Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Call to Action...words of wisdom from the Red Gate Gal ; )

Catchy picture right?  It is a advertisement tin for a brand of coffee.  It's also just what I needed regarding my involvement in politics.  I have to admit that I have been lazy when it comes to doing anything when I disagree with how our country is being ran.  I rant and shake my head like many of you, but do nothing.  Partly because I feel like things are too far gone, but mostly because it takes time to research issues and write your representatives.  I have accepted that my beliefs spiritually and politically make me a minority these days.
I am going to change my behavior this year.  My husband's job was affected by the recent government shut down.  We watched C-Span for updates and he wrote letters to our representatives.  I gave my two cents for him to add to the letters.  But what I should have done is wrote a letter myself.  I have a voice and I vote individually, not with my husband as a family vote.  So this week, I vow to write my representatives as I fear we will be back in the same boat within a few months.
If you have been like me in regards to how to approach your involvement in politics, I am asking you to join me this year and WAKE THE HECK UP!  Start talking, writing, expressing an opinion.  There has been a social etiquette rule for years that you never talk politics or religion at the dinner table.  Well, maybe it's time to start talking.  I've become so frustrated at the state of our country.  I can barely make myself watch the morning news or turn on talk radio anymore.  I used to pride myself  on the fact that I was somewhat educated on current issues.  Now I'm finding that I just want to put a wall around our farm and stay in my own little world.  I am trying to fight these feelings and use my voice to exhaust my frustrations.
I left home when I was twenty with just a few hundred dollars (my choice).  My father paid for my college, but I fell in love (so I thought), dropped out of school and moved to TN.  My fiancĂ© and I only had one car.  I rolled pennies for gas and obtained a job as reception making barely above minimum wage.  I even made barbecue sauce out of ketchup and mustard one time because I could not afford to buy the real stuff, YUCK!  I've spent hours on end washing clothes at dirty Laundromats.  I had to borrow a suit to go on my first "real" job interview.  The apartment I lived in was older and when you turned out the lights at night, the roaches seriously partied.  I hated my circumstances and knew I would work hard to change them.  During lean times, I cleaned repossessed mobile homes which to this day is the nastiest job I ever had. 
As the years passed, I worked hard and listened when given advice.  My circumstances sure did change and I climbed the corporate ladder.  I went from rolling pennies and cleaning nasty homes to becoming Program Manager for the Department of Homeland Security's 50 million dollar uniform program.  This job required me to spend many hours on the road meeting with government liaisons and outfitting agents in the Customs and Border Protection Agency.
For twenty years I have worked on and off in the employment industry and held various management positions.  I have watched a decline in our society from a work ethic and morale standpoint.  The folks I dealt with were $8.50-$13.00 an hour factory workers and $10.00-$17.00 clerical workers. In 2008 when we began to fall into our most recent recession, I really wanted to make an impact to help the thousands of people in the community for which I worked find employment.  I was a manager of a staffing agency in Middle Tennessee and had a real opportunity to connect the unemployed with employers in our area beyond my normal 8-5 job requirements (which were primarily sales). 
I began to build a relationship with the local career center.  I volunteered time to speak quarterly at their weekly program called Career Connections.   This program allowed workers in transition to receive education regarding job search skills and to meet a local employer who was hiring.  A huge advantage when so many jobs are posted online these days with no face to face interaction.  At this same time the number of weeks that an individual could draw unemployment increased from 13 weeks to 99 weeks over a period of a few years. 
I also offered to each group I spoke to a 45 minute private session with me to discuss their individual job situation, ask questions or get help with their resume.  I coordinated an event at our church for the unemployed that brought in speakers and offered networking opportunities.  I sat on mock interview boards at the local technical school   This allowed me an opportunity to provide a student interview practice, but I could also give feedback to assist them on their "real" interviews in the future.  Relationships were built with local organizations that supported welfare and Department of Human Services clients.  On several occasions I spent my lunch hour at a local library helping United Way participants develop resumes. One of my final volunteer opportunities was to accept an appointment as a Board Member for a local ministry.  To this day, although no longer working full time, I continue to work with those who are in a lower income bracket through this ministry.
The above volunteer and work activities listed above are not a "kudos" to my efforts, but an outline of my background to show that I have witnessed first hand our society moving to an entitlement society.  Too many times, individuals would show up at a job fair or a speaking event only to tell me they were needing to find a job because their unemployment was running out.  When asked what they had been doing to find a job, the answer was usually "nothing I've been on unemployment".  I saw far too many people who had solid work histories become dependent and their work ethic declined. 
One of the most common questions I was asked when I spoke to groups who were in career transition was, "As a recruiter, what do you think about people who are drawing unemployment?".  My answer was, "Unemployment support was meant as a TEMPORARY supplement until new employment was secured".  The problem is that unemployment wages became the SECURED NEW EMPLOYMENT as extension after extension was approved.  During the 4 year period I'm referencing, there were jobs available.  I struggled to find workers for the jobs I had opened, both clerical and industrial workers.
Although beginning in 2012, I started my own business I still took contract work with my previous employer.  I spent 15-20 hours per week recruiting candidates from online job sources.  Some weeks I would contact 200-300 potential candidates to speak with them about opportunities.  Only 15%-20% of those would call me back or respond by email.  As we listen to the media we are told we are in an employment crisis????  Another problem facing the unemployed is that too many of our 20-30 year olds have criminal backgrounds.  The majority of employers require a pre-employment background check.  The number of individuals with felony and misdemeanor convictions has increased since the early 90's when I started in staffing.  You then begin to have conversations  with candidates who blame you because they are out of work and cannot pass a criminal background.
Recently during the government shut down I was working a project in the Middle TN area.  I would have C-Span on in the background while I scanned resumes on the computer.  As I would reach candidates on the phone, I found the vast majority did not want to take work and were extremely picky about opportunities even though they had been out of work for months.  Starting at the bottom and working your way up is a concept/work ethic that has been forgotten.  Working multiple jobs and long hours is not even considered as an option to this group of folks.  They want it fast and easy.
When you've been allowed to draw an unemployment check for almost two years, why should you be motivated to do anything differently?  If you can enroll in programs that support your food, daycare, cellphone, utility needs and vast other government programs, why should you be motivated to do anything differently?  We no longer foster a society that receives the reward of satisfaction after a hard day's work.
Government cannot continue to support the growing segment of our population who is unmotivated to take care of themselves.  Increased unemployment support, welfare and government health care are just a few examples of government programs that create an entitlement society.  These programs lend no encouragement or foster those who take advantage of them to be independent.
To be fair, I met and helped many wonderful people during this time.  People who had that spark of motivation and a desire to do for themselves.  Unfortunately, those success stories were not the "norm" for my day to day interactions.  When given the opportunity to participate in the programs that would develop better work and life skills, there were few takers.  If an organization I was involved in offered something free, the doors would burst at the seams.
When I relay my experience to others if the topic of the state of our country comes up, the response I receive is shock and disbelief.  My audience questions why the media reports things so differently.  SO....WAKE THE HECK UP!  Get involved, ask questions of your representatives, write to them and do something.  I for one will be this year.  No's taken me 3 hours to write this in between normal morning activities with a 7 month old.  Git'r done folks!
I welcome comments and opinions as long as they are not NASTY/HATEFUL.  We all have different experiences and education and varying areas.  I'm always willing to learn and keep an open mind. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Year In Review

It's been over a year since I have added a blog entry.  I have debated several times whether to keep this blog open or go ahead and close it.  I've learned over the years as with my journal writing, creativity comes and goes.  Life happens, mellows and drops you off a cliff sometimes.  You just roll with the punches. Needless to say, I decided to keep it open.

When I looked at the date of my last blog entry, it was one month before we took our grandson and great nephew to Colorado for their 13th birthday.  Little did I know, that trip would produce one of my greatest joys in life...Sophie (3/18/13).  As I am writing this, I watch her jumping in her Exersaucer stopping long enough to stare me down until I notice her.  I then receive the sweetest smile and she goes back to jumping and spinning again.

To say the last year has been a whirlwind of activities is an understatement.  I experienced the highs and lows of pregnancy and childbirth.  We completed our 2nd CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) season.  Red Gate Farm was featured in our local newspaper and allowed us to contribute an article titled "Healthy Connections to Our Food".  To top it all off, we built our dream home with the most amazing sunset view.  I guess I'll also add that I reached a milestone and turned the big "40" in September.  There, done...I said it...I'm 40! : )

I am looking forward to a slower pace year for 2014.  I am excited about watching our daughter grow and develop her own little personality.  Heaven help us all if she gets even a little of her Mom and Dad's type A!  We will be adding a chicken and beef option to our CSA season which is exciting.  These added options will allow our customers to not only receive produce from us, but eggs, poultry and beef. 
Hang in there with me this year as I try to get back to my blogging.  God is good and has blessed us beyond measure.  We know that we are nothing without his grace.  All that we have is his and we pray for him to give us the wisdom and tools to be good stewards of his gifts.
If you are in the Middle Tennessee area and would like to check out our farm, feel free to message me at  Our CSA memberships sell out quickly each year.  We'd love to add you to the Red Gate Farm Family!