her background, history and motivations regarding the blog- which has now gone for more than nine years. However, when the interview began, I quickly realized that the focus wasn’t on herself. Instead, it was the places, events, people and businesses Melissa loves that she really wanted me to know about. Clearly, her focus was on the “treasures in the suburbs” (her term) that she’s found in her travels. I quickly realized that Melissa was all-too-correct when she compared herself to a quilt- she IS a beautiful collection of stories and experiences.
Eventually, I did find out more about this kind, warm-hearted and altruistic person. Melissa’s adventurous spirit is a result of the many road trips she took with her parents as a child, as well the urging of her Grandfather to make the most of life by traveling and experiencing it. Melissa’s love for family is apparent in the many stories I hear about her Grandparents, uncles, husband and daughter, all of whom support her efforts to focus on what’s most important. In fact, her husband travels with her, takes the pictures, and helps her observe their surroundings with keen eyes. So, even when Melissa travels internationally (Iceland is her all-time favorite place), she makes sure to bring back pictures and stories to share with her adventurous extended family.
The “A Little Time And A Keyboard” blog began in 2003, when Melissa moved to Arlington Heights with her family. She watched as so many small businesses would open, struggle to compete in the market- then eventually close. Impassioned about these local gems, Melissa began blogging about the businesses, events and outings she’s seen and/or experienced. She also began to work with several of the businesses, using her vast knowledge of social media outreach to help train the shopkeepers to gain an online presence, and eventually, new customers. In her words, “Whatever they need, I’ll be there to help.” Her ultimate goal is to make traveling (particularly locally) and small business approachable for everyone. As Melissa likes to say “Travel is experiencing things with new eyes. That’s what travel is- an experience.” Melissa’s blog will continue with her passion for community infused with every new post, and I am grateful to have a presence like her in our midst. Melissa exemplifies what a single person can do to make a difference in our communities, and is clearly a Woman of Substance that we should all know.