Saturday, December 18, 2010

This Year's Christmas Project For Homeless Youth - I Am Desperately In Need Of Help And I'm Not Above Begging!

As it turns out, I am going to need a lot of last minute help with this year’s Christmas project for the homeless youth. I am so far behind on it due to my son’s recent health problems that I don’t even see how I can get it done without some kind of “Christmas Miracle”. But I can’t give up because it MUST be done – not only for the kids at Tumbleweed, but for my son as well.

See, when I offered to put together stockings and made the arrangements with Tumbleweed, it came up because the man who has been doing Christmas stockings for them every year was unable to do them this year. So, I stepped in and offered to do them since I already knew that I was not going to be able to dinner this year like I had last year. At the time it seemed perfectly “do-able”, but then my son started to get sick – and then sicker and sicker. Now I find myself nearly at the last minute and all I have are about five stockings, some toiletry items and a few small gifts.

Here is why this is so important: Not only will these homeless young people get no Christmas gifts if I drop the ball here, but also my son will feel like he caused it to happen. He has been in on this project since it first came up, so it’s not as if he isn’t aware that it’s come to such a halt. Of course his illness is not his fault, and I can comfort him and reassure him all I want, but I know my son – he is going to feel bad. He is already under tremendous stress, and stress aggravates his condition. I have to make this project happen – for the homeless kids and for him.

I am not above anything at this point. I will beg, I will plead, I will post my begging and pleading all over the place – anywhere I can. I will do whatever it takes. Please help me out here!

Here’s what you can do: Click here to see a list of needed items. If you can donate any of them, especially if you’re local here in Phoenix, please do. If you can’t do that but you’re able to toss a few dollars toward the project, click here to do that. Last, but most certainly not least – if you would, please post this blog anywhere you can. Tweet it, post it on your Facebook or MySpace, say something on your web site if you have one, etc. Anything to get the word out. Again, this is especially helpful if you are here in Phoenix or know people who are local here and might donate items (or time). But no matter where you are – I would so appreciate it if you would do this!

If you have any questions, you can always contact me at If you have concerns of want references so you can rest assured that I’m not some kind of scammer, I can easily provide you lots of those. If there’s anything at all you want to know, just drop me a line.

Thank you so much for reading, and please – please! – help out if you can!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Humbug. Down In The Dumps.

I do my best - really I do, and I'm generally pretty good at it - but even I sometimes can't pull myself out of a funk for a while. This Christmas season sucks.

In the last month and a half, my son has been in four different hospitals. Four emergency room trips, three ambulance rides, two extended hospital stays and a partridge in a pear tree. Well, okay, there was no partridge. But I'm trying to keep my humor here, people.

For a while I had to close my online booth (it's open again now, though - please visit!), and lately I can't even make or keep appointments because it seems every other day there's a new crisis with him. I've stood up the handyman, the plumber, and two of my own doctor's appointments. Shoot, he's missed his own doctor's appointments a couple of times because he ended up in the hospital first! So anyway, yeah, I'm down in the dumps.

I have no idea how Christmas is going to happen around here. We don't have a tree yet or a single decoration put up, and I haven't purchased a single gift. I am absolutely, positively determined that I will get my stockings project for the homeless youth done, come "hell or high water", as they say. But will I get Christmas to happen in this house? Gawd, I really don't know.

Well, keeping it short today. Here's hoping I will be back to my chipper ol' self pretty soon. Just wanted to put an update here for those who read. I try to keep it upbeat, but if I'm gonna be honest, I have to admit when times are hard, too.

Please keep my son in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Found a Great Article on Foster Kids and College

Someone tweeted this article today, and I am so glad they did. Many people may not understand the issues of foster kids trying to go on with adult life, and college is just one of the things that are particularly difficult for them. I will let the article speak for itself, as it is a very good and insightful look at the issue. If you're interested, you can find it here:

From Foster Care To College Life

I can certainly tell you from first hand experience that this article is spot-on when it comes to many of the challenges these kids face. My foster son still lives here at home, and he's 21 now and in his third year of college. Without the support system he has with us, I do not see how he could have made it so far. I wish I could take in more kids like him (someday I plan to do just that), but I have to be realistic about my own limited resources, being a single mom. I do hope that talking about my experiences with young people I've known, if not raised, will help shed light on their issues for people out there who don't know or understand what they face.

Thanks to all who take an interest in these great young people!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Really, really, really quick update on Christmas Stocking Project!

I only have a few moments tonight, but I want to throw out an update on the Christmas stocking project. I now have two volunteer helpers; if you'd like to be involved, just get in touch with me.

I have now received a complete list of names from the director of the Tumbleweed Drop-In Center, and we will be making a total of 50 personalized stockings for the homeless youth who utilize the center.

Quick list of things we'll be needing:

* Stockings (50) - Homemade or store-bought, of adequate size to accommodate a decent number of items (probably at least 18"), and suitable for puff-painting on the cuff part so we can personalize. **Note: I have found that they have perfectly suitable stockings for one dollar at Dollar Tree!

* Puff paints or other paints that will work for writing on fabric.

* Small sized toiletry items.

* Socks.

* Stocking-stuffer sized gifts.

* Lip balms.

* Gift cards.

* Telephone calling cards (particularly important because these young people used to be able to make necessary calls from the drop-in center, but due to budget cuts the center can no longer allow long-distance calls).

* Batteries.

* Wet-wipes.

* Snack-size food items.

* Small flashlights.

* Body sprays.

* Candy (particularly Christmas candy, of course).

This list is by no means "all inclusive", and I will most surely be adding to it later. If you have items you'd like to donate other than those I've listed, of course I will not turn anything away! All items are welcomed happily!

If you'd like to help out but just don't have the time or any items to donate, you are welcome to donate a few dollars with which we can purchase any needed items. I will be setting up a Chip-In page that allows you to donate through PayPal.

My online booth still isn't open (sorry) and I don't have the shoe drive fully put together yet, either (sorry), but there will be more info to come on that within the next few days.

Thanks for reading and I hope your holiday season is wonderful so far this year!

Monday, November 22, 2010

This Year's Christmas Project For Homeless Youth

Just a quick update: The Christmas project I will be doing this year for the homeless youth in Phoenix will be... (drum roll please)... stockings! I have been in communication with the director of the Tumbleweed Drop-In Center (a home in central Phoenix that's used as a kind of daytime homeless shelter and resource center for homeless youth) and he is very enthusiastic about the project. He has provided me with names and ages of young people who regularly use the drop-in house so that we can personalize the stockings (he emphasized that this really means a lot to these kids), and we will also be making some blank stockings for any other youth who come in. Staff at the drop-in center will have supplies on hand for last-minute personalization of any blank stockings in those cases.

I have at least one helper so far on this project. If you would like to be involved, please contact me! Also, we're obviously going to need donations. We will need stockings, of course, and also items such as toiletries (small sizes) and socks, and of course fun "stocking stuffer" items. I will provide a list, hopefully by tomorrow, of more of the specific things we'll need.

The shoe drive project is still being worked out, and I should have more info on that within the next couple of days.

My online booth, Rummage Rampage, has still not re-opened, but that is also something I plan to have happening within the next couple of days.

Please stay tuned!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Was Gone - Now I'm Back!

I haven’t posted here in a while because – basically – my life came apart at the seams for a little over a month, to be honest. I’m still not sure it’s entirely holding together again. I thought a lot about whether I wanted to go into detail here in explaining what all has happened, but I decided against it. Suffice it to say that there was not just a single crisis, but one after the other after the other. To go over it all would be too long and involved, and it would probably get too personal with regard to at least one of my “stray” kids. So, I’m just going to let it go and pick right back up where I left off.

First, though, if anyone who was affected by my “disappearance” is reading, I do want to apologize. There were customers from my online booth who received packages late or whose shipments were messed up while I had someone else take over for me (I did finally get my booth put on “vacation hold” so that there would be no more sales while I was unavailable), and there were other customers who sent me e-mails that either went unanswered or were answered very late. I vanished from Twitter and Facebook, and even my family and friends did not hear from me for a while there. To everyone: I’m sorry. I wish I could explain, but I just hope you’ll understand that I can’t and that you know I’d never leave you all hanging on purpose. Things were just real, real bad.

I can talk about this, though – the latest crisis to hit: My fifteen-year-old son has been suffering from gradually-intensifying tremors and shaking, along with shortness of breath and a light-headed feeling, for about six weeks. This overlapped with all the other stuff that was going on, so it’s been a very difficult time. This “condition”, whatever it is, finally resulted in a full-on, nasty, horrifying seizure. Over the last month and a half he has been to several doctors and has been in three hospitals – the last one, after the seizure, was the most extended stay – and no one can tell us what’s wrong with him. He’s been referred to a neurologist for further testing, but for the time being we are just living on pins and needles.

Now, where does that leave me as far as my “freelance mom” activities? Well, it leaves me in a bit of a pickle. The next month or so is going to be very much filled with doctor appointments and such for both my son and myself (in the midst of all this I became ill as well, but we’re not gonna go there), so I have made the very difficult decision that I will not be doing my Christmas dinner/project again this year. It is just more than I can take on right now. However, I am talking to some different people about the possibility of someone taking it over for me, so it’s not as if it might not still happen. I am still working on my shoe drive, though, and also on a somewhat different Christmas project. (just not a dinner) that is more in line with what I can handle right now.

I haven’t re-opened Rummage Rampage (my online booth) just yet, but barring any further crises (cross all your fingers and knock on wood), I plan to do that some time this week. Also this week I will have more info ready to share about the shoe drive and Christmas. I have some people to meet with and talk to, particularly regarding the shoe drive, and then I will get things rolling and share it here.

That is all for now. Wish me luck. Please! :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Discovering And Loving Twitter - Finding Great People Already!

So, I finally got with the times and set myself up on Twitter (See that nifty link up in the corner of this page? Follow me!), but I am still learning how to use it. Please be patient with me! Anyway, pretty much immediately upon opening my account and browsing around for people with similar interests, I happened upon the neatest group of ladies here in Phoenix! They are the local “Meet Me Halfway Street Team” for

I had never heard of before, even though I feel like I should have. How did I miss this? As recently as a month ago, country singer Jimmy Wayne had finished his “Meet Me Halfway Walk” – where he’d walked halfway across the country to bring awareness to the plight of homeless youth and those aging out of foster care – and the grand finale was right here in Phoenix. Yet somehow I missed this news. Ah, well, I can’t keep up with everything. I am just glad to have finally discovered this organization!

This Saturday I will be meeting with these new Twitter friends I have made, the ladies who run the local street team for MMH. They have offered to talk with me about helping with my Christmas project for this year. I am so excited, both to possibly have some help with this year’s project and also to meet people who share my passion for youth in need.

I will keep posting updates about Christmas (and the shoe drive – I’m still working out some details on that). As I’ve said before, if you’re interested in helping this year, please get in touch with me. And please check out – I’ve added them to my “favorite links” over on the right-hand side of this page. If you have a heart for youth and the particular struggles of those in foster care or without homes and families, you will want to throw your support behind this cause!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gonna Need Some Help With This Year's Christmas For Homeless Youth!

Let’s talk about this year’s Christmas for the homeless youth here in Phoenix. When I did last year’s Christmas, it actually blossomed into a Christmas Day dinner/event not just for the youth, but for anyone who had no place (or no money) for that special day. I don’t mind if it turns into that again, by the way. For those of you who were there, you know it went beautifully.

I do need to do some things a little bit differently this year, though. The most important thing is that this year I cannot do it alone financially. Last year I funded the entire event (with the exception of some last-minute donated items) out of my own pocket. I did not even ask for “helpers” until a couple of days before Christmas, and I never asked anyone for any money. Now don’t get me wrong – I would not go back and change a thing. But this year I can’t do it by myself.

The details for this year’s event are still sketchy, but one thing is for sure: There will be one! LOL! I don’t know if we’ll be able to use the same church facility again, but I am in discussions with them. They are having some financial problems of their own, though, and some of their kitchen appliances (primarily the refrigerators) are not working, although they are in the process of trying to get all that fixed. In any case, I can’t be guaranteed the availability of that same space we used last year. Thus, I’d either have to hold the event at my home (unlikely because my home would also need certain repairs before I could accommodate a crowd), or I may have to rent a place.

Another thing that will most likely be quite different this year is that I will need more hands (“helpers”) and probably one main right-hand-person, because I may not be able to attend the actual event myself on Christmas Day. I can do all the work just as before, I can get everything set up, etc., but I may not be able to be physically present on Christmas. In that case, I will need a stand-in to take over and run the show.

Anyway, there’s just an awful lot that’s still up in the air. It’s all being hashed out, and something will get put together. But for the time being, I have to start asking (earlier this year) for help with this thing. I’m going to need volunteers, and I’m going to need some funds. If you’d like to volunteer, contact me either here through my blog or on Facebook ( is my booth fan page). If you were involved last year, you probably have my e-mail address and can contact me that way (I would post it here, but I’m not sure that’s a good idea?) or by phone if you still have my number. Okay, I don’t care how you contact me, just get ahold of me! LOL!

If you’d like to contribute funds, I have set up a “chipin” page where you can “chip in”. Here is the link for that page: Sorry – I had no idea it was going to create a link that long when I set up the page. Ha ha. This is my first time using chipin, so if you run into any problems, please let me know. I’m just learning about this myself, so it’s a new thing for me.

So that’s where we are right now, still in the planning stages, but needing to start getting some money together for this thing. I hate asking for money, by the way, so I am a terrible fundraiser. But I really want to do this again for the young people out there, so I’m biting the proverbial bullet. That being said, if any of you who were there last year – and know just how great this was – would like to help spread the word, I would really appreciate it. I realize a lot of people don’t “know me from Adam”, as they say, so your help and endorsements on this could really make a difference.

Once I have a list of people who want to be involved, I will plan a lunch or something where we can all get together and talk. I think it would be really nice if this year – unlike last year – we all got to know each other in advance and could talk about what each of us has to offer and/or can do. I will keep you all posted on that!

Thanks for reading, thanks for helping, and I look forward to lots of fun this season!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Man Cave

My house is becoming a “man cave”. Kayla (one of my “strays” who lived with us for years) moved out and got her own place a couple of years ago. She still comes over pretty regularly and of course she’s still part of the family, but she’s growing up and has her own life. Then my daughter moved out last month. The last of the feminine influence around here – aside from me – was lost. I have only boys now.

I come home to football gear (and the special aroma that goes with it), guitars and video games strewn around the living room. I have to argue over the TV, fighting for my right to watch “Top Chef” or “Flipping Out” instead of the continuous stream of sports and skateboarding that’s become the background noise in my house. Frankly, even when I do win the battle and get to watch one of my own TV shows, it isn’t the same having to watch them alone. There’s no one here who cares much to share my fascination with Paula Deen or wants to watch a chick flick with me.

There is a picture on the wall by my front door that is slightly off-center from where it should be. Kayla hung it there. I need to move it over about half an inch, but I can’t seem to get the motivation to bother since no one really cares about the pictures on my walls. I want someone to say, “Oh yes, that looks really cute right there!” when I find a new little vintage knick-knack from a yard sale (I love old grandma-looking stuff). The boys don’t care. If it were up to them, I’d hang Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix posters all over the living room. Arrrrgghh!

I know what I need to do. Well, one thing I need to do, anyway (I’m sure there are a lot more things). I need to get baking. Baking relieves stress for me, and at the same time it makes me feel all domestic and “mom-ish”. I like it, and it’s one thing the boys can appreciate. What boy doesn’t like to wolf down cookies? Right? I’m just waiting for the temperatures here in Phoenix to drop at least below 100 degrees, though. I can’t afford to heat up the house by using the oven.

Ah, well. I will get over this, or I will find myself a new “stray” who is a girl, or I will just adapt. I’ve always adapted, but sometimes I do it kicking and screaming. Ha ha. This might be one of those times.

But hey – At least I have help here who can move heavy stuff and do yard work, right? Right. Well, maybe not so much without a lot of nagging (I hate nagging). Typical guys they are. Gotta love ‘em, but gotta kick ‘em in the pants. Guess I just need to get my kickin’ boots on and my oven mits at the same time, and I’ll feel back to my old self. If nothing else, I am at least determined to get a nice back yard out of this!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coming Soon: Shoe Drive For Homeless Youth

Last year I did a Christmas Day “event” for homeless youth who had nowhere to spend their holiday, and it went beautifully. If you haven’t known me that long, you can read about it here:

Well, plans are still in the works for what to do this year (I know, I know, time is running short and I’d better get moving on it), but there is one thing I would really like to get started on right away. Last year I asked many of the youth (as many as I could get in contact with in advance of the event) what they would like for Christmas. While there were a few variations, the overwhelmingly most asked-for item was shoes. It makes sense when you think about it. A young person who spends their days and nights on the streets does a lot of walking, and they go through a lot of shoes, which are hard for them to come by. I’ve seen them wearing shoes held together with duct tape, and I’ve been there at the Tumbleweed Drop-In House (it’s like a homeless shelter for youth, but open daytime only) when donation boxes came in that included shoes. The boxes didn’t even make it five feet inside the door before those kids were all over them. Shoes get them excited, and they are in constant need of them.

So this year I would like to do a shoe drive. I’d like to have as many pairs of shoes as possible available when I do whatever I decide to do (it’s still up in the air as far as where and how we’ll be doing this year’s function, but I will post more about that later) this Christmas. I plan on asking around for people to donate shoes (used shoes are just fine as long as they’re still functional – these kids are not picky), and also I would like to have somewhat of a fund set up so that we can purchase shoes if needed. For instance, last year there was a particularly large young man who had really big feet, and we had no shoes in his size, so we had to take him to a couple of different stores before we actually found what he needed. Between now and Christmas, my kids and I will be hitting the thrift stores and yard sales for good used shoes, and I am a really good shopper, so I’m sure I can grab up quite a few at low prices. If any of the rest of you out there would like to do the same, it would really be appreciated!

For now, I am just kind of putting this info “out there” so anyone who is interested can perhaps start to keep this in mind, set aside any good shoes you might have been ready to drop of at the Goodwill, etc. If you are local here in Phoenix, I will probably be setting up drop-off locations at my home and also at the church where I work. If you live out of state and would like to be involved in this shoe drive or in this year’s Christmas function, please just keep me in mind and drop me a note when you have a minute. That way I can get in touch with you as ideas are hashed out and we’ve come up with ways for you to be a part of it all.

Thanks for reading, and please do follow my blog if you’re interested in helping homeless and at-risk youth. I will have lots of ideas and things to do that I’ll keep you all updated on as the holidays approach!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Summer From Hell (A bit of a rant) - or - "What I Did With My Summer Vacation"

I last posted her over a month ago on August 10th, and at that time I was sort of putting out “feelers” to see if perhaps there would be other moms out there who would like to join me in my adventures. Some of you contacted me, and I either replied saying I’d get back with you later or I did not reply at all. For that I apologize. Even though I’d had the idea for a while of reaching out to other moms, the middle of this last August was not, I now realize in retrospect, the right time to do it. Little did I know at the time – although I probably should have – that I was about to step right into the center of a “perfect storm” of crises that would just about crush me (and would take some time for recovery before I could embark on any new endeavors).

This summer had already been a rough one at best. My ex-husband had stopped paying child support, my hours at work had been cut in half, finances were tight to the point of snapping, and I needed to come up with the money to send my daughter to her college internship. She’d worked hard to get accepted, and it was a great opportunity that I could not let her miss. The pressure was intense, and I would do whatever it might take to get her there.

Ah, but luck was not on my side, and the summer of 2010 (“a summer that will live in infamy” for our family – lol) was not going to ease up on me for even a moment. If I believed in karma, I might have pondered whether I’d spent a previous life kicking puppies or pinching small children and old ladies.

I held an online rummage sale to raise the funds needed by my daughter for her internship. It tanked. Meanwhile, one by one, all the vehicles in our household broke down. I’d get one repaired and then another would go. We were rotating cars like musical chairs. Our roof succumbed in a rather ugly way to the summer monsoon storms. I was dragged into a family drama regarding the care of my maternal grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s. My son was injured playing football, the dryer broke, the washing machine sprang a leak and flooded the house, then the kitchen sink sprang a leak and flooded it again. The cat got sick and died. I kid you not. It seemed to me as though cries of, “Mom… Mom… MOM!” were coming at me fast and furious, from every direction, until they haunted even the few precious hours of fitful sleep that I could eek out for myself.

All the while, as it seemed I was putting out fires left and right, the continuous thread running through the tapestry of my crisis-ridden world was Vashti, a young lady I’d taken under my wing who – at this time of all times fate could choose – required my constant attention.

I had helped Vashti, who at 20 years old was already homeless with two small children, find a place to live in a transitional living program (as much as I would have liked to, there were reasons why I could not take her and her children into my own home). In retrospect I am still not sure I’m happy with having placed her there, but there were – and still are, as far as I can find – no other available options.

The program and its staff proved very difficult to work with, and their demands of her were nearly impossible. The threat of being kicked out and once again homeless loomed almost daily. No sooner would I help her meet one of their requirements than there would be another issue with which they were not satisfied. When I would try to speak with them and make sense of it all, I would get conflicting answers (yes, they want her to get a job but won’t help with childcare, then no, they want her to enroll full-time in school, then no, they don’t want her in school full time because she should be working full time, then she should enroll in school because this is what they want her to do, then no…) until my head would spin. When I would attempt to come to her defense as to why certain things were so difficult, the reply I would get was, “Well, other people in the program are able to do it.” Further probing revealed, however, that others were “able to do it” because they’d come into the program with certain resources that my girl did not have. They could pay their program fees, for instance, because they were receiving child support and/or had jobs (she had neither). They could work and/or job search because they had child care through the state (she is not eligible, and although I’d been led to believe this program would be helping with childcare, that “changed”). To make matters even more difficult, the program’s rules prohibited her from receiving any gifts at all. So, for example, when she needed items for her baby, she was told that that was “her own responsibility” even thought she had not income yet, and I was not allowed to give her anything. Items donated to the program for her baby (the only way that I or anyone else was allowed to give her anything) were, in fact, never passed on to her. Rather, they were found being sold at a fundraiser rummage sale for the program. Ultimately I went to that rummage sale myself, bought back what items I could that had been donated for her, and I “loaned” them to her. It was the best work-around I could come up with to the no-gift rule.

My relationship with the people who run this program became tense early on, which at first I found baffling. I had tried to be as helpful as I could, but I was getting the cold shoulder and being squeezed out of “the loop”. Normally, when I take in a young person and refer them to different social service organizations, I am not only treated with respect but with open arms and a welcoming attitude. They are usually very glad that the young person they’re being presented with has someone else in their life to help. I am used to becoming very friendly with the various social workers, who have always in the past been very open to discussion, suggestions, and exchanging ideas. They appreciate me. Not so with this new place – and they were literally new, having just opened. My girl was, in fact, their very first client (although more did come into the program with the same month). I had years of experience working with troubled young people, and I was watching them do everything wrong while refusing to hear any outside input. It was very frustrating, and I did not understand it. I did eventually hear, though (and from a very reliable source), that the program’s director simply “did not like [me]”. As it turned out, what he did not like was accountability. The program flipped and flopped, changed rules and policies, made mistakes and kept trying to fix them without listening to anyone, all while people on the outside (including me, but not only me) watched and could see the problems coming but could do nothing.

As of this date, by the way, Vashti is still living at this facility. However, her life has become a train wreck with their help, they are now denying that they ever directed her to do certain things (things for which they now don’t want to take responsibility since they turned out to be the wrong steps), and I am currently in the process of helping her try to develop a “plan B” for when this whole thing finally caves in.

So… That was what I was dealing with this summer, all while the house was falling apart and my daughter was trying to get to her internship and all the other crises were circling me like sharks. We did get her to that internship, by the way. Here she is in the registration line for her new apartment at the Disney College Program:

When we got home from taking her there, I had no car (we’d resorted to having someone else drive us). So, the first thing I did was walk to the store. One mile – not a big deal normally, but in 108 degrees it can really put a damper on your mood. I realized then that, although we had succeeded in getting my little “Pookie” off to California, the summer of 2010 was not done with me yet.

Kristen, aka “Pookie”, was my eldest, my firstborn, my foodie friend, my baking buddy, my TV pal, my movie companion, my second in command around the house, my “BFF”. As you other moms out there can surely imagine, I had some emotional adjusting to do once I returned home and her absence in the house became a reality. But there was no time for that. I was faced immediately with a promise I’d made weeks before: I’d promised I would babysit for Vashti so she could go to school. The folks at the transitional living program had insisted that she go to school, with the threat of homelessness once again hanging in the air if she didn’t follow their “plan” for her, even though she still had no resources for childcare.

There I was: My daughter gone and me having had no time to wrap my brain around that, the cat gone as well, stuck all day with no car and a crying baby (something I had not dealt with in fifteen years) who was used to being breast-fed and refused to take a bottle, my house now filled with only boys and quickly becoming a “man cave”… and then the cable modem went out. I had no internet access and no way to communicate with my online customers, which made me a nervous wreck. Well, more of a nervous wreck (lol). It felt as though my entire life had been turned upside down in a matter of weeks, and my world looked nothing like it had just a month before.

I lasted about two weeks before I had a complete meltdown. I quit babysitting, feeling terrible and guilty because I’d made a promise, but having to acknowledge when I could do no more. The day I gave it up, I had reached the point where I was literally shaking all over. I’d dropped off the baby in a borrowed car and come home, and there – bless her heart – was my favorite aunt waiting for me. My state of mind was written all over my face, with the bags under my eyes and my heart – I was sure – visibly pounding through my shirt. She was sitting at my table when I came into the house, and she said, “What is it? Are you okay?” I simply looked at her and said, “Please get me out of here.”

My aunt took me to lunch, even though I could not eat. She talked to me, calmed me down, encouraged me. Oh, just talking to another adult! I had not done so in weeks. Just to have someone listen, just listen, and not need me for anything! That alone, it seemed, was a huge part of what I needed.

My aunt took care of the cable, got me back online so I could contact my customers and answer e-mails, and I felt relieved. After that, I spend two days in bed. It took most of the first day just for me to let go of the stress sufficiently to relax and be able to sleep. The second day, I slept. I thought that was awesome, that I’d been able to crash out for a while, but it turned out I was coming down with the flu. Seriously. I wonder if, in a previous life, I was an axe murderer or something. Or maybe an IRS agent.

The flu, as it turned out, was a good thing. A miserable good thing, but a good thing nonetheless. It forced me into “down time” that I desperately needed, forced me to take care of myself instead of everyone else, forced me to stop over-extending myself, and forced everyone around me to accept it. I am better now, and oh so thankful for that flu.

And that, ladies and gents, is how I spent my summer. So if you e-mailed me and I did not answer, or if I mailed your package out a little late, or if I didn’t return your phone call or forgot to do something I said I’d get done… Now you know why. I apologize if any of that happened, but at least now you know what the heck was going on.

I’m still working on catching up some things, still working on adjusting to my daughter’s being gone, still trying to get my life back in order. But I’m back, and I feel like “me” again for the most part. I’m ready to start making plans for fall (my favorite time of year), ready to embark on some projects, ready to take care of business. I think the final therapeutic thing I needed to do was to write this all out and “vent” it, get it off my chest, tell someone about my rough summer. Now that’s done, and I feel good.

Thank you, dear reader, for bearing with me. It’s good of you to listen. And now we can all, as they say, return to our regularly scheduled programming. :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Freelance Mom's Club? Maybe?

A little while back, I wrote a blog post called “I Need To Put A Name On This Thing I Do”. Well, I still don’t necessarily have a name for it (although I think deciding to refer to myself as a “freelance mom” was a step in that direction), but I would like to kind of follow-up here on the train of thought I had going on then. Basically, I would like to start toying with the idea of reaching out and finding some other moms to join me in my endeavors and adventures.

What I have in mind, at least for now, is a sort of casual, loose-knit club of sorts. Perhaps in the future it could evolve into something of a more formally organized nature, but I do tend to shy away from the restrictions, structure and, well – politics, to be frank – that tend to come along with a large organization, so we will have to see about that. That’s for another time, though. What I’m thinking of now is something like this:

A few moms, probably four to five at most, who get together for lunch or breakfast once a month to discuss and plan what things we may be able to do to be of help to the needy youth of our community. The group would need to consist of moms who have a heart for teens and young adults, have a little bit of time to spare, and have a lot of patience (these kids will really tax you in the patience department, so dealing with them is not for the person who needs to see immediate results, nor is it for the thin-skinned). I do not – so nor would this group – try to take the place of professional social workers or social service organizations. Rather, we would keep up with services available through such organizations, thus making us able to send a young person in the right direction when they have a need. At the same time, we would plan occasional projects, “random acts of kindness” if you will, such as handing out cold water bottles or sack lunches, gathering donations of clothing and toiletries for youth shelters, or even setting up events such as my Christmas project from last year.

In the process of all this, I suspect other moms will have the same experience I’ve had: Every now and then, you encounter a young person with whom you just “click”. From there, a relationship grows. Soon you’re a mentor, a listener, a shoulder to cry on, a support system in times of crisis, maybe even a laundromat (lol) or a pseudo academic advisor. It can go anywhere, really. Before you know it, you’re in the mom role to someone who needs one.

My thoughts on all this are still loosely rattling around in my head, but I wanted to go ahead and talk about it here because I’m curious to see if anyone expresses an interest in joining me, offers comments or suggestions, or even tells me I’m crazy. Ha ha. Please feel free to comment, or even to contact me privately if you wish. My e-mail is I’d love to hear from anyone who has anything to contribute – ideas, fleeting thoughts, questions, suggestions, whatever!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Project Pookie Launch" ~ Join Us For A Most Awesome Rummage Sale!

I’d like to tell you about my wonderful daughter, and ask everyone to stop by our “Online Rummage Sale” to help her achieve her dream.

Actually, first allow me to back up for a moment and say this: When I post here on my blog, typically I talk about the homeless and at-risk young people that are a part of my life. There are occasions, however, when I find it necessary to step back from all of that and focus on the needs of one of my own biological children. Now, for the first time, I feel the need to do that here online. One of my own needs a little help, and of course she is no less important that one of my “strays” (as I affectionately call them). This is not a negative situation I’m talking about, though. Quite the opposite! She has the opportunity of her lifetime in front of her, and I would like to help make it possible for her to grab it.

(If you’d like to skip the story I’m about to tell and just find out about our sale, go ahead and scroll your happy self on down to the last paragraph here.)

My daughter’s name is Kristen, but since she was about three days old, Kristen has been known as “Pookie” to those who love her. Many variations on this nickname frequently come into play: The Pookster, The Pookinator, and of course the simple “Pook”. Thus, we are calling this little half-baked idea of a rummage sale (yeah, I can admit that) – drum roll please – “Project Pookie Launch”.

Having been born into a family that loved and cared for her, Kristen has not experienced many of the disadvantages that my “strays” have dealt with, but that doesn’t mean she was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, and it certainly doesn’t mean she hasn’t struggled. Her father jumped ship when she was just five and she hasn’t seen him since, so she has grown up in a single-parent home. She’s had health problems for most of her life; I won’t waste too much space on that here, but suffice it to say that she missed a lot of school. She worked hard to keep up, though, and proudly became the first person in her family to graduate high school in over 40 years (yes, that includes me, but my life is another story). This was no small feat, either. In 2007, her junior year of high school, she was hospitalized and we almost lost her. This happened in her second semester that year, and yet she bounced back and worked hard and maintained all her credits. She went on to her senior year and graduated from not just any high school, but a rigorous prep school (listed in Newsweek Magazine that year as one of the top 4% of schools in the country). Did her Momma proud.

Now, let’s back up once more, because this matters: When Kristen was three years old, she took her first trip to Disneyland. It was her reward – for lack of a better word – after she recovered from surgery. This wasn’t because of health problems; she’d been mauled by a pit bull when she was two and a half. See, I told you she’s had a rough time of it!

Anyway, of course she loved Disneyland. Every kid loves Disneyland! But Kristen took a special liking to it, and she’s been passionate about Disney her whole life since. Whenever she’s had an opportunity to get to California, she’s had to spend a day at Disneyland (I don’t even know now how many times she’s been there). All through her teens she continued to regularly watch her favorite Disney movies (The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, in particular), she was the only high school student I knew who still kept her Lion King action figures on display in her room, and for her high school graduation gift she just wanted to go to Disneyland (that wish was granted by her grandparents). My point is that this girl loves Disney!

Pookie is now entering her third year of college, and this is where we get to the fun part of the story. After a long process of applications and testing and interviews, she has been accepted into the Disney College Program, where she will spend a semester working in the Disneyland theme park and taking classes through Disney University. Yay! Once this semester-long internship is completed, she has high hopes that she will be offered the opportunity to stay on with Disney and follow a career path that they’ll help her plan (this is something they do with their successful interns). She wants this very badly – as you can imagine – and plans to put everything she’s got into achieving her goal of a career with Disney. As her mom, of course I want her to reach her dreams and I’ll do everything I can to support her. Everything and anything I can!

But… You knew there’d be a “but”, didn’t you? It’s going to be expensive to get her to Disney. I suppose the word “expensive” is relative, and there may be some of you reading this who’ve had experience with the Disney College Program and did not find it all that difficult to send your bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young student off to seek their dreams. For our family, though, it’s quite costly, and as the time for her to leave draws nearer, it’s really hitting home with us. We are realizing that, without a little boost, we simply don’t have the funds to get her there with all the things she needs. Never ones to give up without a fight, of course we came up with an idea to raise the needed money: We’ll have a rummage sale!

Now, having a little bit of sense in our collective heads around here, we realized that we couldn’t have a successful “normal” rummage sale because this is Phoenix, and it’s summer, and it is approximately 386 degrees outside. Well, I exaggerate, but only a little bit. Anyway, we discussed this, and a light bulb flashed on above my head (I suppose it could have been a heat-related hallucination, but I like to think it was a light bulb, like in cartoons) because I had a great idea. We’d hold the rummage sale in my online booth! Open it up to the world! Local folks can rummage-sale-shop to their heart’s content from the comfort of their own computer screens and then just come pick up the items they’d like, and everyone else can order their items by mail.

Lots of stuff was donated and gathered from far and wide, as well as from right here at home. Items were sorted and dusted, treasures were inspected and photographed, stockings were hung by the chimney with… Wait, that’s a different event. In any case, we put lots of work into it (and are still working!) and now we have the booth loaded with all sorts of goodies. All the variety and different kinds of things you’d find at any “regular” rummage sale, and at genuinely low rummage sale prices!

And so, you are cordially invited to join us for the first, the one and the only… “Project Pookie Launch Online Rummage Sale”!

Here’s the info you’ve been waiting for:

From Saturday 07/31/10 through Saturday 08/14/2010, visit Rummage Rampage, my booth at Bonanzle. Browse the various awesome items and be thrilled at the amazing prices. Then shop, shop, shop! If you live in the Phoenix area, you can ignore the shipping prices shown and just pick your item up in person (if you want, that is). If you live somewhere else, you can select your items and have them mailed to you. In either case, please click on my profile when you arrive (it can be found in each and every listing and on the main booth page). That’s where you will find specific instructions on how to receive discounts, save even more money (gasp!), and possibly get lower shipping rates than those shown. And visit often during the sale dates, because we keep getting and adding more stuff!

See you there! I mean, see you here: Click Here To Visit Rummage Rampage ! J

Friday, July 30, 2010

Zach Bonner - A Twelve Year Old Inspiration!

I just read the greatest story about 12-year-old Zach Bonner and his walk across America (1,950 miles so far, and more to go) to raise money for homeless youth. What an amazing young man. I am in awe. There's not much I can add that isn't already in the New York Times story, so I just wanted to encourage everyone to read it.

Also, take a look at his web site, for The Little Red Wagon Foundation, which he founded when he was only six. The world could certainly use more Zach Bonners.

This is short, but I have nothing more to add; his story speaks for itself. Just kudos to Zach, and I hope everyone will throw some support his way!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Preparing to End a Life Chapter

I’ve been feeling a bit panicky lately over the idea of my daughter moving away, and over the last few days it has really been hitting hard. I think it’s because I sense the month of July coming to an end, and there’s something about the month of August that makes me feel a twinge of desperation. In August she leaves.

Naturally, as this time has been approaching, my mind has had a tendency to wander back over the years and examine her life – and my life with her – in not just a sentimental way (oh, that sentimentality thing is there, but it’s not the only thing), but sort of like I think an artist or an author might look over their work once it’s published or presented to the masses. Second guessing things that are too late to change. Questioning, and maybe sometimes rationalizing, and then repeatedly reaching the conclusion that it doesn’t matter now, what’s done is done. Did I do this right? Did I do that right? Was that the correct approach, the correct way to handle things, the correct message I taught? Did I do too much of something, or too little? Was I a good example? Did I do my job well?

When I reflect, as I am sure millions of moms before me have done in the same circumstance as their first baby leaves the nest, and I feel anxious about my self-evaluation, I just go back to asking myself the same question: Did I do the absolute best I could? I can honestly answer “yes”. And I may continue to pick at it like a scab, test myself, see if I am being really honest with myself, but the answer is still always “yes”. That gives me comfort. I did my best, and no one can do better than their best. So, whatever mistakes I may have made, whatever judgment calls probably should have gone differently in retrospect, whatever choices I might tweak just a bit if I had them to make again, I did do my best. And because I know that, and because I reach that same conclusion no matter how many times I repeat the questions in my head, and because I am secure in it, I can let her go out into the world and feel good about the kind of mom I’ve been.

But then there is this: What will I do without her?

This is, as you canprobably infer from my tone, my firstborn child. I had her when I was just twenty years old, and so it occurred to me – this is the one human being who has been with me for all of my adult life, day in and day out, always there. Her father, my ex-husband, left our family for good when she was only five years old and I was still carrying her brother. So, it was her and me. She was there through everything I’ve gone through, always there.

Now, I was fortunate enough (and I say “fortunate enough” rather than “smart enough” because I really cannot take credit for this – other moms in similar circumstances may not have been given the information I was lucky enough to have received) to know better than to lean on my child for emotional support when her father and I separated and I began the challenging life of a single mother. I’d read it somewhere, or heard it somewhere, or both, that you aren’t supposed to do that. I’dlearned, somewhere or somehow, that children in such situations need to know that you are strong and in control, so I let her see that I was strong and in control. Only in recent times, after she’d reached adulthood, did she begin to hear some of the stories of things I’d been through. She expressed shock at the crises and emergencies and traumas that had been going on right in her own home, with her own mom, while she was blissfully unaware. When she was surprised at these things, I was pleased at that response. It meant I’d done my job. I’d shielded her and protected her from the things that were not her job to handle. I am glad someone told me to do that.

As her departure approaches, though, and I look back, I realize something: Even when I was not leaning on her, she was holding me up. She didn’t even know – nor should she have – how much she was providing for me. She kept me busy and amused and entertained when she was little – kindergarten plays and Halloween costumes can be more therapeutic for a young and struggling mom than any of us may be aware of in the moment. As she got a little bigger, she absorbed from me and shared with me my absolute passion for the holiday season; it was she who was by my side on all of the days webaked cookies, through the tedious but wonderful tradition every year of stringing popcorn and cranberries and edible goodies into a garland to hang outside for the birds in our trees, through the annual hunt for just the right Halloween Tree (that’s another story), through the laughter and the crankiness that came along without fail each year as I covered our home in Christmas lights.

She became a pre-teen and we shared a love of movies, then she became a teen and the movies got better (ha ha). By then she could also tell me when the clothes I was wearing were totally uncool, even though I didn’t care. And she didn’t care that I didn’t care; she liked and accepted me just as I was, in my “mom jeans” and tee shirts, with all my quirks. She was able to teach me how to send a text message (although I only did it once). At age sixteen she shocked me by going into the kitchen and whipping up a batch of brownies that I could never in a million years have topped. I had no idea she’d been watching so closely! And also, I now see, I had no idea how much she was sharing with me, and how much she was growing into my friend.

And now my friend is moving away. She isn’t leaving me and she won’t stop being my friend, of course, but she won’t be sharing my daily life anymore. She won’t be there to tell me if that picture looks good by that door, or watch the bad TV shows that are our “guilty pleasure”, or step up and make her most awesome pot roast to feed the family dinner when I am too tired to cook. She won’t be quietly but firmly hushing the boys into another room when I have a headache (no one knows my headaches quite like she does) or sharing our favorite treat with movies - a big bowl of artery-clogging buttered popcorn with a large bag of peanut M&M’s dumped right into it. I feel the loss approaching, getting closer and closer, each time we do something together for what I fear – rationally or irrationally – will be the last time.

My home will never be empty, that I know. I have my son and my beloved “strays”, my foster son and my pseudo-daughters, and there will surely be even more of them to come. But none will ever be that person who was always there, through everything, keeping me company and being my companion. None will ever know me like she does.

You know what’s funny, in a way? My sadness over her leaving actually makes me happy at the same time. It means that I have managed to nurture the kind of relationship with my daughter that leaves this kind of hole behind when it changes and moves on, the kind of relationship that includes so many things worth missing. And that means they were worth having.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Our cat died today. Well, it's after midnight now, so I guess it was technically yesterday. She was old, it was time, and I guess there isn't really a lot to say. We knew it was getting close, and about four days ago she started to refuse food and water. She stopped purring when someone would pet her, but she still lifted her head to be stroked. For about three days she moved back and forth between a comfortable spot in the bathroom and a dark corner of the closet, but she would slowly get up and come to greet us when we'd come in the room. Clearly she still wanted to be touched.

Today (yesterday) she came out toward the front of the closet and just re-positioned herself there in the doorway. She laid down on her side, and she stayed that way all day. She "spoke" to my son once in the morning (her first and only little "meow" since this began), and then put her head back down. About five hours later he was sitting with her when she let out her last breath.

Here's what is interesting to me: This was my 20-year-old daughter's cat. My daughter has had her since she was five years old, named her after Josie and the Pussycats. Well, now my daughter is preparing to move away from home within the next few weeks. All the buzz around our house lately is about my daughter leaving, everyone is making preparations, everyone is talking about it. One thing she was concerned about was who would take care of her cat, and knowing the cat was old and might not live through the next six months (the earliest my daughter can come home again), worrying about whether she'd see Josie again at all. Well, Josie timed her exit just perfectly. It sounds dramatic, but it really was like ending a chapter in my daughter's life, and Josie's passing being the final closure to the final open plot-line in that chapter. Now my daughter can grieve, and in a few weeks move on to the next stage of her life - her adulthood and career.

Sad, and yet not sad. Two lives that were shared and then parted in an almost synchronized way. Maybe Josie knew it was the right time. That sounds silly, but I'm just saying...

R.I.P. Josie, you grumpy old kitty cat. You'll be missed, and fondly remembered.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Moving this to my new home here, originally posted on my blog on 07/05/2010:

This afternoon – and I don’t recall how it started – my foster son and I got into a heated discussion (not angry, just intense) over the issues of states’ rights, large central government and its boundaries, the American Civil War, property rights, “rule of law” vs. “might makes right” ideologies, the United Nations, politics, the threat of Iran, public schools, and a variety of other however-loosely-related (or not) topics. We went on for hours. I sometimes get frustrated at how darned argumentative he can be. Not that it isn’t interesting to have conversations with him, but he is relentless!

Now, I should mention that I’ve been really stressed out lately. Really stressed out. My hours at work have been cut, my online sales are way down, my ex-husband has stopped paying child support, and I’m not even sure how we are going to pay the bills this month. The dog needs dental work and he’s in a lot of pain. Our house has mice all of a sudden (great). Our roof needs to be fixed. My car started overheating, so I have nothing to drive. My son and I have not been getting along, which causes me so much lost sleep. My grandmother was recently put into a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, the family is all tense about handling her business matters, and everyone is at each other’s throats. I have prescriptions that I’ve been out of for weeks because I can’t afford to refill them. Our dryer is broken. I’m preparing for my daughter to leave for an internship in California, and although it is a wonderful opportunity for her, it’s going to be expensive to get her there. I could go on, and on and on. Stressed.

So, I started to get a little cranky during our discussion. He seemed like he wanted to go on forever. I was getting tired. This was getting on my nerves. Did he think I had nothing better to do? Did I care about the American South’s point of view during the Civil War right now, when I have so much to take care of?

I left the room to go get some work done. When I’d had a few moments alone, grumbling to myself about how irritating and opinionated that young whippersnapper could be, I suddenly remembered and was hit with a cold splash of perspective to the proverbial face.

I remembered when I first met this young man, when he first came to my home back in 2006. He was a high-school dropout, having barely completed his sophomore year, and not having even attended school for the early elementary years of kindergarten through second grade. He spoke street slang exclusively, and I couldn’t even understand half of what he said. He was a drug addict – heavily dependent on cocaine. He sold drugs to support his habit, and he also burglarized homes and stole cars. Although never really actively involved, he had been “jumped” into a gang. He came from a severely abusive home and trusted no one. He admittedly came to our home with the intention of continuing his “street thug” lifestyle, and using us for a place to live for as long as he could get away with it. When I tried to speak to him back then, he openly stated that he could not really trudge up any sympathy for the victims of his crimes, and he didn’t feel he had the capacity to care about people other than himself. He acknowledged having absolutely no ambitions for his life. In keeping with that goal – or lack thereof – he managed to get himself arrested on a fairly regular basis, and calls from the police became part of my daily life.

That was 2006. Now it’s 2010, and this young man is entering his third year at Arizona State University. He’s taking summer classes right now, wanting to stay on track after missing some credits his freshmen year. He has lived with us for four years (still here at the age of 20) and has been “clean” for over three years. There was one exception – a relapse in early 2008 – at which time he called me within minutes to come and get him, scared, not wanting to fall back.

He is respectful and helpful in our home, he writes letters to his former “homies” in prison, encouraging them to turn their lives around. He packs sack lunches with me and helps distribute them to the homeless, often being the “front man” for that sort of project because he is bi-lingual. He bought his own car, which he’s very proud of. He works with me at my cleaning job. Wanting to eventually be accepted to the Herberger School of Music, he takes music lessons – which he pays for on his own – from the best teacher he could find, and drives out to Grady Gammage Auditorium (across town from our house) each week for those lessons. He studies hard, practices hard, and is one of the most driven and motivated people I’ve ever met. He reads books – tons of books. He even reads the newspaper every day.

I thought about all of this, about the changes in this young man from then to now. Amazing changes. And I thought about how I could listen to him argue all day and I would not complain. He has opinions on Congress, foreign policy and whether Plato was a Sophist! How could I forget that at one time he had no opinions about anything? How could I have let it slip my mind that once he had not cared whether he lived or died from one day to the next, nor whether anyone else did? Once he owed a drug debt, now he owes the occasional late library fine.

If an opinionated and stubborn afternoon argument is the worst I get from this kid, I think we’re doing very well. I vow never to grumble about it again.

I Need To Put A Name On This Thing I Do

Moving this to my new home here, originally posted on my blog on 06/18/2010:

Okay, I’m looking for input, thoughts and opinions here. I need to give some form, structure, whatever – and a name – to what I do. Let me start by explaining what my life looks like, and hopefully you’ll get an idea of what it is I’m groping for.

First of all, I am a single mom. I have two children of my own, ages 15 and 20. I also have a 20-year-old foster son who still lives at home, as I am putting him through college. Beyond the presence of myself and my two biological children, the makeup of my household has always been rather “fluid”. I’ve always had a heart for teenagers and young people who don’t have solid and supportive families, and I often take them in when they need a stable home. My foster son, having been with us for almost four years now, has been in our home the longest. Over the years, however, I have had plenty of what I call my “strays” (they know I mean this term lovingly). My “strays” are kids or young people who may or may not have lived with us (most have for some period of time), and for whom I fill sort of a “mom” role, but with whom I’ve never had a legal or biological connection. My foster son is the only “stray” who ever became mine in a legal sense.

I have taken countless young people into my home for varying periods of time, from just overnight to months to years. Prior to my foster son, for example, I had a young lady who lived with us from just before her 18th birthday up until she was almost 21. As a matter of fact, as with most of the “strays” that I have bonded particularly well with, she is still a part of our everyday life – part of the family. She’s here for holidays and birthdays and family get-togethers, she’s here sometimes to do laundry or borrow the car, and she’s someone I can call on when I need help with something or can’t hang a picture straight on the wall. :)

You get the idea.

Anyway, there have been many in our home. Some remain part of the family, some do not. There are also those who have never lived with us, but for whom I’ve tried to be a source of support to the extent that I am able. There is one very young single mother, for example, that I have been working with for about six months now. I’d be happy to have her live with us, but I simply don’t have the room or the proper environment (too many college kids, too many dogs) for small children. You can read about her here: -afloat-562201/

When I am not directly busy with one of my kids or one of my strays, there are other things I do to try and help out the needy, homeless or neglected youth of my community. Some of the activities that I spend most of my days doing include the following:

• I solicit, gather and deliver items (clothing, shoes, backpacks, toiletries, etc.) for Tumbleweed Center For Youth Development (, where I’m on a first-name basis with many of the social workers and the “higher-ups”.
• I maintain a list of resources for youth who are homeless or troubled, and I post this list regularly on my local Craigslist site. The list includes my e-mail for those who might need some individual advice, so I also field those e-mails when they come in.
• I serve as a board member for a local charter school district. I’m not always popular there since I tend to stick up for the more “difficult” students. However, it’s me they often call for advice or input when they have a student in a “situation”.
• My kids and I occasionally work on “special projects”, such as making and handing out sack lunches, or “doing Christmas” for youth who don’t otherwise have a place to spend the holiday (you can also read about that on my blog, which I linked to above).
• Etc., etc., etc. – i.e. whatever I can do.

As you can imagine, all of this can get fairly expensive. When the costs aren’t direct and obvious ones, there are the costs associated with time away from work, gas for running around, etc. I’m just a single mom who works as a church cleaning lady, and although more hours and possibly other opportunities for work might be available to me, I have too much on my plate already and I have to keep my schedule flexible if I’m to continue doing what I do. The kids are my first priority. I make up for the expense of it all by supplementing my income with what basically amounts to a forever-ongoing yard sale (selling on Craigslist and my booth on Bonanzle) that is stocked by items that are either donated by friends and family who are supportive of my “cause” or items purchased at yard sales. I also keep my personal expenses very low. I can pinch Abe Lincoln right off a penny, my friends say. Ha ha! I clip coupons, I pick up most of our household items at garage sales, I don’t have luxury items like a cell phone or a pretty car, and I don’t wear anything that costs more than a dollar. For real, that’s true! LOL!

So, that’s my life. In a nutshell. Now, back to my original question/issue:

I feel like if “what I do” had some sort of a name attached to it, I would be able to do more. I’d like to possibly get a few other moms (perhaps empty-nesters with currently untapped mom skills and free time?) to perhaps meet with me regularly and help out with some of this stuff. I’d like to be able to solicit beyond my circle of friends and family for needed items. I’d like to set up a web site and/or a Facebook page to promote awareness of the issues of homeless and neglected youth, and to maybe publish a running “wish list” of items needed by Tumbleweed and House of Hope (another organization I believe in) and, frankly, to further promote my own online sales so that I can continue and possibly improve what I already do.

A name and some kind of at least loose organization, I think, would lend me a bit of credibility with which to ask for things. Social workers at Tumbleweed have told me from time to time that I should start a non-profit. I don’t think I want to do that, exactly, because the idea brings off-putting images to my mind. I do not want to be bogged down with paperwork and administration, and I don’t want my “strays” to become “clients”. My relationships with them are much more personal than that. Maybe my fears are ill-founded, though? If so, and if anyone reading has experience with this, I’m open to hearing your thoughts.

What I’ve really had in mind is something more like a “club” of sorts. A group where people meet regularly, and anyone can just jump in and help where it’s needed. But wouldn’t I have to register the name somewhere in order to legally own it? And surely the organization – in whatever form – would need to have at least some money to cover costs of activities, projects and whatnot? And, if so, would it not have to be set up as either a business or a non-profit? There come all my fears again…

And that, folks, is the issue that’s on my mind. I need to give “this” a form and a name, but I just don’t know what exactly it is I want or how to set it up and make it work. I don’t want to jump into something very formal and very structured. I basically just want to keep doing what I am already doing, but maybe with a little help from a few others, and with the credibility of a name. Can it be done? I am open to all thoughts, ideas, input and suggestions.

Thank you for reading, and for any replies!