Help Multiplied

You can help homeless and other low income people learn how to earn an income even if they can’t find a job.  If you want to skip all the background stuff in the blog, go to

http://tinyurl.com/TOPwerxCampaign

If we reach our funding goal, we have cool rewards for everyone who pledges.  It’s a win-win-win situation.

We return you to the not-so-regularly-scheduled blog.

About ten years ago I had a conversation with a homeless man named John who told me he had just been turned down for another job.  He had been job hunting for two years after he finished serving his time on a felony charge.  It turns out that conviction was a life sentence that was keeping him from landing a job.  I remember he threw his hands up in the air and said, “Man, I can’t even get a job at McDonalds!”

John’s predicament is not unique.  My friend Kevin faces the same situation.  He served 5 years in prison on a bank robbery charge.  His prospects are bleak to say the least.  And so I developed a passion for finding a way to help people like John and Kevin earn an income even if they can’t find a job. It had to meet the following criteria:

  • It must be something that a person without much education can do
  • It must be something that is simple and can produce reliable income without a long learning curve.
  • It must be supported by a community of people who are already working the business successfully
  • It must pass the “Quick Test” of successfully producing income within 30 days.

It took over a decade of discovering what didn’t work, but I finally found it.  We call it TOPwerx.  It meets all of the criteria and passed the “Quick Test” with flying colors.

The business model is based on buying products to sell through online channels such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy.  We sold scores of products in 7 different market niches through 9 months of research and turned a healthy profit on everything we sold.

Now, we are seeking support to begin our training program with up to 5 students in the first year. We hope to expand the training in Washington, DC and throughout Virginia. TOPwerx is designed to be completely self-sustaining within two years.

 Project Details – Curriculum

The curriculum will be video-based and replicable. It will be divided into five phases.

Phase I: Get Your Head in the Game – students will have to demonstrate the right mindset in order to progress in the curriculum.  We focus on eliminating entitlement mentality, developing a can-do attitude and teaching our students to think like business owners, not employees.

Phase II: Your Tool Box – Students will receive basic training in computers and thorough training in the use of the smart phones and apps they will need to be successful.  In this phase, we plan to utilize youth volunteers as mentors to help students master the technology. Since this is all hands-on training, there will be no real development costs for it.

Phase III: Getting Started – Here we begin with the nuts and bolts of the business.  Students will learn what to sell, where to sell it, how to list their products, how to ship inventory and how to track sales and profits.

Phase IV: Advanced Sourcing and Selling Techniques – There are lots of ways to get products to sell profitably. Sorry, but these are trade secrets that will give our students an edge in the marketplace.  I think we’ll just keep them a secret

Phase V: Mind Your Own Business – The final phase will teach students how to manage their cash flow, keep accurate records, taxes, licenses, insurance and other paperwork related to their business.

We have obtained a license for a powerful, existing curriculum we will use for Phases III and IV.  Our students will also become part of a community of other people involved in this business, which will be critical for their success.

By the time they finish the course, they will have a successful business.  TOPwerx staff will provide support for students after they graduate to ensure their long-term success.

How You Can Help

Just click the above link to the TOPwerx Funding Campaign on StartSomeGood.com for details on how you can be a part of this movement.  We have a long way to go!  We can use all the pledges, prayers and shares we can get.

God’s grace to you,

Steve Jennings, Executive Director

 

Open the Door and Walk Down the Street

For the first time, Teens Opposing Poverty has coordinated a week-long mission outreach to the homeless in Washington, DC.  Part of the week’s activities included visiting other organizations that work poor and homeless people.

 We visited So Others Might Eat (SOME) and DC Central Kitchen. Both of these organizations do incredible work for the poor and homeless.  DC Central Kitchen provides 5,000 meals a day that are served through a variety of soup kitchens, Meals on Wheels and other programs.  They also have a training program that moves people from homelessness to employment (at a living wage) in the food service industry.  SOME has a soup kitchen, food pantry, clothes closet, low income housing, a warehouse full of furniture and other essential items and a long-term rehab program, along with providing medical, dental and mental health care.

 The people who took us on our tours were passionate about what they do and totally focused on their mission. 

 That is a good thing and a not-so-good thing.

 It’s good because passion and focus on your mission may be the only motivations to carry you through tough times when you are in the nonprofit world. It also keeps all of us who work with an organization or ministry on track.   I am often the same way with TOP, and it has been an important reason why we have stayed alive during the lean seasons.

 But that kind of focus can also be a negative.  We (fingers pointing back to me) too readily put on blinders and fail to connect with our fellow servants.  Thus we often re-invent the wheel, creating unnecessary duplication of services. 

 I’ve had people suggest that we do all sorts of things to combat poverty from job training to setting up day centers for the homeless to transitional housing.  In my wild imaginings I picture TOP doing those things. But other people are already doing that, and it’s not our mission.  We are often the first point of contact for the people we serve.  Our job is to encourage them, find out what keeps them on the street, and point them to the resources that help them into a new life.

 Getting to know other organizations helps us to do a better job of fulfilling our mission and opens our eyes to new possibilities in how we serve others. A fringe benefit of this interaction is that we learn things that help us do a better job of running the organization.

 If you’re involved in a church or nonprofit organization, I challenge you to open the door and walk down the street to other churches and nonprofits and groups who serve the people you serve.  Learn what they do and how they do it.  Don’t be afraid to form partnerships and cross referrals.  Every once in awhile take off the blinders of passion for your own organization and learn a little from others. You’ll be glad you did.

 God’s grace to you

Steve Jennings

www.TeensOpposingPoverty.org