For those of you not following along, please read the previous installment of Sammy’s Story. The short version is that we’re thinking about helping someone launch a small business and put “at risk” teenagers and young adults to work.
Sammy called me a couple of days ago. He wanted to discuss working for some of the tools and toys he saw at my mother-in-law’s house and he said he had something to show us. When I picked him up, he had a leather portfolio-style notebook and looked excited.
When we got to the house, he opened up his notebook and handed me two pieces of paper. He said that the idea of being able to launch his business had him so excited that he couldn’t not do anything. He had handed me a landscaping plan and materials list for fixing my mother-in-law’s yard.
We talked about the landscape plan, the business plan, and my wife’s old skateboard, then he had to go. Last night was one of the nights he met “his” kids at a community center.
On the way to the community center, we stopped by his apartment, because he wanted to show me pictures of his kids, and his grandkids, and his foster mother. He told me about his mother dying when he was 13 and his father dropping him with an aunt before disappearing. He was nearly in tears when he asked how some strange white guy could see more in him than his own family did.
He told me about how the money he made working with me had put food on the table of the 14 year old he brought with–a 14 year old who is eager to work more. It paid the weekly rent for one of the other workers and contributed to the rehab of Sammy’s ex. The little bit we’ve done has already touched the lives of dozens of people.
We talked about the way he hates rap. Not because of it’s musical value, but because it’s building a culture that considers women to be nothing but “bitches and hoes” while convincing kids that the only way they can improve their situation is to land a recording contract. Those are the kids he wants to teach to take care of themselves and build their own lives.
Finally, he asked me for my honest opinion about his landscaping plan.
I said, “Sammy, that clinched the deal. I was leaning towards helping you, but now it’s definite. I know you’re serious, so we’re going to make this happen.”
He’s got no idea how to handle taxes, payroll, or insurance, and he has no tools, but we’re going to jump in with both feet.