Jimmy Getting Ready to Walk

Jimmy Getting Ready to Walk
Jimmy Wayne on January 1, 2010 at Monroe Harding at the launch of MMH.

Jimmy Wayne Meet Me Halfway: a Journey to Raise Awareness

On January 1, 2010, Jimmy Wayne launched his Meet Me Halfway campaign when he began his solo walk halfway across America in Nashville, TN. He plans to walk to Phoenix, AZ. Jimmy’s intention is not only to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless, especially at risk children, teens and young adults, but also raise funds for organizations that benefit homeless youth.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Preparing for National Foster Care Month

As we near May - National Foster Care Month - it is important that we pull together and continue to spread the word about Jimmy Wayne's walk to raise awareness of the issues faced by youth aging out of foster care. Jimmy is working on an exciting collaboration for May that will raise the awareness of the needs of aging out youth to another level. During National Foster Care month Project Meet Me Halfway supporters will have many opportunities to make an impact.

You can help Project Meet Me Halfway prepare for National Foster Care Month by joining a Street Team and recruiting as many Street Team members as possible . As we enter May, our numbers will be important.The Street Teams are important and vital part of Project Meet Me Halfway. Street Team members are essential in helping Jimmy Wayne raise awareness of the issues faced by youth aging out of foster care – especially teen homelessness.

The Street Team role will be even more important during May. May 1st is the first day of National Foster Care month and Global Love Day. Street Teams will begin May with a National Walk To Raise Awareness for Project Meet Me Halfway. No matter where you are we ask that you go out and walk for Meet Me Halfway on May 1st. Get together with family, friends, or do a solitary walk. Log the distance you walk and take a photo of yourself walking with an inspirational sign stating your name and location. After the walk, upload the photo onto the website to show your support for Jimmy Wayne and Project Meet Me Halfway. We will have a photo gallery that shows all of us walking across the country on May 1. It will be a way for Jimmy Wayne fans across the nation to come out and show their compassion and support for those youth aging out of foster care and those homeless teens.

More information will be provided about the May 1 National Walk Day. If you have questions, thoughts or want to connect with other Meet Me Halfway supporters and walk with them -- contact Kristy or your regional Street Team Coordinator.  Here's the Twitter contact information for the Street Team Leaders (their email address are on the website.)

Kristy Barto, National Coordinator: twitter.com/klbarto
Sarah Walsh, Great Lakes: twitter.com/ProjectMMH_GLC
Sandra White, Southeast: twitter.com/MMHSoutheast
Nicole Osmera, Southern: twitter.com/MMHSouth
Cheryl Gillman, Arizona: twitter.com/CherylGnAZ
Shannon Trevino, Mid-America: twitter.com/JWfanTX
Jamie Phelps, North/Northwest: twitter.com/jamiemarva
Felecia Kiser, Mid-Atlantic: twitter.com/MMH_MidAtlantic
Moe Ferrante, Northeast: twitter.com/Moe_F
Cynthia Sparks, West: twitter.com/MMHWestCoast

Sharon is updating www.projectmmh.org daily. The Home page now highlights breaking news. Check in regularly with the website to stay up to date. Please continue to send us articles, organizations and information to add to the website. Information should be submitted via email. We try to pick up resources from the links shared on Twitter, but we miss many of those -- so please email information for the website.  Sharon and I are available if you have any thoughts, suggestions, or comments regarding www.projectmmh.org.  You can reach us via the website contact page.

As we prepare for May, it is an exciting time. Thank you for all you do for Project Meet Me Halfway. I'll end with a photo from Amarillo. Seeing Jimmy with young people who have just aged out reminds me of why I'm a part of this journey.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meet Me Halfway Street Teams: Ready to Go

How We Got Here: Two weeks ago, Jimmy Wayne tweeted:
Needing MMH street team volunteers & president who can take on BIG responsibilities, facilitating the promotional aspects of project MMH!We need Regions & regionals. Ex:split the US n2 4 regions. Each region will have a regional who is responsible 4 recruitN reps from each state N their region. Each rep is responsible 4 recruiting volunteers in their state.
After receiving Jimmy's tweets that Saturday morning, I asked Jimmy to help me understand exactly what it was he was wanting.  I knew that Street Teams are popular in the music business and that they are used to get interest, energy, and play time for an artist’s music. But, it sounded like Jimmy wanted the Meet Me Halfway Street Teams to take on the Meet Me Halfway mission. So I asked him, “How will this relate to your music?” Jimmy was adamant that the Meet Me Halfway Street Teams would NOT be about his music. He said,
This is about the kids, it’s about raising awareness of the issues faced by those kids aging out of the system. I really want the Street Teams to focus on the kids.
I thought Meet Me Halfway Street Teams were a great idea, but wasn’t sure how we were going to make them happen. I knew Jimmy couldn’t organize while walking halfway across America. So, I called Sharon, who coordinates the projectmmh.org website, and we brainstormed ways that the website could be used to get information and resources in the hands of the Street Teams. We ran the ideas past Jimmy, and he did follow-up tweets explaining the process:
To become a MMH street team member- log onto www.projectmmh.org (later today) - sign up 4 street team.
Each state rep will recruit MMH supporters in their state. The rep with submit their biweekly reports to their Regional. Each report will include info about what they are doing in their region to raise awareness & how many new recruiters they have recruited in their region.
The recruits can be as creative as they want to be. The goal is to raise awareness for MMH.
Jimmy asked if we could get the Street Teams up and running in two weeks. I said yes, but I remember thinking “you want to build a grassroots action group, with leaders, volunteers, and purpose in two weeks--  Are you CRAZY!” To my surprise, people from across the country immediately began stepping forward. And, Friday night, March 26, -- 13 days after Jimmy first tweeted the idea of Street Teams -I was on a conference call with the Street Team Regional Coordinators. Not only do we have Regional Coordinators in place, we have over 100 volunteers from throughout the country placed on Street Teams, and a website with information and resources for Street Team members.

Moving Forward: The conference call with Street Team Regional Coordinators was the first chance for us to meet and talk with one another. A few of us have met, a few of us have communicated via twitter or email, but for the most part, we are a group that is connected by our commitment to Project Meet Me Halfway and Jimmy Wayne. Take a few minutes to read the bios of the Street Team Coordinators. We have Coordinators that have supported Jimmy since before Stay Gone and who, through Jimmy, have discovered the issue of aging out. We have Coordinators that were passionate about the issues faced by youth aging out of foster care and through Meet Me Halfway have discovered Jimmy Wayne and his music.

Jimmy surprised us and joined us on our conference call. After walking twenty miles, he had the interest and energy to spend two hours on the phone with us sharing his vision for Project Meet Me Halfway and his goals and hopes for the Street Teams.

We asked Jimmy about the primary focus of the Street Teams.  Should the primary focus of the Street Teams be raising awareness or raising funds?  Jimmy quickly answered “raising awareness should be the focus of the Street Teams.” He shared that the walk has affirmed his faith that the American people will act if they are aware of an issue. As he said,
Americans will reach out and help once we know there is a problem. Street Teams need to be reaching everyday Americans in our communities and sharing with them the epidemic of homelessness faced by youth aging out of foster care. Once their eyes are opened to the fact that so many of our young people need homes, need families, need connections, I have faith that Americans will step forward and help.
The call gave us an opportunity to pass on to Jimmy some of the questions that we had been getting from Meet Me Halfway volunteers. I thought it would be useful to share what we talked about:

Can we produce Project Meet Me Halfway merchandise? Jimmy did share that since there is official merchandise for Project Meet Me Halfway, it is important that Street Teams not manufacture and sell Project Meet Me Halfway merchandise. I talked with Jimmy’s management team and they have provided further clarification in regard to merchandise:
A contractual obligation to one merchandise company exists. They have exclusive rights to manufacture and sell all Jimmy Wayne and Meet Me Halfway merchandise. Therefore, no additional Jimmy Wayne and Meet Me Halfway merchandise can be manufactured and sold.
It is important that we be cautious even if we are manufacturing merchandise to give away. I would suggest that before you spend money to manufacture a Meet Me Halfway item, you talk with Kristy Barto, our National Street Team Coordinator, to make sure that there will be no contract infringement.

How should I work with Country Radio? Jimmy stressed that country radio is aware of Project Meet Me Halfway. They have been provided with Project Meet Me Halfway information and are supportive. He would like to see Street Teams focus our energy outside the music industry and outside country radio. I followed up with Jimmy’s management team and they offered this guidance:
It is acceptable for Meet Me Halfway Street Teams to connect with country radio to provide them with Meet Me Halfway information. This connection can be through sending the radio station an email, a press release or through an initial phone call. However, please do not contact a country radio station more than one time per event/release. If a country radio station is interested they will contact you back and request more information. Once the station has made that follow-up contact, feel free to work with them. If a country radio station would like to interview Jimmy Wayne, please have the radio station contact Jenny Bohler.
Do I have to get permission to do a Street Team Project? Jimmy is very excited about the Street Teams. He has given us the go-head to be creative in raising awareness in our communities. Having us on board to do the work at the local level allows Jimmy to focus on walking and on creating national awareness. As you come up with materials, fliers, ideas, partnerships, etc. keep your Regional Coordinator in the loop and also register your project on the website. Regularly, we will be reporting back to Jimmy summarizing all that is happening (and we will share this with all volunteers, too).

May I organize Meet Me Halfway Street Team Activities at Jimmy Wayne shows or hand out Meet Me Halfway information at Jimmy’s shows? We SHOULD NOT do a Meet Me Halfway Street Team activity at a Jimmy Wayne show/venue/event. This is getting too close to the music side. Many venues/events have language in Jimmy's contract that prohibit any fundraising, materials being handed out, etc. Jimmy always talks about Meet Me Halfway from the stage, so that is how the Meet Me Halfway awareness happens at the venue. And, he always refers folks to the website for more information on how they can volunteer and participate.

This does not mean that Street Team members cannot meet up at shows and do a Street Team event prior to/after a show. A good example of this is the Monroe Harding collection that was done in conjunction to the Opry/Tubbs shows. We used the shows as a way to focus on a city/organization and did a Meet Me Halfway project. However, we handed out no information and did no activities at either of the venues. (The Tubbs Theater and the Opry both did their own Meet Me Halfway fundraising that night -- but that was their choice and they came up with that idea with management -- which is how it has to be.)

One important thing to consider is that Jimmy can get the message out at his shows -- we need to figure out how to get the message out in other venues, to other groups, etc.

Jimmy created the Street Teams to get more people involved in raising awareness of the issues faced by youth aging out of foster care. Street Team membership is open to everyone. Some have asked if volunteers have to sign up on the website. Jimmy has asked that we track volunteer participation in Project Meet Me Halfway and for this reason we encourage volunteers to sign up on the website. This generates an automatic email that will be forwarded to a Regional Coordinator and ensures that the volunteer is added to our database. We will be doing an email newsletter that will go to each of the volunteers in the database.

Two weeks and one day after Jimmy first tweeted about Street Teams, I am amazed that we now have a Meet Me Halfway Street Team organization.  I encourage you to join us on this incredible journey.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Create Change: Volunteer for Project Meet Me Halfway Street Teams

Yesterday, Jimmy Wayne introduced the idea of having Street Teams for Project Meet Me Halfway. I am amazed at the number of folks that are stepping up to volunteer to serve. I want to share information on how we see the MMH Street Teams working, a description of the important roles -- Street Team Member, Street Team Regional Leader and Street Team National Leader -- and to answer some questions that I've received.

What is a Street Team?
A Street team is a term used to describe a group of people who 'hit the streets' promoting an event or a cause. 'Street Teams' are a powerful promotional tool that has been adopted by entertainment companies, record labels, the tech industry, corporate brand marketers, new media companies and direct marketers worldwide. Street teams are also used by non-profit organizations to raise awareness of issues.

What is the goal of the Meet Me Halfway Street Teams?
The Meet Me Halfway (MMH) Street Teams are focused on raising awareness of the issues faced by the youth aging out of foster care, holding local community based projects to benefit organizations that serve these youth and supporting Jimmy Wayne’s Project Meet Me Halfway. MMH Street Team members must be passionate about making the world a better place for these young people. Street Teams will be connecting and partnering with organizations in their communities that serve young people. Street Team members should be comfortable working with the young people the project seeks to serve.

The MMH Street Teams are NOT connected to the music side of Jimmy Wayne’s life. Traditionally Street Teams are involved in promoting and artist and his music. This will NOT be the goal of the MMH Street Teams. Jimmy strongly believes that raising awareness of the issues should be the focus of the MMH Street Teams.

What does it mean to be a member of a MMH Street Team?
All Street Team members, including the national and regional leaders, are volunteers. Anyone can volunteer to be a member of a MMH Street Team. Members should have time, energy and creativity to devote to the Street Team. Members must be a positive advocate for MMH and be willing to engage a diverse audience in supporting MMH. Street Team members need to be proactive and willing to connect with others in their community. We need Street Team members will all skills – we need folks wanting to be out doing local events and folks wanting to do the behind the scenes work from their homes.

Street Team members will work to spread awareness in their local communities and will initiate local MMH projects. The following are examples of projects that Street Teams may initiate:
  • Developing bumper stickers for MMH and handing them out at local school events;
  • Connecting with local radio stations and asking them to play MMH Public Service Announcement on the air;
  • Partnering with local youth serving groups to hold local MMH fundraisers;
  • Recruiting others to join the MMH team;
  • Holding house parties where individual learn about MMH and how they can be involved;
  • Mailing information on MMH to local political leaders;
  • Writing articles and posts for online forums, websites, etc.
“The sky’s not the limit” when it comes to Street Team projects. 
What does it mean to be a MMH Street Team Leader?
MMH Street Team leaders must be extremely committed to improving the lives of those young people who are in foster care and will age out. Leaders must have time to invest in the success of MMH. All leaders will have to spend an extensive amount of time working on Meet Me Halfway project.

It is anticipated that the following will be the key leadership positions.  Please review these and if you have the time, the energy and the skills -- please volunteer.

National Leader
1. Communicates regularly and Supports the Regional Leaders
  • Collect master database of all volunteers and provide to www.projectmmh.org
  • Collect info on all street team projects and provide to www.projectmmh.org
  • Help regionals with advice or brainstorming regarding recruiting and projects
2. Serve as the liaison between Street Teams and Project MMH
  • Create and send regular summary report to JW/MMH on numbers of volunteers and project activities (would be nice to have creative approach here that uses maps or something)
  • Deliver messages/requests from JW/MMH to Street Team organizations

3. Send out regular (biweekly or weekly) newsletter to all volunteers that includes:
  • Updated list of Regional Director/volunteers for each region
  • Activity update for each region
  • Suggestions of projects/approaches to raising awareness

4. Ensure that the regional leaders have the information they need to be successful
  • Let the website know what information is needed;
  • Write content for the www.projectmmh.org website related to the Street Teams;
  • Motivate the Regional Leaders to do more and share their successes.

Regional Leaders (approximately 6)
1. Communicate regularly with the National Leader
  • Weekly provide names/info on any new volunteers to National Leader
  • Weekly provide info on all street team projects to the National Leader
  • Help team members with advice or brainstorming regarding recruiting and projects

2. Recruit and Activate: Recruit MMH team members from the region and give them the tools/info they need to raise awareness and hold local projects (website will provide some of this to Regionals)
  • Get the word out that street team members are needed;
  • Correspond with folks from the region who are interested in volunteering and get them engaged and on projects;
  • Organize street team members in smaller groups by state/city;
  • Be the one that answers questions of street team members/ gets them the info they need to do their work.
3. Motivate the Teams and Celebrate their Successes
  • Motivate the street teams to do projects/raise awareness;
  • Capture the success stories and share with the National;
  • Make sure all volunteers feel engaged and important.
How can I become involved in a Meet Me Halfway Street Team?
Go to the projectmmh.org website and complete the form to volunteer. Let us know the role that you would like to play. We will be in touch. If you have questions, or are uncertain if you have the time needed, then email me and we will talk. 

If you have already submitted your information, you will be getting an email from me in the near future.  I look forward to working with all of you.  

I always end these blogs with a Jimmy Wayne photo.  I had a chance to see Jimmy, Jake and Johnny last night in Hiawassee, Georgia.  It was a great show and I had a chance to meet many Jimmy Wayne supporters.  Instead of ending with my traditional Jimmy Wayne photo, I want to end with a link to a CBS News video report.  If you are wondering if you have the time or energy to volunteer to help those youth aging out of foster care, take a minute to watch this.  I think you'll realize that we must all volunteer -- if not with Meet Me Halfway then with one of the many other organizations that support youth in foster care.  We can all make a difference.  


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Creating Change: Creating a Family

When I began researching the issues behind Project Meet Me Halfway, I was struck by the story of Nicole, a young woman who had aged out of foster care. Her foster parents had asked her to leave once she turned 18. She wrote of needing a family and said that the need for family does not suddenly disappear at age 18. She wanted a father to walk her down the aisle at her wedding, a mother to be with her when she gave birth, a family to visit on the holidays. Reading Nicole's story, I realized that the need for family does not lessen as we get older. And, I realized that family should be forever.

Elaine Barnes Bateman and her husband are parents to twenty children. Elaine has agreed to share with us her experiences in providing family to older youth. Reading the following, I realized that Elaine is creating the forever family that Nicole, and so many youth in foster care, crave.

This past Sunday evening my husband and I decided to take our usual weekly date night. Most of the weeks we take our dates on Friday nights, but due to our adopted grandson Joshua turning 11 on Friday, we stayed home with our family of 15 and celebrated. You see we, my husband and I, have 8 kids (young adults, but they were kids at one time) and we "adopted" 12 young adults. Our family has minimized by a few recently!

When my husband and I got married in 1995, we immediately became a family of ten. Without any guidance we embarked on an amazing journey. As our kids were growing up we noticed that more kids kept coming and staying longer in our home. We experienced first hand the physical abuse of one of our first "adopted" sons. He was a beautiful 16 year old that had only known instability, no father, and an abusive mother. He fled to our home and lived with us for 6 months until he was offered a truck if he went back to the abuse. We were heartbroken but understood that he continually wanted the approval of his biological mother and was very afraid of her.

That experience led us to always keep our hearts and our home opened to those young adults that wanted and needed a mom and dad in their lives!

Referring back to our date night we encountered three young adults from various backgrounds; here in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where everything just seems so perfect. These three were employees at a fast food restaurant who immediately began talking to us. They did not have any idea that I was Mrs. Kentucky International and that my husband and I were parents to kids just like them. As we were talking and my husband told them who I was and about my platform they said, "Wow, we don't have a family either." I asked, "Are you serious?" They said yes. We smiled and we went to take our seat. As we were waiting for them to bring our food to us (frying it fresh), my husband and I said to one another how this situation is repeated over and over again. The young adults came to us and we just told them to pull up a chair. They were amazed that we would take time to talk to them. One of them shared how he had been in and out of three foster homes. This young man in particular said he tried to block the idea that he soon would be out of the system. When he turned 18 his foster parent said to him that he could only stay there until he found somewhere else to go. That is a family?

One shared how at 18 she was abandoned. The younger one shared how she did not know who her father was until recently. She was living with her mother but one of her brothers was in foster care. Then she began to cry! We all had tears at that time.

The more we listened to their stories my heart was touched even after 15 years of opening our home to kids just like them. What makes us think that at 18 all kids want this freedom? Who says that only infants to young teens are the only ones that need to be adopted?

Elaine Barnes Bateman
Mrs. Kentucky International 2010

Elaine and her husband are creating a family. Through Ruth's Hope Project, they are also teaching others how to invite older youth into their family. What I realize as I follow Jimmy Wayne and Project Meet Me Halfway is that there are actually many people like Elaine -- people who are creating family in their communities.

Jimmy Wayne continues to create a family of supporters.  First through Ping, and now through Twitter, Jimmy Wayne fans from accross the country have become fast friends and family.  Through Twitter, Stephanie (Twitter/stephmc5) has pulled together a group of Jimmy Wayne supporters to collect needed items for Monroe Harding.  Project MMH supporters from across the country are sending her gift cards and items from the Monroe Harding wish list.  This Saturday, Stephanie and several other Jimmy Wayne fans will deliver the items to Monroe Harding and then head on over to the Opry to see Jimmy and the Radio Band.  I love this photo that Stephanie shared recently on Twitter.  I look forward to meeting lots of MMH supporters at Monroe Harding this weekend and hearing some great music at the Opry!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Creating Change: Character, Faith and Persistence

As I was reading Jimmy's latest tweets, I was reminded that it takes strong character, faith and persistence to stay focused on the BIG PICTURE. It is so easy to let little details, complications and drama derail us from reaching our goals. Especially when the goal may seem impossible to reach.

Sharon (twitter/sharonnyc)is on a quest to become a mentor in New York City. She has agreed to blog on her progress and her latest entry follows:

New York City Foster Care Statistics
(Children’s Rights Report, Nov 2009)

16,000 Total number of foster children in NYC
56% Proportion of African American children in NYC foster care system
>15 Average caseload for NYC foster care social workers
40% Caseworker turnover rate at NYC agencies in 2006

I’m torn as I write this blog entry. The past five weeks have been an incredibly frustrating attempt at finding a mentoring program where I can volunteer, and if I weren’t so determined to do this, I would definitely have given up at least two weeks ago. On the other hand, I’m starting to find a few people who seem to know what they’re doing and might be able to help me. And yet I still haven’t found the right agency. The frustration continues.

Starting with the run-around---a month ago I Googled “foster care volunteer new york city” in my first attempt to find a way to become a mentor. Try it. The results are overwhelming. I haven’t been able to count how many agencies and facilities there are in New York City’s foster care system. There are state-run agencies, city-run agencies, homeless shelters, religious organizations, and so many others---and no central directory for them. It would be a full-time occupation for someone (or several people!) just to keep an updated list of contacts and information for all of them.

So I held my breath and hoped that I could find the right place. I started with one of the first results that looked promising---ACS (Administration for Children’s Services), whose “Mentoring Program is designed to meet the needs of older youths in foster care”. The website looked good, so I printed the Mentoring application, completed the questions, and sent it to the mailing address on the form.

Three weeks later, I had heard nothing, so I tried calling the phone number on the form. I left a message on the voice mail recording. I did that several times. Still nothing. Finally I decided to go walk into their office and talk to an actual human being.

It turns out that ACS had moved to another location and had not updated their website or deactivated their voice mailbox. Juvenile Justice is the new tenant at that location, and they didn’t know anything about how ACS was managing its mentoring program. Juvenile Justice said they had someone who might have forwarded my application, but they weren’t sure. They said they would have someone look into it and call me, which immediately rang alarm bells for me. I know that bureaucratic “it’s not our responsibility” kind of attitude (to be fair, they do have plenty of their own problems to deal with), and the only way to deal with that is to become a pest. I asked who were the appropriate people at ACS to contact, and refused to leave until I had specific names (not department help lines---real names) and phone numbers.

Three days and many phone calls later, I’m not sure whether ACS even has a mentoring program or not (some people have told me yes, some have said no). I did manage to talk to one of the project leads in one of their departments, though, who was very nice and was happy to talk to me for quite a while and answer my questions. I told her about the website and voice mailbox that are still active, and asked her to make sure they disable them. She says that she will take care of it, but I plan to keep checking to make sure it gets done.

I’ve also spoken to a few people at Mentoring USA, and they might have a program that offers what I want, but we’re still having conversations about that. At least they take my phone calls and follow up via email, which I appreciate. I’m finding that blogging about this process helps me push through the frustration of dealing with “the system”---I’m documenting everything, so I’d better have something to write in a few days! I sincerely hope that this is not the typical experience for people who want to become mentors in the foster care system. It has to be easier than this!

We will continue to check in with Sharon. Of course, I have to end with a couple of Jimmy Wayne pics. This weekend I get to see Jimmy at the Opry. Here's a couple of photos from recent Opry appearances.

 If you would like to contribute to this blog, just let me know!!


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Creating Change with Loose Change

As I meet supporters of Project Meet Me Halfway, I am continually amazed at the efforts taking place to improve the lives of young people as a result of Jimmy Wayne and his walk. I will be spotlighting different efforts raise awareness and support for the young people served by Project MMH. Please connect with me to share what you are doing in your community.

In January, Teresa Saucier (twitter/texaslovesya) mobilized other Jimmy Wayne fans and started the Loose Change project. Teresa came up with the idea of collecting and donating Loose Change while thinking about what she could do to help. Unable to make a significant financial donation, Teresa realized that many, many others were in the same situation. She was determined to find a way she, and all Jimmy Wayne fans, could help. As she was thinking, she remembered a photograph that Jimmy tweeted this summer while on the American Saturday Night tour. In the photo, Jimmy was holding his "treasures" which included loose change with the message “I’m parking lot treasure hunting.”

As Teresa says,

Remembering the picture, I realized that EVERYONE has loose change somewhere, whether on your floorboard, at the bottom of purses, in the washing machine, left over from purchases, etc. What if people donated their loose change? I was looking down while deep in thought and there it was -- a penny, then two more. I knew that I should do this!

Teresa connected with the Nixa online radio stationand they were excited to assist with the project. She decided to designate HomeBase Youth Services in Phoenix as the recipient of her Loose Change. She and Nixa began working together to promote the Loose Change campaign and to encourage others to donate. Nixa added a Loose Change page to their web site that is linked directly to HomeBase. HomeBase – realizing that they would be receiving Loose Change – added a pull down tab on their donation page. This partnership makes it easy for folks to donate their Loose Change.

To launch the Loose Change campaign, Nixacountry.com invited Rachel from HomBase to join them on air to talk about the project. As Teresa says,

The importance of Loose Change REALLY hit me when Rachel from HomeBase said that $1 is enough to feed one meal to one homeless youth. And some youth may only get that one meal for the day! I was inspired to keep collecting my Loose Change and committed to getting others to start collecting theirs.

The beauty of Loose Change is that anyone can participate – no donation is too small. If you think it may not be worth the effort to go online and donate just $5 or to mail a check for just $5, remember $5 is a meal for 5 children. Jimmy has over 11,000 followers on Twitter – imagine what would happen if half of us donated our Loose Change!! Wow – that’s a lot of meals for a lot of young people.

Teresa suggests that we get children involved in the Loose Change project. We can use it as an opportunity to teach children about homelessness. It is a great way for children to see that they can make a difference. She convinced me. I have talked with my two boys – age 5 and 10 - and they have decided to have a Loose Change fundraiser at the local roller skating rink. All their friends will be invited and the invitation to the party will be sent with a Ziploc baggie. The “price” of admission will be a Ziploc baggie filled with Loose Change. They are excited about their project! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Get Creative! Team up with friends to make collecting Loose Change easier and more fun. Collect your change together. Put a contribution bowl in a visible place and give a small prize to the one who guesses the amount of change in the bowl at the end of the week. Or, bake cookies for the person that collects the most change. Take turns taking counting the change and sending it in. A little time spent will mean a difference for a child who is hungry.

There are many ways to get involved in Project Meet Me Halfway – Loose Change is an excellent example. Let me know what you are doing in your community to create awareness and raise funds for organizations that serve homeless teens and those teens aging out of foster care.

Of course, I gotta end with some Jimmy Wayne pics.
Nixa has used the picture that inspired twitter/texaslovesya to start the Loose Change campaign as the link that will let you donate your Loose Change.

I love this shot taken by twitter/trishannCLE  in Akron earlier this week.  
Thank you Marmot for supporting Jimmy Wayne!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hiscall, Inc. -- A Business Modeling Christian Commitment to Community

When I think about the corporate world, I often think of corporate greed, bailouts and businesses driven purely by profit. It is refreshing when businesses support the work of non-profits and the work of individuals who are fighting for the voiceless members of the community. Hiscall, Inc. and Marmot are sponsors of Project Meet Me Halfway and a vital part of the project.

Today, I want to share what I have learned about Hiscall, Inc. Later on, I’ll do the same for Marmot. (Much of the information on Hiscall, Inc. comes from Fast response key to success an excellent article by Jenny Burns as printed in the Nashville Business Journal - March, 2009, and a Who's Who article in Nashville/Williamson County Spring/Summer 2009.

Hiscall, Inc. is a telecommunications business out of Dickson, Tennessee, that sells, installs and maintains telephone and data networking systems, cabling and parts. They sell to other businesses, business partners and directly to customers and strive to provide the highest quality service. Serving customers nationwide, Hiscall, Inc. believes in treating all people and customers with dignity and honesty.

Hiscall, Inc. was founded in 1995 and named with God’s guidance. Gary Luffman, the founder, President and CEO, wanted his Christian faith and principles to be mirrored in his business, so he named the company Hiscall and added the cross in the logo. The name was born from one of the late nights Gary was working on the business with his wife and business partner, Sarah, a nurse practitioner. She said, “It’s going to be His call if we make it.” The name stuck.

Even in today’s economy, Hiscall has continued to grow and develop because their commitment is first to God and then to their employees and customers. “Our long-range goals are to remain in submission to God, provide a quality work environment, be a world class service company and lead by example in all we do,” Gary maintains. “While we aren’t necessarily trying to be the largest, we’re absolutely striving to be the very best at what we do.”

The Hiscall, Inc. business philosophy is based on the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Luffman says, “Internally and externally, we respect one another and strive to simply treat others as we want to be treated.” Hiscall takes pride in the efforts for employee satisfaction and retention. The company celebrates birthdays, anniversaries, births, and other life changing events, and also gives support when an employee has a loss in their life. Hiscall has also installed a recognition program where employees are encouraged to find “the good” in fellow employees, let management know about it, and then that particular employee will be recognized.

Treating people as Jesus would treat them is extremely important to Gary and Sarah. Their mission statement is the acronym “C.L.A.S.S.,” standing for Christian Ethics, Leadership, Appreciation, Service and Stewardship. “We value people of integrity who lead by example and appreciate each other, the opportunity to work together, excellent customer service and all that God has entrusted to us,” assert both Gary and Sarah.

After reading about the founding principles and the mission of Hiscall, Inc., it is clear to me now why Gary, Sara and Hiscall Inc. support Jimmy Wayne and Project Meet Me Halfway. With their strong sense of Christian commitment, Hiscall, Inc. will certainly continue to succeed and will continue to serve as a model for how businesses can serve their community. All of us should hold all businesses up to the high standards exemplified by Hiscall, Inc.

Of course, I have to end with pictures.  Jimmy's tweets and ustreams continually stress his appreciation of Hiscall, Inc's support and I thought I'd pass along a couple of the pictures he tweeted with his messages.
Jimmy's Message:  
Here's my office; & of course it's carrying my guitar. Thanks to Hiscall.com who donated this 2 show support
Gary Luffman, Hiscall Inc. came out and showed his support for Jimmy @ Snappy's in McEwen, TN