Updated: Jan 22
How I Invest Back Into My CommunityRKING FROM HOME ALLOWS ME TO GIVE BACK MORE OF MY TIME
HELP ME GIVE BACK: CLICK HERE
FIRST SOME BACKGROUND ON ME
I come from humble beginnings. I am from a broken home and was raised in what I would consider the poverty stricken community of my city. I attended 4 different elementary schools growing up and ultimately found myself living with my grandmother while I finished high school.
I was not social and after elementary school I did not participate in team sports. I found that I had a passion for friends and video games; maybe it was an escape from reality or maybe it was the engaging content that I enjoyed.
Either way, I found myself spending more time alone than I did with kids.
THEN SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENED
In my senior year of high school I began to sell baked goods in school - you know - a little friendly competition for the vending machines. This taught me a valuable lesson:
You can fill the vending machine, you can own the vending machine, or you can supply the owner of the vending machine.
So, I took this new knowledge and I ran with it. I graduated high school NOT near the top of my class. I went to college and dropped out. And along the way I did some cool things; things like:
- Opened a promotional services company at age 19
- Silent partner of a bar at the age of 20
- Opened a graphic design firm at the age of 20
- Revolutionized cell phone printing and sales at age 24
- Opened a firearms training academy at the age of 29
- Combined the design firm with a printing company at age 30
- Sold the printing company at age 33
- Opened a Branding Firm at age 33
- Opened a clothing company at age 33
- Became co-founder of EIA age 34
THEN I DECIDED TO GIVE BACK
At first I didn't know how to give back or when I should give back. Sure, we all see the social media posts about tax write-offs and donations. We all want to pay less taxes and make more money.
Once I became able to help I was not sure where to start.
So, I slowly began looking at options over the years and began to give back small amounts at a time.
With the printing company we gave back to local organizations, businesses, and youth groups. Free banners, discounted shirts, additional political signs for campaigns for local candidates, etc. It was easy to help people - but one thing i learned quickly is that some of these people (or groups) did not really appreciate the benefit that we were giving them.
SO HOW DO I GIVE BACK TO PEOPLE THAT CARE?
When I opened the firearms training academy we began to offer a FREE training class every month to the public. We took donations and that is how we funded the next month's class. We received amazing exposure from local news channels and media outlets. We were teaching people to be safe and how to defend themselves. I was invited as a guest speaker to charitable organizations around the area and we spoke about the dangers of office violence and how to be as prepared as possible for the unexpected.
Sometimes the donations were more than we would make on a class we charged for.
WHAT ABOUT KIDS? HOW DID I GIVE BACK TO THEM?
For 15 years I have been donating my time every Christmas to volunteering at the local county park to put on Santa for the kids. My father is Santa (no, no, not the real one - just a helper). About 9 years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to help fund the santa program for the children. Free cookies, free coco, free pictures, etc. The smiles from the families - priceless.
For about 6 years I have also been hosting the free community fishing youth tournament at our local county park. We typically have 100 kids + parents show up. They fish, we measure the best we can and then we pick some winners in age brackets. It is not fancy but it is outdoors, it is free, and it puts a smile on the faces of children in my community.
Kids are the future. We need to treat them as such.
When we opened the clothing company we made a social mission. That mission was to donate 1 foster care package to a local organization for EVERY shirt we sold. This was amazing and to this day it holds a special place in my heart.
During the pandemic we also gave away thousands of FREE face masks that were NOT branded and did no social media PR about it.
THEN I STARTED THINKING...
If there are so many children in foster care related to the ongoing opioid epidemic that is affecting my region then maybe, just maybe, I need to look at how we can make an impact on the root issue at hand.
So, as I type this today, I have taken on a project called HARP. The HARP HOUSING PROJECT is Housing Appalachia Reentry Program and is a sober living and alternative living housing network designed for those individuals in recovery and for individuals reentering society from incarceration. More information can be found HERE.
This is my largest "GIVE BACK" to date.
WHY THIS PROGRAM?
I sat down with local leaders, law enforcement, social workers, medical staff, and more in order to completely change how recovery works in my region. We developed a new program and builds foundational support for those in recovery who were likely under addiction during the time in their life when they would develop basic life skills. We redesigned the housing program to include "life phases" and encourage participants to engage in not only building careers but also giving back to their communities.
See, you can be the person who stocks the vending machine (training the community to defend themselves). You can be the person who owns the vending machines (supporting the foster care system). Or, you can supply the owners of the vending machines (address the failed war on drug issues plaguing the region).
WANT TO HELP ME?
It would be silly if I typed a blog post about helping the community and did not allow you a way to help.
First, I have created a GoFundMe page (CLICK HERE) for the expansion of our housing network.
Second, I have designed an amazing addiction recovery shirt and printed it on a quality, soft t-shirt. We used BonFire to do the fundraiser (CLICK HERE). Orders will ship on 2/8/2021 and take a few days to get to you.
Have questions about fundraising, designing a fundraiser, or general questions about anything? Leave them in the comments and I will see if I can help you.
Our gofundme campaign will be used specifically for expanding the housing network. We need to be able to lease multiple properties across the region so that the network aspect of the phase system can work. Traditionally, sober living is a one-stop-shop. You move in, stay sober, and move out. With our network we want to allow participants to move though transitional housing; from bunk beds, to private rooms, to their own home. So that they can learn along the way - learn the things they should have pickup during their early adult years.
Donate any amount or none at all. But, take a look at the campaign because it may help you in the future.
This site is interesting. They allow you to sell 1 shirt or 500 shirts in a campaign. You choose the length (we chose 12 days). At the end of the 12 days however many shirts we sold will determine our pricing. BonFire will print AND ship our shirts to our supporters and then pay us when it is all over.
This is an amazing fundraising opportunity and allows you to get better pricing if you think you can sell 100 shirts or more! We have used this technology to help local high schools fundraise in the past.
You do not need to buy a shirt but at least check out the campaign.
At the end of the day, I have tried to give back over the years. I have failed in business and I have for sure learned valuable lessons. That is a whole blog in itself. But, with my failures came some success. With both failure and success came lessons. Giving back is amazing but actually knowing how to give back is even more amazing.
Learn the platforms that are available. Use platforms that complement you idea of giving back. When it is over, saying "I gave back" is amazing but saying "I was able to help" is even better.