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.

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.

Dreama
dreama@projectmmh.org

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