Still At It

Can you believe this is my job?

I pinch myself sometimes, surprised that the idea that was in my head is now out in the world and produces enough income for me to live well enough to not need a real job. What a strange luxury.

It’s been nine years. That’s about 8 years longer than I thought it might last. It’s taken me all over the country. It’s introduced me to thousands of people, some whose names you’d know. I’ve been able to chase other dreams. When you catch one dream, you just assume that you can catch them all. So, I’ve tried other things, like building things out of a novice woodshop that I managed to pull together And, of course, Stand-up comedy. It was my dream as a kid and now some people pay me to try to make them laugh.

What a strange juxtaposition, was homeless for a minute, was in care for a minute and then BAM! I have nearly everything I’ve ever wanted thanks to the work I’ve put into this.

What now? Seriously, from the outside looking in, what do I have left to do? Get better is the answer to that particular question.

I’ve been running scared since this whole thing started. I keep half expecting someone to show up at my door and ask me to stop what I’m doing immediately. Or the subscriptions to stop, or maybe I lost the advertisers I’ve managed to sign. None of that has happened. In fact, I’ve found some new advertisers and these subscriptions keep coming in. The job now is to get better, give everyone more than their money’s worth.

As I do that, other cool things are starting to happen. I get to see some of the people I’ve come to know and like come into their own. I’m getting to see the fruits of their labor.

Case in point, Jamole Callahan from Ohio. You may know him by his motivational speaking moniker; Mr. Motivation. I know him as my buddy Jamole. I’ve seen both. I like both. I’ve known Jamole since about a year into the mag’s run.

I was an FCAA Board member and he was one of the incredible active members of FCAA Ohio. We got along right away. We’re around the same age. Both married. Both have kids. Both were trying to elbow our way into a foster care system that was filled with landmark advocates. By landmark, I mean they were in place forever. You could figure out the geographic locale of the foster care issue by the person presenting it.

Jamole and I were among a crowd of new faces with big energy and new ideas. We couldn’t wait to take our place. It took some work and time but we forced them to set a few new places at the table for us. We would carry on the work of people like Misty Stensile as we solidified out places among the go-to people in foster care. Experience counts, folks, and we’ve both got that.

Soon Jamole was hopping planes to motivate people and I was grinding away to bring them all the news and info I could. Jamole trained foster parents and rocked crowds. I informed the masses and rocked in my computer chair. We would link up as often as we could. I stop nearly every time I roll through Ohio and he has been to my house. Then there are foster care events we both attend. I’ve slowed down on the travel and face-to-face work but Mr. Motivation has amped it way up! He’s getting hard to keep track of. I’m easy to find.

Amidst his speaking engagements, foster parent training, new podcast with 2 other noted Ohio (nationally known, really) advocates, Arian McElmore and Michael Andre, The Daily JAM and his work with FCAA Ohio and Ohio itself, he found time to bring housing vouchers for foster youth across the nation by working with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Timeless work being rewarded, how cool?! He and the rest of the Ohio contingent worked their tails off to tame this mountain of an idea and make it a reality.

There’s a press release and a brief breakdown of the accomplishment in this issue, but Jamole and I are going to get together in October to translate it from government speak to a language we can all understand.

Closer to home, Pennsylvania has signed free college tuition for foster youth into law. I will have a lot more info on the law and the movement nationally, with who already has it and who needs it. After a few years of little movement in foster care, things are happening again.

It seems like they’ve finally got a handle on the Family First Act, it’s about to go into effect. I’ll have a breakdown on that too.

Lots for me to do. Hopefully getting better every step of the way. Enjoy the issue, I’ll see you next month.