Today, I (This is Janae today, by the way) wanted to take a minute to let you know about one of the non profit entities that I help work on, because it affects YOU. To properly set the stage, I need to take you back about 16 years.
Jon and I had recently been married, and unlike many people that reflect on an easy going first year of marriage, ours just wasn’t. It was hard. I won’t have time to share it all now, in too much detail but I will say this.
We were married in March
We were served papers that spring for our step daughter
Jon had back surgery in a few months later
Through the summer Jon completed a huge retaining wall, and wasn’t paid for any of his time
Kinley, our first baby was born in August
Jon received a mis-filled prescription a few months later
After a month of wondering why my husband was crazy, I noticed him taking the last pill in his bottle, and asked him if that pill looked like the ones he was taking the previous months. I asked because he rarely came home during that month, and when he did and I asked where he had been – he would say “If you are going to be mad at me, I will just leave. I was tired, so I pulled over on the side of the road and slept.”
The truth is, not only was it not his correct prescription, it was opposite what it should have been and triple the dose. Mix this together with the Lortab and Soma that were prescribed by his doctor for a bad back, from the time he was a football player in high school, and it was a recipe for disaster. When he called the pharmacy and explained what the pill looked like, they said “Call poison control, you are in danger!”
Jon spent the next several months coming down off of the meds. If he did it too fast, it could have killed him. Like most people that go through such things, we were thrown into a law suit against the pharmacy to pay for lost wages, business, and vehicles he wrecked while on the meds. We were over run by bill collectors, wanted the money that we owed them from our business that had failed.
They sat on my front porch for hours and knocked while they called me on my phone. I remember having up to four bill collectors at one time trying to get me to pay them money we didn’t have. Another time, I had to cross the Provo River in my back yard to get the baby milk. I was young. I didn’t know they were harassing me.
Fast forward 18 months. Jon had been mostly laying in bed and not working. I was due to have our second baby in May. I was obviously young and naive and remember believing that babies are a happy thing and it wouldn’t be too hard to have another. Two weeks after I gave birth to Whitney, my niece Shauntyl came to live with us. She didn’t have anywhere to go, and would have been turned over to state custody, unless we took her in.
So, if you’re doing the math, that’s four kids in two years and I was 22. We needed help.
We needed food assistance
We needed medical assistance
We needed help with rent (Jon’s parents helped)
We needed support with my neice and we used Wasatch Mental Health two times a week for 4 years.
The list goes on and on.
I remember the first time I used food stamps, and how humiliating that was. I will never forget the feeling of standing in the grocery store line with my food stamps. It was hard enough to swallow the pain of being so reliant on others and then add someone yelling in the line,
“She has food stamps! I don’t know how these work, would everyone waiting in this line move over to the next so we can figure it all out!?”
I am sure she didn’t mean to draw attention to me, but I wanted to melt. We all need help sometimes. it teaches us to be grateful. I will never be the same person after having those experiences. I feel blessed to have had this lesson. Was it easy? NO WAY. Would I want to do it again? Nope. But as I reflect on the place I am in this world today and now, I know that I wouldn’t be the same person.
Together with Jon, our business RBM Services, United Way of Utah County, led by Bill Hulterstrom and driven by Barbara Leavitt – we have brought the Help Me Grow system to Utah. What is Help me Grow you ask? In the most simple terms, it connects resources to families. We utilize the 211 Utah state line and provide help for anybody that needs it.
If you know someone that needs help with food, autism, clothing, step parenting, taxes, grand parenting, special needs children, educational activities, someone to talk to – or ANY OTHER RESOURCE THAT ALREADY EXISTS in your community (you’d be surprised to see that there is help for almost anything), you can call 211 and ask for Help Me Grow and they will CONNECT you. Not only will they connect you, they will call back and make sure you found the services you needed.
I have SEVEN kids, and I never have all the answers. You don’t have to be as down and out as I was my first years of marriage to utilize this service. It is now STATE WIDE and United Way of Salt Lake has also jumped on board, because they see the need for this in Utah. We also bring in the family care physicians and work with them to connect their families in, if they are worried about any delays in speech, physical development, mental development or anything else they can’t follow them home and take care of.
It is SO hard to wrap up the far reaching effects that Help Me Grow has. I have personally seen countless lives changed forever by using the service. It was founded by Dr. Paul Dworkin in Connecticut, and has been proven time and time again through out 22 states now. If there is ANY state that needs it more than anyone, it’s Utah. We have more children than any state. We NEED to support parents and give them the tools to help their children thrive. WE BELIEVE that PARENTS are the ones that KNOW what their children need, and if we can only SUPPORT them through their journey, we will have happy and healthy children.
And then one day, a lady named Barbara Leavitt moved next door to me, and changed my life. She helped me get involved with giving back and I have loved it. She asked me to be “Parent Champion” for the Utah, Help Me Grow. I have a lot of goals for this position, but they will all take time. HERE is an article the HMG National organization wrote about me awhile back. I wish I had access Help Me Grow when I was younger. I felt so alone. I felt lost and didn’t know where to turn. THIS my friends is my WHY. This is why I press forward and share my story. Help me Grow is in half of the states now. I called in just last week to get a referral to something I needed.
If you would like to hold a family event for one of your community groups (in Utah) such as a church or place of business – write me at [email protected] – and I’ll make sure they get you set up. We bring educational and fun games to play, information for parents in a non-threatning atmosphere, volunteers (unless you already have them) and much more. It is the best way to help families around you get connected to resources. I help a family event for my RBM Building Maintenance business. We have around 800 employees, and they had a blast! We made it a Halloween theme, and I had lots of help from the staff at United Way of Utah County to put it on. We also had volunteers from Northstar Alarm come and help. So, bring your vision and we will help you see it through!
With the crazy economy being the way that it is, it has left a lot of our families and friends needing resources to get them back on their feet. Let them know they can call 211 to get help – and have a great day!