Tag Archives: Driving

And The Winner Is . . .

30 Nov

Today I have the privilege of announcing the person you voted for to win my $1,000 donation.  First, a bit of an explanation as to why this has taken so long.

I had planned to have this project completed in September just after I joined the ship I work on.  Well, when you consider that I was driving 2100 miles, meeting people going through rough times and writing their stories well, that turns out to be pretty time-consuming.  And then I joined the ship.  I still had some follow-up interviews as well as some stories to write when I boarded.  This meant ship to shore phone calls and writing while working an 80 hour per week job.  Add to that, satellite internet on the ship, filming for the Phoenix NBC station (see video here) and technical difficulties on the website during the voting process and I’m very happy to be able to actually announce a winner.

The winner, with 22.9% of the vote, was Jose.  But just as in life, this project is unpredictable.  You see, another reason for the delay in announcing is that Jose is homeless.  If you recall, he was living in a shelter when I met him at a job fair.  I contacted the shelter and they informed me that he was no longer living there and had gotten a job.  They gave me the name of the café he was working at and I called to see if he was in.  They informed me that he had quit the previous week and they had no idea where he was.  I tried contacting him on a cell phone number that I had for him and left multiple messages on the voicemail.  I do not know why he quit and it’s not up to me to judge.  Still, I have found it impossible to get in touch with him.  This left me with a dilemma.  What to do with the money.

I have chosen to go with the spirit of the original plan – to let the readers decide.  As the 2nd and 3rd place winners were separated by one vote, I decided to split the money between them.  They are Stella and Shanika.

Stella, if you recall, was the hurricane Katrina survivor who, after living in a church for two weeks, invited 30 family members to live in her house which she felt blessed to find still standing.  When I phoned Stella to let her know of the outcome of the Rebel Project, she was grateful.  Unfortunately, the good news was tempered with the bad news that Stella has recently been diagnosed with cancer.  Stella has provided so much strength to others that I have no doubt that she will be in many people’s prayers.

Shanika and her four children were living at a shelter run by the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.  When I contacted the shelter Shanika was still there.  But, true to form, she was working to become independent.  Shanika has obtained a job cleaning houses.  While she hopes for a job which better suits her experience, she is grateful for the work.  Besides some money, the job has provided something more.  A home.  You see, The Coalition for the Homeless runs a program called Housing Now.  The Housing Now program provides assistance to those with moderate barriers to independence.  Participants must be drug free and have a job. It provides rental assistance, case management and supportive services.

When told of the financial donation I was providing Shanika told me, “This could not have come at a better time.”  Her case manager will work with her on budgeting and the best way to use this money.  Shanika continues to do her best to be a good example for her children.  “Manners and respect carry you far,” she says of her philosophy on raising her kids.

This project was very personal and I thank you for sharing it with me.  I am not only grateful for the opportunity and resources to have taken on this project, but for all of your support.  In the spirit of the Rebel-With-A-Cause project, I will ask you to do one more thing – help because you can.

Advertisements

Voting Is Open

2 Oct

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  It’s not only been a geographical one across the country, but a spiritual one across economic gaps.

We’ve now come to the end – or perhaps this is just the beginning.  One goal of this project was to use my talent to help others.  We all have some talent.  I ask that you look inside yourself and figure out where your talents lie.  Is there a way to use that talent to make a positive change in this world?  We can all contribute, and it does not need to be cash.

Perhaps it’s time we stopped keeping score.  We can do good without thinking about what that person has done for us in the past or how they might help us in the future.  We can do good simply because we can. What I have discovered through this project is that when you begin to good simply for goodness sake, you are rewarded in ways you cannot imagine.  People share their story, which is the ultimate form of trust, and friends send endless supplies of kind words.  Finally, strangers find you and share similar goals.  You are also able to see the kindnesses that people begin to share with others through your inspiration.  There is no greater gift.

You’ve heard their stories, formed your opinion and now it’s time for you to vote Just click “Vote” at the bottom.  DIY Travel Deal has been kind enough to supply the poll and results.  You may vote for more than one person if you choose.  Just click again. Each must be done separately.  Voting closes at 11:59pm Eastern Time on October 15th.

Please remember that this vote is simply for whom I give $1,000 to.  If someone’s story has touched you and there is anyway you can help, please do so.  This does not mean contribute money to them; perhaps you can help them with a job, or a doctor or fulfill some other need.  Or perhaps it involves none of these people at all. Perhaps this has encouraged you to help someone else in need.

Please choose to vote.  And share the stories you have read.  Should you like to get in touch with any of those profiled you may feel free to E-mail me at crosen7646@yahoo.com.  Thank you for sharing this journey.  Please continue to share the goodness.

VOTE                                    

Trusha – MBA and Unemployed

23 Aug

I met Trusha at a job fair in Austin, Texas.  She is 36 years old. She’s a wife and   mother and has been unemployed for nine months.  She worked as a School Psychologist.  During this time, she felt that the expectation was to push children through the system instead of working with them to truly help with their issues for the long-term.  She says it, “became about quantity, not quality.”  After four years she chose to leave.

She then became the Owner/Operator of a Huntington Learning Center franchise, a private educational center which helps kids overcome challenges to become better students.  After five years running the center she received an offer to purchase it.  As she was pregnant with her second child, the timing seemed right and she took it as a sign and sold the business.

With two kids and having left her job, Trusha decided to re-examine her goals.  While she enjoyed being a mother and spending time with her children, she still had career and financial objectives.  She decided that she truly enjoyed the business aspect of owning the learning center and went back to school.  She graduated from Baylor University last year with an MBA.

Line outside Austin job fair

She has performed contract work in asset management for hotels but, as the economy slowed down, so did that business.  So now she attends networking events and job fairs.  She sees the crowds.  “It’s definitely a competition,” she says. She has submitted hundreds of resumes and has often been told she is over-qualified.  She’s willing to take a lesser position in order to form a relationship with a company.  Trusha says she is, “not looking for just a job, it’s a career.”  She also stops by companies that she is interested in working for to drop off letters of introduction requesting informational interviews.  As she says, “you never know if they have a position they haven’t advertised for or one may come up tomorrow.  I treat looking for a job as a full-time job.”

Trusha would like to work for someone else for a change.  “I don’t want to go back to owning my own business.  There’s too much stress.”  She wouldn’t mind using her MBA to become a Financial Advisor.

Trusha knows that her job is not everything.  She keeps her spirits up by concentrating on other aspects of her life such as her husband and children.

A footnote to this story – Trusha did not want her photo taken for this article.  You see, Trusha’s cultural background is one where many women don’t have advanced degrees.  Once married with children they are expected to stay at home.  She is concerned that other women of her culture will see her and, knowing she is currently unemployed, choose not to further their education.

Mike – Confidence and Faith

22 Aug

Church where I met Mike

I met Mike at a church in Mesilla, New Mexico.  He lives just down the road in Las Cruces.  In the 1980’s Mike and his father opened an air conditioning and heating company.  They spent 28 years growing the business which eventually employed 60 people. The company’s main business involved new residential properties and Mike was working 6 days a week.  He didn’t mind as he loved his work and took pride in the company’s success.  Mike’s wife worked for a mortgage company leading others through the mortgage process in order to buy their home.  They had worked hard and proudly built their own dream home.

Then the housing bubble burst.  “Nobody could qualify for a mortgage,” he says.  Suddenly the orders for new air conditioning units slowed.  Mike had to start laying people off.  Finally Mike had to close down the business that he and his father had worked so hard to build.  His wife was laid-off from her mortgage company job.  Within a year and a half Mike and his wife lost their home.  Then, after knowing each other for eight years, and being married for two, the stress was too much.  Mike and his wife separated three years ago.

Mike’s wife has since worked various jobs trying to survive.  She has worked for a bank and an advertising agency doing radio station promotions.  Both paid less than she used to make, and both soon ended.  When applying for positions she was often told she was over-qualified.  She was recently working for a state agency which builds low-income housing.  Last Friday she was laid-off from that.  She is currently living with an adult son from a previous marriage.  They help each other hang on, as he was laid-off from his job over three months ago.

Mike does his best to help out financially.  He has found a job installing air conditioning units for commercial institutions such as prisons and schools.  If only it were closer to home.  Mike now spends four days a week living out of a hotel room 200 miles away.  He’s grateful for the job but finds it difficult on his relationships with his adult children.  He says his kids are happy that he now has a job, but they’re not as close as they once were because he’s just not there.  Still he says, “If this is what we have to do to keep our economy going, then that’s what we do.”

Mike is used to overcoming the odds.  He is a recovering alcoholic who has been clean for 11 years.  “I have confidence and faith,” he says.  “The mental state cannot be shocked anymore.”

Mike is working hard to catch up on outstanding debts including state and federal taxes.  He is trying to help out his wife, and hoping to find a job closer to home.  “It’s been difficult,” he says, “but it’s built more character.”

Jose – Learning from the past

18 Aug

Today we begin.  The drive actually starts on Saturday but, as the starting point is Phoenix, that is where our stories begin.  Please check out the “About” section to understand how this works and when you can vote.

Jose

Jose

Jose was born in San Antonio Texas.  When he was six years old he, his mother and two sisters moved to Seguin, Texas to escape a father who was abusive to his mother.  At that point, as Jose puts it, “I was the man of the house.  I had to take care of Mama.”  He was ten when he saw his father rolling a joint and that is when Jose started smoking pot.  It is also when he joined a gang.  As part of the initiation he got a tattoo.  To make matters worse, the tattoo was on his face.

When he was seventeen Jose was involved in crimes with his gang.  They involved drugs and burglary and, when he was eighteen, he went to prison for fourteen years.

Jose is now 59 years old.  When he looks back on the mistakes he made he knows that he cannot change the past.  He is however, trying hard to change his future, as well as the future of others. As he puts it, “I was always right, I was never wrong.  Everything was for me.”  Now, with maturity and hindsight, Jose speaks from experience.  “I want to be a role model for the kids.  To tell kids, don’t do something wrong because they will regret it.  I took the wrong turn.”

Jose moved from Texas to Arizona in December of 2010 to make a new start.  He had an uncle in Phoenix that he wanted to be closer with and says that he felt his heart was always in Arizona.  When he arrived there, he knocked on the door of his uncle’s house and a stranger answered.  They informed him that they now owned the house as his uncle had died.  Still, Jose plans to stay as he believes this is where he was meant to be.

I met Jose at a job fair.  He was seeking a position as a busboy, dishwasher or something similar.  As he has no car he took the bus by using passes given to him by his case manager at St. Vincent de Paul.  You see, Jose lives in a transitional housing shelter through the non-profit agency.  He volunteers twice per week in the kitchen.

Jose has submitted over 40 applications yet has heard nothing.  He obviously has challenges to overcome.  The face tattoos are obvious, and his felony conviction is a big hurdle.  And then there’s his age. While we’d like to believe life experience is valuable, many of today’s older unemployed are finding that’s just not the case.  “I love working and I feel uncomfortable not working,” he says.  “I want to be somebody.”

His case manager says she wishes she could go with him to apply and interview for jobs to tell potential employers that he will be the hardest working employee they’ve had.  She has even gone as far as to ask her friend, a make-up artist, to teach Jose how to apply make-up to cover his tattoos.

While Jose would like to find a doctor who can remove his tattoos, his immediate concern is finding work.  “I’m hungry for a job.  I can’t give up until I find one.”

As Maya Angelou said, “You did then what you knew how to do. And when you knew better, you did better.”  Jose knows better and is waiting for someone to give him a chance to do better.

%d bloggers like this: