Saving and Enhancing Lives in the Community
Speaker 1 (00:23):
(silence) Welcome to Purpose City, stories of humanity in action, sponsored by Executive Wealth Management. Guests on Purpose City do not necessarily reflect an endorsement of Executive Wealth Management.
Welcome to Purpose City stories of humanity in action. And today is pretty exciting, we have a room full of people, two different organizations, three including Executive Wealth Management, and we Big Cheese here from Executive Wealth Management, the Chief Operating Officer, Mike Lay. If you took out operating, Chief Officer, sounds like you should have a badge and a side pistol.
Yeah. Anyone who knows me knows that's not my personality, so. Yeah. Thanks Ken. We're excited to be doing this podcast, and Executive wealth Management we've been serving our clients for over 35 years, both locally and nationally. And just trying to help them reach their version of financial success. And I think one thing that's been a driver for us over the years, that's helped us have staying power is our focus on community. Our pillars, our trust, community, and compassion. And we try to live that out every day in the people we hire, in the people we work with, and the partnerships we make in the community. And part of that, a couple of years ago, we started doing something where instead of just having a couple of organizations, maybe that the ownership likes to support, we started putting a survey out to our employees.
We wanted everybody bought in to the organizations we were supporting, right? So we put a survey out and we said, "Anyone that applies, we're going to support that organization. If it's important to our people then it's important to us." And as that evolved, we started to take surveys and decide, "Okay, how are we going to allocate resources based on where the demand was among our team members?" So today we have two of the organizations here that have risen to the top, just because of the great work you guys have both been doing.
And we're so excited here to talk about that, raise some awareness, and learn a little bit about what you guys have going on, and hear your stories, because this is stories of humanity in action, right?
So we have Julie Smith from Work Skills, and we have Mark Howell from Fund A Life.
Thank you. Thanks for having us on. Yeah.
Yeah, absolutely. No, we're excited to have you here. So we've been longstanding partners with both you guys, both your organizations. We've done a lot of great work together and I'm just going to open it up from start, and we're going to start with Mark. So Mark, why don't you just give us the, who is Fund A Life? Why is Fund A Life? And tell us a little about yourself.
Yeah, thanks Mike. My name's Mark Howell. I'm the founder of Fund A Life, and really Fund A Life was started in 2012. I was diagnosed with stage four melanoma, and the doctors gave me about six weeks to live, and insurance was limiting my ability to get treatment and seek out options outside of our regional hospital. And the community got wind of that and really started about an 18 month campaign to raise about $200,000. And it literally funded my life, and traveled the country over the next three and a half years, seeking out different treatments, different surgeries, each one really prolonging my life to get to the next step, and wouldn't have been able to do that otherwise.
So once I made it to more of a safe place, I guess, in my health journey, I really just thought, "Wow, what a gift living in this community has been, and so many people are not afforded that same opportunity, and so much of it just goes back to their financial restraints." And maybe I have a unique network of people that can support us that I can tap into to help pay for it, and help other people facing similar circumstances. So really started doing the research on, "Hey, do other organizations like this really exists?" And there's a lot of great organizations that do very specific things for people in crisis moments, but really not one catch-all that somebody could go to in that financial crunch, and maybe avoid a GoFundMe, maybe avoid something else where it really just relies on their network alone.
And can they tap into that resource of that organization that, "This is what they specialize in." And that's really what the idea of Fund A Life was born around was, "Hey, can we fundraise year round so that we have this big pot of money essentially, so that people facing crisis situations can apply for help? They can come to us, and we can vet out the application, and if we're able to do so, we can get behind it and help them get through it, and not even just financially, but really deliver them hope in some of their darkest moments." And that's really a catchphrase that we've really taken a liking to is shining light in the darkest moments. And we use that in our daily journey, and daily messaging, And that's really what we yearn to do.
So really we've been around for about the last four years, and we've helped a lot of people. Just this year alone in 2021, we've already awarded 15 grants, totalling about $70,000. And in times like this, where a lot of people are hurting, a lot of people need hope, and they need a lot of help, and we're able to be flexible during that time, and help in a lot of different ways.
It's just incredible. It started with your story, and I want to spend a little more time on that, but then it's created so many other stories which is exciting, and I want to hear about a few of those too.
So, I mean, talk to us maybe just a little bit more when were going through some challenging times, and I remember talking to you back then, and then one day you came in and said, you had a two or three-year-old son at the time, and you said, "My wife's pregnant with twins."
So right in the middle of all that chaos you're still going along and building your family. Just talk about some of the emotions, and some of the things that your family went through during that time.
That's the funny part about life, right? It doesn't wait for us. It just happens. And when I was first diagnosed, it was two weeks after our first born son was born, Gabriel. He was two weeks old, and then I was diagnosed with stage four cancer and they thought, "Hey, you'll live maybe six weeks." I was like, "Whoa, that's a big month. That's a big month right there." And I remember going through all those emotions with my wife, and just trying to juggle it all. We were just lost, and this community, them rallying behind us, really got us through that time. They supported us, they got us through it emotionally, financially, everything else.
So was it individuals through a Fund A Life, they spread viral?
Yeah, it was really just community members from our Livesey County Community, specifically there were two families that really got behind it, and I'll name drop them. And it's a [Bar Binkley 00:07:03], and Don and Sandy Cortez, both from the Brighton Hollow communities, they have local businesses as well. And they're like family to us, and they just said, "Hey we got to do whatever we can to help save his life." And they just rallied all sorts of events, big and small, to help fundraise as much as possible.
So you had a six week diagnosis, and 18 month of hospitals and recovery.
Yeah. It was a three and a half year journey of ups and downs through the cancer journey in general. So it was surgeries, treatments, failed treatments, traveling the country, doing different things. And each one just prolong my life long enough to get to that next step.
About how much total came in?
About $200,000 they raised. And it was gone in about two years, and it was all gone. And we used it all for traveling to live different places, staying up in the expensive hotels to get treatment there, all the medical bills. All the stuff that you don't even think about. And it was never even a worry for us, we had our own just account that was the cancer account, as we called it Mark's cancer account, and we just were able to just pay things as they came in. We downsized our house, we did some of the normal, responsible things I think you should do, or could do. We did those things, but we weren't a wealthy family by nature, we didn't have all that money to do things, and I was basically out of work for almost two years.
So we were able to do all that and never worry about the financial aspect, and just focus on healing because of the community. So it was crazy.
And then like you said, Mike, somewhere down the line, of course my wife was always focused on growing the family throughout. She was like, "Yeah, he's going to make it. He's going to make it." I'm like, "How are you thinking about more kids? And I'm over here dying, what is going on?" But she had faith, so that was good. And, yeah, once we were two and a half years out we decided, "Okay when is really going to be the perfect time. I mean, I could go outside tomorrow and get hit by a bus, so let's just be faithful." And we were strong in faith throughout that process. So we tried to extend our family, and bam, we're hit with twins, so that was an interesting dynamic at play. But now we're in the clear of that. In January I celebrated five years cancer-free.
That is awesome.
Yeah. A milestone we never thought we'd make it to, and Fund A Life is thriving, honestly because of great partners like EWM here in the community.
Yeah. It's such an amazing story. Every time it gets [inaudible 00:09:38], it just puts everything in perspective, doesn't it?
So who was the first one that you helped through Fund A Life?
In 2017, we had around of two families that we helped initially and both $6,000 grants and those were our first two. And we had this little pot of basically $12,000 and we gave it away and it was such a cool thing. Unfortunately, one of the family members lost their battle to breast cancer last year. And the other family that we helped had experienced a loss in their family. And it was a father who ran a small Asphalt business, he was on his own, and he quickly declined health wise, it just came out of nowhere. So the family's income, everything was all reliant on him, he didn't have life insurance, he didn't have the things to secure the family if something happened to him, and he unexpectedly passed away, and the family was left in now the bills, not only from his funeral, but also like, "How are we going to stay in our house? How are we going to keep our car? How are we going to have an income?"
So we were able to give them that grant of $6,000, it was able to just bridge the gap. So they were able to at least take a step back and figure out what their next steps were. It didn't fix all their problems, but it gave them the relief needed to be able to get to [crosstalk 00:10:58].
So Fund A Life isn't necessarily paying for hospital bills, it could be.
It could be.
But if worst case happens, it's helping take a double tragedy out where the family's hurting financially after [crosstalk 00:11:10]. That's awesome.
Absolutely. Unfortunately, a lot of our common applicants are cancer and health related diagnoses, That's unfortunately just so common in today's world, and people, they go bankrupt from that stuff. It changes their whole trajectory of their lives. So we do see a lot of that, but we also see house fires, we see a loss of a loved one like you mentioned, we see maybe job loss, maybe abuse in the family of some kind that they need some kind of a gift to be able to get to the next step. Our mission is even written in such a general way that we can help in almost any crisis.
You can have a family with special needs-
... and they happened to know that you get a modified vehicle, a simple Astro van. I don't know if they make those anymore. It's like $60,000.
How does the family do that?
Well, and oddly enough you use that example-
Fund A Life.
Fund A Life.
Our biggest grant to date was with a local superhero, if you will, his name's [Larry Pratt Jr. 00:12:13]. And this young man, he just had his 19th birthday, he has had over 108 surgeries since birth, and he's from the Pinckney area, almost anybody in the community just knows him. He's an awesome human being. He's in pain every day of his life. He's in and out of the hospital, literally every week. And bless his family, they have a huge family and he's the one that keeps that family going. He has a smile on his face 24/7, and he was trying to get some more independence. He has a lot of equipment that he has to bring around with him all the time, to go to school, to go to the movies, to do anything that all of us take for granted.
And we were able to gift him a van of about $60,000, so that he could have some more independence. He could have the life of a teenager, more normal quote unquote, and a carry on his equipment, and have a little bit more of a life. And to this day he just inspires thousands of people. He's got a huge relationship at University of Michigan, and with a lot of guys in the NFL, he's such a cool kid.
He's somebody that really puts life in perspective on a daily basis.
So is this your full-time thing?
It is, it is. I quit my six figure normal cushy job in July of 2019, to basically go all in Fund A Life, and see it through as it was just something that I just felt a calling to do, and a passion to do. And it didn't make any sense financially for us to even try to do that, but we were able to do it and my wife and I have just been faithfully following that lead ever since, and we're able to impact a lot of lives because of it.
Yeah. I mean, what's amazing is there's extreme examples, like what you went through. So then you have extreme life change, and you're helping other people full-time, which is amazing. And other people at back of their mind, whether it's organizations like Executive Wealth Management, or if it's personally, we've got business to do, we got lives to live. That's really noble for you, but not everybody can do that. But if companies help you do your mission, and I can help personally, then we're all doing our part. We're doing what we can, and we're helping people like you help those people.
Absolutely. We've established, essentially we call them mission partners, and we have a few select mission partners that really get behind our mission in a huge way that really helps us run the business, and operate, and look forward, and plan, because a lot of our fundraising and things are dependent on events, and people showing up to donate. And as we know, I mean, the world can change, and people's income can change, and all of that happens. And EWM has been a mission partner of ours for now three years, and every year they commit, every year they give us that large check, frankly. And it's huge because it's something that we always know is coming in. We can rely on it, our mission would not exist without partners like Executive Wealth Management.
Right. So how old are your kids?
My oldest one is eight, and the twins are four, boy, girl twins, Lilly and Luke, and they're twin tornadoes.
I was just thinking about growing up with parents like that, or in that environment, how your worldview would be so unique, no matter what you go into, if you ended up going into law, or you going into some kind of finance, what are you going to do? Cosmetology, whatever. But it seems like it would breed in you just a focus on others that not everybody has, and appreciation for family. I mean, if they learn that you're there and you may not have been, they may have never met you.
Right, wrong or different, my eight year old son and I have a very special bond. I mean, he literally is like my superhero. If he wasn't born those two weeks before my diagnosis, I know I would not be here today, that all happened by design, on purpose. And he gave me the purpose to just fight on and not living was never an option, it just wasn't. He could have grew up without a dad. From day one, we have raised him with that transparent message of, you are the reason dad is here, and this is what he is trying to do with his life, and he has a very unique perspective of an eight year old for sure.
Yeah. That's fantastic. Well, let's transition a little bit. We have another guest here today, and we want to hear from you too, Julie.
Can I just go dry my eyes? Seriously, that is a tough act to follow, and I've known you for years. I have watched the journey, and I just want to ask you more questions.
Your doing amazing things too, though, Julia, so don't hide back there.
Ken said it, I think he said it best, right? Everyone has to do their part in their space, where they're called, and they're led to do. And what Work Skills does is pretty incredible too. So why don't you tell us a little bit about that, an organization that I've grown to love and be a part of, and tell us about it.
All right, sure. Do you want to know who I am? Who cares?
I am Julie Smith. I am the development director for the Work Skills Foundation, and the foundation basically supports the corporation, and we help people with disabilities and other barriers become successful.
That's it in a nutshell, really. And just seriously, so many things that you said, especially at the end, everything he said, right? When you have people who are committed to you, and we call them vision partners at the Skills, but the same thing to know that you can count on that money because non-profit work is awesome, but budgeting can be tricky because you don't know what's going to happen.
So how did you get involved with the Work Skills?
I went on a tour of Work Skills in 1995 when I was on the Leadership Livingston Program and I saw the clients there, they were cutting form I think you used in shipping. And I said, "I want to work here when I grow up." And I have not yet grown up, however, I have been at Work Skills for eight years and I love it, but it's such a great place to work. And, Mark, you talked about Larry and other people who are your super heroes, that's what makes it so easy for me to do what I do. I don't even like to call it my job. So when I see someone with a disability or a barrier, and they're excited because they get to go to work, I know nobody in this room has ever said, "Oh, I have to work today, right? Nobody, right?
Yeah. We both have.
But they have such a different perspective, right? It's all about perspective. So many stories. So Daryl, one of my buddies has been there for, I think nine years now, I lose track. The goal is always to get someone employed competitively in the community, but if they want to be at Work Skills, if they would rather be working at Work Skills, we want them there. So he has tried a couple of jobs in the community and really felt more comfortable at Work Skills. It's not a sheltered workspace, right? It's a supportive environment. And I remember a couple of years ago, his family travels a lot and they were going to Poland, and his mom's all excited. And Daryl said, "Well, yeah. But that means I can't go to work for two weeks." Really? How many of us feel like that?
Right. Perspective, for sure.
It's funny because, so I'm part owner of Executive wealth Management, my wife was a special ed teacher and she stopped to stay home with the kids. And we fast forward a couple of years later, and Julie asked me to be on the foundation board. So I sit on the foundation board for an organization that helps people with disabilities, and my wife runs a ministry out of our church that's focused on businesses. So I don't know how that happened, but here we are.
Yes, you do. I'm putting it out there. It's all about him, right?
Wait, this is not video, but I am pointing upwards. So Mark, you and Christina and your faith got you through, right? You and Carrie, it's your faith? Me and 20 years, I don't know. You're the numbers people, Mark, how long was that? From '95 to 2013? Faith that someday the time would be right and I would call Work Skills my home.
Yeah. And you know what's it's cool? And you're right about that certainly, is anyone that knows Julie, knows you do a great job of getting people in for a tour. And I don't think there's any way to understand what Work Skills does except going and seeing it.
I heard about Work Skills several years ago, so I was like, "That sounds like a great organization. That's cool." And she was like, "You should come for a tour." I was like, "Tour of what? I don't know your office, or..." And then to see the facilities and just all the energy in those buildings is pretty incredible. So talk about that, maybe try to paint that picture for people so that they get a little bit of an idea of what Work Skills is, because in your head you think, "Well, they have a little office somewhere."
I was just there last week.
It's a campus, right?
I was impressed. Yeah. The offices are as nice as any business office would be.
Big conference room, high tech things. I'm answering the question for you.
Thank you, I appreciate it.
But I was there last week. I'm giving you a new person's perspective. Yeah. I guess you call it factory. I don't know. But then right adjacent you walk through the factory area that's like a... If you've been in to industrial factory, maybe like a car plant or something. And then all the workers are there, and it's like the happiest place on earth.
Amen. It is. So it is difficult, and thank you, thank you. Thank you for coming. Have you been there?
I have not. That's what I was thinking. I was like, "Man." I've just never been invited. So I guess that goes to show where I measure up.
Okay. We'll check in after this podcast. So Work Skills has been around for almost 50 years, looking around the room I can see one of us was around 50 years ago, so I won't name names, but we started... I laughed when you said Executive Wealth's been around for 35 years. I'm like, "You weren't even born."
He was born. We'll just leave it at that.
I was four. I was less than four.
I seem to have lost my train of thought, which happens, which is why people don't come for a tour. Anyway, so the whole idea is to get people prepared, to be successful at work, right? Whether it's a physical, or mental disability, or maybe you're just underemployed. I think didn't we talk about that, anywhere there?
We did. You showed a slide, it had all these different [crosstalk 00:23:09].
Barriers. And I noticed one in there that was, how did you term it?
Under employed. I had to ask what that was, and just people that may not have a disability, but they're having a hard time adjusting to workplace environments, just getting a job.
Sure. Like finding or keeping a job, right?
So we all have soft skills and worker traits that you need to be successful. And there are some people who don't do that really well. So they can come and get supported, and they understand, "Yes, when we say 8:00 to 4:30 every day, that means 8:00 to 4:30 every day. And this is how you could speak to a supervisor, and this is how to interact with your coworker."
That's super cool.
Thank you, but it's-
I had no idea that that part existed.
Right. And that's for anybody, right?
Yeah. It's super cool.
So people come and they get the skills they need to be successful. So where we were that's the production floor is what we call it, where they do assembly work and some packaging things. But we have seven other divisions. I really should've brought notes. That's our employment services, which is the heart of everything we do, right? Our mission is to optimize potential, and that's what we do. So production is a big part of it. We have a home healthcare division. We have residential. You may have seen we're building our second residential home right now.
We have behavioral services. We have action associates, which is a staffing division. We have a school in Ypsilanti, WSC academy, which is a charter high school. Look at Mark, he's like, "Wow, no kidding."
I'm learning. I'm learning a lot.
No kidding. And I've forgotten something, so I don't know what I forgot. Oh, wait, artisan corner, studio west.
Right. So explain that, so I've seen that building from where we're at, I see it all the time, but I had no idea it was connected to you. I think the artisans are actually part of your program.
Yes. And in fact so that's another way to become successful is to be paid for being an artist. I mean, how cool is that? We actually were recognized by Michigan Works a couple of years ago for innovative workforce development, because these folks come to work and they do art and I'm telling you, they do really nice art. So have they painting, ceramics, jewelry, fiber arts, a little bit of everything. And when their items sell, guess what? They get a pay cheque.
That's super cool.
Yeah. Nice. Yeah. So any particulars, you could tell us people that have come in? The way you're looking at me, is that a no-no, how can we?
Oh, no, I'm just-
[cross talk 00:26:03]. Even just be specific. Well, I don't know, you don't have to be specific with the names, I guess, but people that come in that maybe just having a hard time with employment, and they get the coaching, how does that process work? Or maybe how long does it usually take?
That's [crosstalk 00:26:20] trick question.
I don't know.
No. So people who come to us are referred, right? So fee for service, so entities like Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Community Mental Health, LESA, contract with us to provide services for people. There is no typical stay, and I'm not dissing you but there isn't, everybody has an individualized plan with vocational goals, and that's how that works. But I'll tell you a little story about one of our artisans, and I happened to have known him since he was little, because I knew his family from church, of course. And when he came to us, he had a stack of notebooks with drawings of My Little Pony. Remember My Little Pony?
And was not real verbal, real interactive. He did his own thing. And he started in the art program, and he would come, and he would do his drawings, and then he would use markers. And Michelle, who runs artisan corner could see that he was growing, so she started with paint markers. So then he has a canvas he's using paint Markers. Well then because Michelle is super awesome at bringing out the best in people, and he did not want to paint. It was a textural thing, he couldn't be around the paint. Well, one day his [inaudible 00:27:45], I don't know, TL. I might have made that up. His paint marker ran out, and paint markers are very expensive.
So Michelle says, "Well, look, there's a little cup of that color of paint right over here." So he got a paint brush, and literally would stand two feet away from whatever he was painting on because he didn't want it to get close to it. Anyway, well, fast forward because this is like a three-hour show, right?
Anyway, since then, Garrett now has painted everything. He painted a huge mural in the wall at Work Skills. He painted our cabinet. He has taught other artisans how to do things like that, and help him finish the projects. And he will talk to anybody.
That's so cool.
He has his own Facebook page, his own art stuff. And literally we cry a lot at Work Skills, happy tears for the most part. I'm sure you never cry over any of your stories.
Liar. So I was doing a tour one day and I walked in and he was sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor, painting the cabinet, and I lost it because that's what I do. So one of our fundraising entities is WOW, which is the Women of Work Skills. So we meet twice a year, we always have a participant speak, and Garrett and his mom came a couple of years ago, he was our featured speaker and he was up there. And again, I've known him forever, and he did his presentation and had some of his artwork, after he finished speaking, he went to every woman in the room, there were probably 30, 35 women, with his business card, "Hey, I'm Garrett. Here's my card. Will you like my Facebook page? He has his own side gig, at home he has a studio, and he sells stuff. [inaudible 00:29:36] question?
Very nice. Yeah.
Well, all that from that untapped potential that may have never been tapped, right?
How cool. That's amazing.
So what's the scope? About how many are you serving now, maybe staff size? So people have a gauge.
Staff size, I think we're right around 80 employees. But then that doesn't include all the people we place for customers through action associates. We serve between 1500 and 2000 people a year, as an organization. So if you do the math, and I'm not going to do the math, but tens of thousands of people have really completed their journey, or gotten on their way. You can go in the community and see somebody, "Oh my gosh, that person used to be at Work Skills and here they are the signing me in at the salon, or something."
Yeah, that's super cool.
So where does the work come from? I mean, you talk about these seven different lines of business in this factory, in the setting. Where's the work coming from? What kind of work is being done?
In the production?
Oh, okay. Thank you. Could you write that down for me? That's the cool thing. Thank you. So they're being paid real money for doing real jobs for real customers, right? So typically it's companies that would maybe subcontract out, so if they come to us and we quote it, it's going to be a fair price. It's going to be high quality because we have done work with the automotive and non-automotive for decades. Again, we have a huge, general motors, engine bracket re-certification program that we run, so there's going to be quality. It's going to be competitively priced, and you get to feel good, right? Because you're helping people that might otherwise struggle to find a job.
Wow. That was one of the coolest things that I learned that I did not know until I did the tour. And I remember being in the factory, seeing this production line, you feel like you're in one of the automotive factories. And I was like, "Wow, I didn't even know that was happening just down the street here in Brighton."
Thank you for coming. Seriously, it is so challenging to connect the dots of everything that Work Skills does. So when people actually take the time, make the time to come and visit and see for themselves, and meet the cool kids as I like to call them, everything makes sense.
There's no such thing as an elevator speech with Work Skills.
So when I was there, they were there big bins of metal brackets that hold lighting trestles or fixtures up or something like that.
Pipes, yeah. Infrastructure.
And I don't know quite what they were doing with them. But did you say you'll get an order of a million at a time?
Yeah. It's kind of crazy. The amounts differ, and I'm out of that specific loop, but there were times when the demand was for 1.2 million of these pieces a month. And anybody can do it, everybody can do something, right?
So anybody can do it.
Yeah. And then Laura, I think it was, was doing some kind of price sticker labels or barcodes. Is that who it was? I don't remember. They just take so much pride in their work showing exactly how it's done, and how they're lining it up, and so happy doing it. It's a very great place to visit.
Thanks. Can I tell you one more little story?
I promise, I'll be quick.
Okay. So, Betty who used to be there, the boopster, Betty Boop. She was awesome, if I were giving a tour, she would come up and I don't know if it's all, but most of the work that we do in production is safety-related. So we do work... Me talking with my hands. There's different size gaskets that go in your gas tank, and we put O-rings, and different little [inaudible 00:33:35] things on them, right? And again, do thousands of those, and how they work is they go in your gas tank, so if you're getting an accident, and you flip over the gas is not going to flow out, your car is not going to burn up, and you're not going to die.
So Betty, as only Betty would come up, if I were giving a tour and she would say, "Hi, I'm Betty. I get paid to save lives. What do you do?" Little sassy pants.
Right? I never said, "Hey, you should say this." But it just makes me happy, because that's what she did. She gets paid to save lives, right?
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:34:12] great.
Yeah. Very good.
So, Mike, what's your role as a chairperson? When you guys meet as a board, what do you discuss? What kind of decisions do you make? Is it decisions? Is it guidance?
I think... And you guys could probably both speak to it, you both have boards for the foundation. We get together and just help make sure that the direction is clear. We're certainly here as a resource in the community to try to connect the dots and connect the people, and try to make sure that the things that need to happen continue to happen for these organizations to be able to run them. And you both said, you're both nonprofits, so you're not selling a thing to make the dollar to do the next thing. You're relying on community support to do great things that as you said earlier, Ken, we would all love to do. And a lot of time it's a matter of not having the time, or our focus is somewhere else.
And the people who do have the time couldn't do it without the people who don't have the time.
That's really deep.
Right, isn't that right?
It takes both. So how could people help you? It's through the foundation?
Through the foundation. And again, so the foundation supports Work Skills. We're not like Fund A Life where we give money to other worthwhile organizations, or individuals. We specifically support whatever programs in Work Skills need the support.
So in general to find you, what website?
I just Google, Julie Smith.
Google Julie Smith. You're the only one.
We should see that Wikipedia.
Oh, I better check that. So for real, our website is wskills.com. And there's a veritable plethora of information there.
How about you, Mark, how did they help you? Or where to find you?
fundalife.org. You can find us on all the social media channels as well at fundalifeorg. And, yeah, we're always looking for more people get involved. We're not quite the size of Work Skills. It's primarily just me and my board.
You don't have a staff of 80?
No, we don't, not yet. Not yet. And I think Julie was hitting on it as well, I think one of the hard parts about being nonprofit is we're not selling a tangible thing, we're selling hope, we're selling the ability to get somewhere forward. So more people that come forward to help support us in a lot of different ways, both of us, I think it helps us. Because we're not always... I think sometimes people are searching for ways to get involved and they don't know that maybe we're looking, but I know that both of organizations are always looking for more people to help, more people to get involved, more hands at the table.
And it's not as writing a check.
Sometimes it's saying, "You're putting on an event this summer, and we have a golf outing coming up to raise money." And volunteers are always needed. Having someone to come in and work with the artisans, right?
And just be there. So volunteered time is always needed in organization like both of yours as well. And you mentioned earlier, you're both really serving a similar purpose, you're bridging a gap potentially. And some of the people you serve might be part of the program longer term, but either way there's a gap in someone's life that's limiting an opportunity, and you guys both get to come together to help fill that gap, which is life-changing, which is awesome.
Meeting unmet needs, right? Isn't that what we do?
Okay. So I'm giving you a shout out, because my mic is hot. So I'm going on top. So we talked about action home house care, right? So even during, you remember that, what was it a pandemic that was going on last year? So our caregivers were still serving clients 24/7, in and out of client homes, and businesses, and whatever they needed to do to take care of people. So of course we needed a lot of personal protective equipment, PPE, and we happened to get quite a nice donation of these masks that say, "Fund A Life." And some other things. And I don't remember the guy who brought them.
[inaudible 00:38:08] guy.
Seriously, thank you. And I will speak for the nonprofit community in Livingston county. It's awesome. I love being a part of this whole community because we provide different things sometimes to the same people, but if we can help each other out, it's what we do. We're not competitive, we're all providing support and hope for people.
No, we were to do it. And it was exciting. Especially at that time, we just happened to have a relationship, and we were able to acquire a bunch of PPE through some different networks that we had. And the whole goal there was, again, like I said, we just have our board and one guy. So it was like, "Hey, if we can get it in. And then we have other worthwhile organizations that need it, let's filter it out."
And we were able to find organizations like yours that could use it, and we were blessed to be able to do it.
Well, isn't it cool that in a time, I mean, during the pandemic, when you had everything going on, businesses shutting down. One of the first things that came across my brain was, "How are the nonprofits going to survive? They're primarily supported by individuals and businesses. How are they going to survive?" And I know it was probably scary there for a minute. But even early on, you guys were both out there continuing to serve, and continuing to help people when so much uncertainty, if you were going to even have enough money to do the next thing.
And that's hard. So with the population we serve, they already typically feel isolated in their homes, or wherever they are because they may have a disability. But then last year at this time, they couldn't go anywhere or do anything. So they were confined to their homes 24/7, and it was really, really hard, really hard for them. So we put in some virtual services and did whatever we could as quickly as we could, because you can't do that on a dime. All that stuff takes money, all the acrylic barriers, and all of our locations. Yeah. But we are here to serve the people we serve, that's why we get up every day.
Yeah. I think what was cool about last year is the one blessing that I took away and I know both organizations did, it was when we were faced with that. I know a lot of organizations were like, "Well, we can't ask people for help now because everyone's hurting." And I think we both took the approach of now's the time where we have to ask for more help, because there are still people able to give it. And what we saw last year was the people who were able to help, helped way more generously than they ever had before, because they recognize the need.
And they came out of the woodwork. And because of that, we were able to support more people than we ever had before, and in a year that made no sense financially to be able to do that. And that's one positive takeaway from everything that I'll remember that year forever, because of the ability to be flexible and help even more people through a pandemic.
Very good. Hey, it was a pleasure meeting you, Mark.
Thanks for your time.
And you too. Yes.
Good to see you again, Julie.
Same. Nice to see you.
Yeah. At EWM we're just so honored to be able to partner with both your organizations and continue to support the work you guys are doing. So just thank you.
And thank you.
Thank you, thank you for your support. And Mike and I are teaming up on the Work Skills golf outing coming up. We'll be right here. [crosstalk 00:41:27].
I was looking at pictures from last year, somebody on that team was not wearing a shirt, but it was nobody I recognize.
It was not one of us.
Yeah. No names will be named. All right, thanks again everyone. And Mike, see you at the office.
And we're going to close out, learning a little more about Executive Wealth Management.