I have had my heart set on bringing cookies since I first joined Passport to Employment. When you finally get a job, you bring cookies and share your good news. Passport to Employment is a faith-based outreach of The Church at the Crossing to help people who are underemployed or unemployed seek employment. The board kept calling me asking if they could remove me from the roster. I finally decided that I was indeed employed, just not in a conventional sort of way. So I baked peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies and gave a little speech as I said my goodbyes to some of the finest people I have ever known.
A year ago, I was underemployed as a live-in caregiver for adults with developmental disabilities. A friend from church referred me to Passport to Employment. I came with dread that the people would look at me in my snake skin cowboy boots and fur coat and just shake their head and say ?where is your navy blue suit? and of course I don?t own a navy blue suit and even if I did, I would not wear it! Instead I found kindness, hope, encouragement and genuine care. This alone would be enough, but they offer cutting edge instruction on how to stand out and have the advantage in the job search. They particularly offer lots of hope to those with gray hair who are being displaced for younger models.
I followed all the suggestions of Passport to Employment and started figuring out how to take my 200 page resume and get it in compliance. I attended Jeff Crane?s accountability group and learned I was something of an oddity and he said there is a name for people like me, he affectionately called me a ?purple squirrel.? Now that is truly reserved for someone with an incredible specialty and I was just the opposite, I had way too many specialties. As one of many benefits of being part of Passport to Employment, I was able to attend all Rainmaker networking groups and events at no charge and found I liked meeting people but it was still hard to zero in on what job I actually wanted. My marketing sheet had 12 areas of interest from social services to real estate, to adventure and travel to Christian studies, photography and blogging. They encouraged me to order free business cards from Biz Card Xpress and I have become a loyal customer as they helped me design several photo calendars.
I had a number of conversations over coffee with volunteers like Linda Stires and as she listened to my history, my likes and dislikes, my idiosyncrasies, effects from a head injury and outrageous employment history, I was told I was a challenge seeker. Now who is going to hire someone like that! It was also pointed out that I needed several streams of income and several different areas of employment but being a serial entrepreneur, I would probably have to be self-employed.
I am a woman of faith and my dear church is always praying for me. I can?t just go out and get a regular job. I just don?t fit in a box or within 4 walls. So the job I was looking for and praying for was this:
I am a challenge seeker looking for a role as a partner to an entrepreneurial visionary.
I did not see that job title on the job boards. My 10-year job history included being a caregiver for the disabled, an account manager for the railroad and? I took a real helicopter into day care centers as an entrepreneurial helicopter field trip for children. A corporate employer would not hire me but hopefully an entrepreneur would. I just had to find the right match.
On September 1 last year, I walked away from my paying job with benefits (because it was killing me) for what became a bridge job although I did not know it would be so temporary and merely a bridge, but since the company was called Bridge North, I guess I should not be surprised. It was my bridge back north to Indianapolis from the caregiving job in Bloomington. Nothing I had anticipated materialized. The first month I dissolved in fear and anxiety as nothing was working in what I was trying to create and I was dreadfully broke.
I took on a writing assignment for Center Grove Monthly Magazine. It was a business spotlight story. I was already assigned as the photographer but they were having trouble finding a writer. After all it was a spotlight story on a sleep center. How exciting could you make that! Turns out the doctor was funny and I created a very clever opening and it was a success. This gave me the idea to do these sorts of stories as a blog post. I turned my future over to God fully and everything started to happen.
I enlisted help I needed for website development from a local business college. I could not pay but could offer publicity. The person they sent me was Sydney a young woman disabled with cerebral palsy. God knew the right person to give her a chance. I wrote a business spotlight story out of gratitude for her help.
Sydney?s friend Vanessa reached out to me in gratitude for showcasing her sweet young friend. Vanessa said she knew a lot of people and wanted to see how she could help me with my business. She connected me with everything happening at Collaborate 317, the Non-profits and with the Hope Center (an after care center for women who have been sex trafficked.)? At my first networking meeting I met one of the founders of Collaborate 317 and when I said I was a story teller he said I know who you are, I read your story about Sydney. It was wonderful.? Whoa no one reads my stories. No one knows me. He invited me to help the non-profits give a voice to their mission and he said I could pay my rent by writing stories.
At the same time, my business partner in the failed first venture set out to find me a job and she saw that Christian Phone Book needed sales people and she knew the owner Kenton Yohey.? She reached out to him. The last thing I needed was one more opportunity to not make any money. But I sent him my resume. Thankfully he did not look at it. I told him I needed a job and I was a writer, loved promoting people and loved administrative details.
Turns out he is the entrepreneurial visionary I was praying for. I started writing stories for Christian Phone Book. He is promoting me and my stories and I am helping him fill the phone book with Christian businesses who want to showcase their businesses. He tells everyone I am his answer to prayer and he has been looking for someone like me for a very long time.
And the rest is history. I am now self-employed, I have several streams of income. I sell advertising for ChristianPhoneBook.com. We need independent contractors to sell advertising all over the state of Indiana. So contact me if you are interested. I am working as a partner to an entrepreneurial visionary as we launch a new Christian community venture and plan exciting events. I meet with 50 non-profits every Saturday and they have spectacular God stories to tell. I am writing stories to promote the businesses in Christian Phone Book. I am writing stories of the women rescued from human trafficking who are being transformed at the faith based Hope Center. I am connecting members in the faith based community and we are uniting together to build faith and encouragement in the marketplace.
Since September 1 when I left my job, the Lord has faithfully provided. My income comes in $100 increments. It covers my overhead. I knew none of these people in October and since then I have developed a business synergy with so many. It all came when I turned over my debilitating anxiety and worry to the Lord. I quit trying to do it in my own strength and trusted Him for his strength. I just took every assignment he gave me and when I completed one, he gave me the next one. Many were done at no charge as an investment in myself.
Trust the program at Passport to Employment, they know what they are doing. Follow everything they recommend. It works. Even for a purple squirrel like me!
P.S. The cookies were a hit!
The Story Teller
Polly Riddell writing as G. Polly Jordan