Jeri Stroade with Dwell Mobile

Jeri Stroade with Dwell Mobile

On this week’s podcast, Marcus sits down with Jeri Stroade. From growing up in small farm town in Kansas to developing a heart for the displaced, she finds herself helping a special group of people right here in Mobile, AL. Tune in to hear about where she came from, her greatest life lessons, and her current role as the Executive Director at Dwell Mobile.


Jeri: I'm Jeri Stroade, I'm the Executive Director of Dwell Mobile, it's a non-profit in Mobile that helps refugees.

Marcus: Awesome. Jeri it's good to have you on the podcast today.

Jeri: It's good to be here.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jeri: Thank you.

Marcus: Now, I've learned a little bit about the area in which you operate and so I'm glad that we're getting, this will be able to shine kind of a light on something that people may or may not understand. But before, we get into all of that as part of this podcast we like for people to know a little bit about the person behind the effort. And so, why don't you tell us a little bit about who you are and where you're from, where'd you go to high school, college if you went, are you married? Just give us some backstory.

Jeri: Okay. Well, I'm from Kansas, so the Midwest not the south. And I went to high school in a town called Pretty Prairie Kansas.

Marcus: Gotta love Kansas for those names.

Jeri: Yes, you do.

Marcus: Yes.

Jeri: And it was named after an old Mennonite woman who when she came through she said, "Oh my, what a pretty prairie."

Marcus: Pretty Prairie Kansas.

Jeri: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcus: I can imagine the graduating class was quite large at your high school.

Jeri: Yes, yes. No, I think 27.

Marcus: Oh my gosh.

Jeri: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcus: Wow.

Jeri: Yeah. So, the town was 600.

Marcus: My graduating class had more people than your town had in it. We had I think close to 700 people in our graduating class.

Jeri: Wow. Yep.

Marcus: Our high school was close to 4,000 people.

Jeri: Wow, yeah.

Marcus: So, yeah.

Jeri: Yeah, it was very small.

Marcus: Anyway.

Jeri: I moved around growing up and moved back there in high school and I was a little scared about how small it was, but I loved it. And went to college at Kansas State.

Marcus: Very good.

Jeri: University. From there got a degree in agricultural economics.

Marcus: That's useful.

Jeri: It is useful actually. It's very useful. I do use it all the time, you would never think that but I do.

Marcus: Speaking as somebody who has an English degree.

Jeri: Ha, ha.

Marcus: So, I'm similarly useful.

Jeri: Right, right. Yeah, you have people when you tell them that degree that everywhere from they don't have any clue what you do to, "Oh, you should know a little bit about everything because that sounds like a very useful degree."

Marcus: Yeah.

Jeri: I'm single, no family here, family back home.

Marcus: Back home.

Jeri: But, yeah.

Marcus: Still in Pretty Prairie?

Jeri: No, Manhattan now. Manhattan, Kansas.

Marcus: Oh, wow. Okay.

Jeri: Where Kansas State is.

Marcus: That's a far stretch from Pretty Prairie.

Jeri: Oh my goodness.

Marcus: Manhattan? Phew. You gotta love it when states name a city or a town after like a major metropolitan area. I mean like Manhattan, you're like, "Oh, yeah they're in Manhattan but it's Kansas." You know, population 1,200.

Jeri: That's right.

Marcus: You know. So, how in the world first of all did you find yourself in Mobile, and then starting a non-profit?

Jeri: Well, I never thought I would be in Mobile. You know, a funny story about Mobile. I came down here for a conference for Ag Economics. I had like a paper in it and it was down at the ...

Marcus: Convention Center?

Jeri: ... Convention Center.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jeri: And I went down, presented, came back and somebody said, "How'd you like it?" And I guess, I do not remember saying this but I guess I said, "Oh, it was nice but I would never want to live there." And this girl reminded me of that when I decided to move here. She said, "Do you remember when you said this?" Which, no.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jeri: My degree was in Ag Economics, International Development.

Marcus: Okay.

Jeri: Emphasis, and so I kind of thought I'd be overseas working with like a US Aid type of thing or something like that. And just sort of my path changed a little, I started getting interested in refugees before anybody really knew what they were, and even kind of myself. But I had always kind of had a heart for the poor, had a heart for different cultures, and it seemed to mesh that way. And then basically I came down here because friends of a friend had started this church and did this international student stuff down here. And so, I was looking at what they were doing and I liked what they were doing. I was ready to move away a little bit an I thought, "I'm going to go try that." And that was seven years ago. I didn't expect to be here this long.

Marcus: Wow.

Jeri: Yeah.

Marcus: Yeah, no, it's funny how at times the very thing in which you don't expect to happen is exactly what happens.

Jeri: Right. And I love what I'm doing. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else so it's funny to me because I would have never put myself here in doing what I'm doing.

Marcus: Well, I mean you kind of answered what is normally my next question. So, I usually ask, what was your first job and were there any lessons that you still remember from that? And I guess that still applies. You talked a little bit about how you found yourself in Mobile and starting this non-profit, but go back in time to ... Do you remember your first job?

Jeri: My first job ever?

Marcus: Yeah.

Jeri: It was probably babysitting.

Marcus: Like, no, I mean your first job outside of the normal.

Jeri: Like professional job?

Marcus: I normally tell people, think of around when you were 15, 16, 17 years of age.

Jeri: Okay.

Marcus: And you were flipping burgers or making sandwiches somewhere, that job.

Jeri: Okay. My job was I drove a wheat truck.

Marcus: A wheat truck?

Jeri: Yes.

Marcus: In Kansas.

Jeri: Because I was in Pretty Prairie Kansas.

Marcus: Yes, I love it.

Jeri: And everybody farmed.

Marcus: No, that's cool.

Jeri: So, I wanted a summer job and you could make a lot of money. You worked a lot because you had harvest and everything.

Marcus: Right, yeah.

Jeri: And there was this guy, he was like the head of our youth group sponsor or whatever and he said, "Yeah, you can come work for me." And so, I drove a wheat truck for him.

Marcus: Very cool. Now, were there any lessons that you learned out of that first job that you've carried with you?

Jeri: I mean, the typical one that I mean it's true, is hard work. There wasn't anything harder than sitting out there waiting. You would sit out there and then you'd work 12, 13, 14 hour days and come back and do it again the next day. I think overall I ended up working for him for like a full, that was just during harvest and then I ended up working for him for a full summer, and he was very gracious to me. I would sometimes drive through the wrong field or mess up his equipment, like hit it on the elevator when I went through, so I wasn't the best wheat truck driver. But he was always very ... I mean I think he got a little irritated but he was always very gracious and generous, and so patient. And so, I feel like I carry that with me now of even for myself being patient with myself when I mess things up. But also trying to be patient with other people I'm working with.

Marcus: You know it's interesting because I don't know that I've ever explained why I ask that question. Well, one of the reasons why I ask that question is because of how you just answered. So, you talk about the patience and generousness of this man and how you still carry that with you, well that is the intention behind this. And also just to get business owners thinking about, well if you're hiring people they carry those lessons that you provide to them into their life. And how you impact their life can either be a positive impact or it can be a really negative impact because I think we've all worked for people where it's just like, "How was this person even born? They're just horrible individuals." So, I'm appreciative of how you answered because it is very true. Those lessons, they're oftentimes carried with us into our professional careers and into our adult lives.

Jeri: Yeah.

Marcus: Right?

Jeri: That's good.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jeri: It's good for me to remember at this point of I'm on the other end now where people are working for me in different capacities.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jeri: So, it's good.

Marcus: Especially anybody that's working with interns or young people of any kind. It is a testing of your patience to deal with young individuals because oftentimes they don't have the skill set and they're coming to you basically for on the job training.

Jeri: Yeah.

Marcus: Anyway. So, how did you get started as Dwell? And do you call it Dwell or Dwell Mobile?

Jeri: Both.

Marcus: Both? Okay, so I'll just refer to it as Dwell.

Jeri: Yeah, that's good.

Marcus: How did you get started as Dwell?

Jeri: When I came down here I worked with a group of people called All Nations Community Church and they had an international church. And my question was, do you do anything with refugees? And they said, "Oh, we want to." So, I came down to help them start an outreach for refugees. And as I got into it I saw the guy I worked with was very wise and said, "Why don't you just go listen to them? Get to know them and listen to what they need." And so, I did that and I heard, "We need relationship." And so I started thinking, "How can this group of people, the church, build relationships with this group of people, these people coming as refugees?" And so, as I got into that I saw several things, one of them was it takes a lot to help one family who's coming here. They need a lot. The other one was, so many people I started meeting in Mobile, like outside of that little church, it was little, didn't even know there was refugees here, but they wanted to be involved.

Marcus: So, pause there for a second, and I'm going to mess this up. From my understanding is that Mobile is one of x number of communities around the United States that refugees are regularly sent to.

Jeri: That's right. I don't know the x number.

Marcus: Okay, you don't know the x number either? I wanted to say that it was like one of 12 or 20 or something. I mean it's not a large number of communities that get refugees.

Jeri: It's the only city in Alabama.

Marcus: Okay.

Jeri: I know that.

Marcus: And so, I know a little bit about this in the sense that I know that when a refugee family is brought here there are cultural differences, how do they integrate themselves, how do they learn the language oftentimes? They don't know how to get around? You start thinking about if anybody's traveled overseas, that's just going for a vacation and oftentimes you have a lot of disposable income and you're going over and you can pay people to overcome your shortcomings as a member of their society. But when you're thinking about somebody who doesn't have a lot coming here. So, how do you all work with those types of folks to help them integrate?

Jeri: Right. When they come they get resettled by an agency, there's nine different ones around the US that have said, "We'll resettle refugees." We are not one of them, it's like Catholic Charities is the one here in Mobile. And so, they get six to nine months of help through Catholic Charities. So, Catholic Charities sets them up with an apartment, gives them a case worker, helps them get a job, helps them get enrolled in school, things like that. We step in kind of at the end after that's over. And so, if you can imagine, I often tell people that too of just like going to a new place where you have to learn the language, any professional skills or training you've had in your former life don't apply here. And then you have to restart over, how long that would take you. And so, we're looking more in the development world. There's a relief and there's development. And sort of like Catholic Charities provides the relief and the start. We look more at trying to provide the development like helping them. And so, one of the things that we do see ... We do several things but a lot of what we do is based in the relationships, that we try to help people ...

Marcus: Yeah, it can be very lonely thing to move.

Jeri: Yes. And they're often coming from places were community is so much more important than here. So, that's what I hear a lot. Like I just heard, I don't know I got an email a few weeks ago and we had, had this cultural night. This guy emailed and said, "Thank you ..." He had just arrived in February and this was in March, he's from somewhere in Africa. And he said, "For the first time in my life since coming to Mobile I have been lonely. And I want to thank you for everything you're doing because for the first time in a month me and my family felt connected to people when we came to this event you guys had."

Marcus: Yeah, that's amazing.

Jeri: Yeah. And I think and I'm seeing this of if you ... We do some other things too, some other like practical things, but that relational network when they're come especially from those cultures, that provides a structure. And you're out there on your own, you left, you went through all these circumstances to get here and then you get here and you're on your own again. And so, if you can provide some relationship stuff, that helps them to feel like they have the network they need to try things. And helps with depression, it helps with a lot of things that in our society I think a lot of times we have a fear of some of these people. And so, one of the things that connection can help with, if there is a reason to be afraid of them being radicalized they won't.

Marcus: Right.

Jeri: If they feel connected to their community.

Marcus: They have a familiarity and a connection then they're not going to go in that direction.

Jeri: Yeah.

Marcus: I know that this is news now because for years refugees have been coming here and nobody really said anything about it. And granted at some level it was a little bit scary just because of the sheer number of people that could have been brought. And there have been some issues in other countries where you bring in so many people into one area and it changes the culture of that area. Putting all that aside, that's not happening here.

Jeri: Right.

Marcus: And so, doing our best as a country that has a good heart and has a lot to offer, whether it's welfare or education or whatever just being good stewards of that and sharing it with those people that we've brought here, it's cool that you guys have kind of taken on that mantle to kind of help onboard them, to borrow a technolgoy term, we're onboarding you into the American way. That sounds like such a horrible thing to say but hey, it fits, you know. So, anyway, that's very cool that you do that.

Jeri: Yeah. And I think one of the things as you're talking about some of that, that I'm thinking about is so many of the people that we talk to and we help we hear from them that they know their lives will not actually be better here. You're talking about acclimating and everything, but they have hope for their children.

Marcus: Right.

Jeri: And so, they've come and they've left. And these are people who I think that it's important to make the distinction, they have come through the UN, they've been in a refugee camp for five to seven years, they've gone through in all total one and a half to two years of screening, you know vetting.

Marcus: Right.

Jeri: So they didn't just wander here.

Marcus: Right. They didn't land here on a boat.

Jeri: Right. And so many of them come because of they see that it's an opportunity, they have opportunities here for their children that they wouldn't have.

Marcus: Yeah, and we're often times talking about doctors and lawyers and professional people that you're saying they know that their lives aren't going to be better off but they're hopeful that their children are. You know they're coming here and giving up often times what they fought so hard for as their livelihood and their accepting a lesser position in life because they know that the opportunities that their children are going to have. And interesting to me because I often talk about the immigrant mentality. My father came here with the Peace Corp in the 60's if I remember correctly.

Jeri: He came here?

Marcus: Came here with the Peace Corp in the 60's. And it's hard for me to recognize the difference in how he raised me because I was raised by him, so I don't know any different, but the truth is that there's something very different about the immigrant mentality when you come to the United States, there's all the acclimation and stuff like that. Now, he came to teach Portuguese to people that were in the Peace Corp because they were going to Brazil in order to help people. And so he had some ability in language and stuff like that, so he didn't have that issue but he did, I'm sure there was some periods of ... I've been to the town where he grew up, there ain't nothing there.

Jeri: In Alabama?

Marcus: No, so my father in Brazil.

Jeri: Oh, in Brazil.

Marcus: I've been to the town that he's from in Brazil and no offense Dad if you're listening to this but even I guess it was 30 years or so ... when did I go? It was like 1990, so it was like 30 some odd years later, there still wasn't anything there.

Jeri: Wow. Yeah.

Marcus: It's a little salt mining town in Brazil in the North Eastern tip. And so, I can only imagine what it was like for him to come to the states. I think he landed if I remember correctly in Upstate New York and then he kind of migrated to Ball State, went to school got his undergrad and part of his Master's degree at Ball State, and then ended up moving out to DC. But all that to say is, I have discussions with people and I very much can tell somebody who was raised by parents who are not of the United States versus somebody that was raised ... there's this scrappiness like this understanding like, you have got to ... And it's not all, I'm generalizing, but the immigrants often times they have sacrificed a lot to be here so there's a lot of pressure put on the children because there was so much sacrifice.

Jeri: Right. Well, and I'm not first, second, third generation but I think about a lot of times, I think about the difference between a Mid West culture and a Southern culture.

Marcus: Oh absolutely.

Jeri: Because I moved here. But, in the Mid West there was always this pioneering type of thing that's going on because that's the people who moved there.

Marcus: Right.

Jeri: The people who had to go settle the land and all this stuff. And actually statistically like it's real the percentage of immigrants that start their own ... you probably know this. The percentage of immigrants that start their own business is higher than the percentage of native born Americans, and then also the percentage of refugees within that is higher.

Marcus: Right.

Jeri: And so, you think about there's a, yeah I guess that pioneering spirit because yes these people have left because they were forced in some ways to leave but there's people who stayed too.

Marcus: Right.

Jeri: And so, if they're forced to leave then they have that ... I mean it's probably sort of a make it or break it, you have to, but also just some of the people I've met and I work with is just like they're just always thinking, "Oh, you could do this. You could do this as a business. You could do this. You could do this."

Marcus: Right.

Jeri: And that's one of the things and reasons I'm doing what I'm doing is because even more so after I've gotten into it I see, like I feel like our society is missing out on the richness that they have to offer us, if we put them in this box and stick them over here.

Marcus: Right.

Jeri: Like our mission statement is providing opportunities for refugees to thrive. Like, if we don't do those things then our society I think is missing out.

Marcus: Right. Well, and I think there's a lot to learn. I will say that the one thing that I have very much appreciated about the South is their focus on family.

Jeri: Yes.

Marcus: Right. And so, growing up in the Northern Virginia area it was a very transient area and often times people were moving there because of a job and they weren't moving there because their family was there. They were just passing through, they were going to spend three to five years and then they were moving on to wherever they were going to be stationed next. And so, there's not a big web if you will of extended family but here in the South there, and so, I very much appreciated that. So, what I'm about to say does not apply here but there's a lot to be learned from those other cultures and about the importance of family and the importance of that foundation.

Jeri: Yeah.

Marcus: And so, I think it's cool that not being from the South but you're giving them, you're showing them the Southern hospitality that this area's known for.

Jeri: Right. And one of the things ... I agree. And one of the things that has struck me about working here in Mobile specifically is how much of the focus is on family and so, there's several people I've worked with over the years, both refugees and Mobilians that you bring somebody to visit, which they love it when people come to visit their homes. But sometimes you get a family and you bring that American family to visit and you're bringing like 10 people because you have the kids and the sisters and the whatever. And there's been times that I sit there and I look at it in these little apartments and I'm thinking, "Oh, we're eating too much of their food," or, "Oh, we're really making a mess," or, "We're filling up their apartment, and it's probably too loud for them." And then I have to remember like, "No, they're from somewhere where they have seven sisters and you would visit them every day but they're not there anymore." And so I do think that's a very unique strength that Mobile and the South has as far as welcoming people is like, you bring the whole family and you welcome them as a family, and that's how they think.

Marcus: Yeah, absolutely.

Jeri: Yeah.

Marcus: Alright so we're going to get back on track because I have these questions but I'm just so fascinated by what you really like. Yeah, I'm just wanting to dive into it. If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started and running their own non-profit ...

Jeri: Okay.

Marcus: ... what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?

Jeri: These are the hard ones.

Marcus: Oh yeah.

Jeri: The one bit of wisdom? As I have done this and gotten to know myself more, I know I'm the visionary person, which means I'm the person that's not the best at details.

Marcus: Sure

Jeri: So I think a bit of advice that I would say is, one, you can do it. You know if you're the visionary, if you find yourself like that, because sometimes I get paralyzed cause I think, "Oh there's this huge vision," and I don't even know how to start by making it happen. No, that's not true, break it down into little pieces and do a little bit of a plan and take that next step, and you will have something before you know it. The other thing would be to get a team of people around you, or one, or two people around you who agree with your vision who are good with the details, and then educate yourself. There's so many things when you start some thing that it's just like, "Oh, there's this whole other world of this or whole other world of this," and if you know a little bit you realize how much you don't know. And I think more and more going forward I need to find people who know those things more than, "Oh, I need to just know about everything."

Marcus: Yeah, there's this as you're bootstrapping something, to borrow a business term, as you're bootstrapping something there's often times the necessity to go out and learn things because you don't have the ability to have somebody handle something. But as you grow it's more important, the velocity with which somebody else can just execute on something and you hand that off as a responsibility is much more important than you actually learning everything about it and executing it. It's a switch as an organization matures. And there was something else that you said in there about being a visionary. And often times in the business world the visionary is the CEO.

Jeri: Right.

Marcus: And so, your description is, well the Executive Director is really that role as the CEO of a company. And so, if somebody is a visionary then that's perfectly fine, as a matter of fact starting and running an organization is probably what God intended for you to do. But you also need to be cognizant of who it is that you are and find other people like you were describing that buy into the vision and have them help you execute on the details.

Jeri: Right.

Marcus: So, now it's perfect.

Jeri: Yeah. And the thing I'm noticing now as we're growing, which I don't know if this is going to get into other questions, but, is the structure of it the more I don't get excited about structure, but the more I see that we can have some of that, that doesn't suck the life out of the organization, like a good structure that it will take stress off of me.

Marcus: Exactly.

Jeri: Because then it's not on your shoulders it's on the structure that you're building.

Marcus: Right. No, most definitely. I even tell the team here when I hire people it's because I'm hiring them to take over something that I am just not having time to do.

Jeri: Yeah.

Marcus: Right?

Jeri: Yeah.

Marcus: And so, the more that you can kind of hand-off those pieces of responsibility, the more effective your organization becomes. Now, what are you all currently working on at Dwell? Any efforts or anything that you can talk about?

Jeri: Yes. Yeah. Well we're finishing this up but we just started our big program is cultural acclimation classes sort of.

Marcus: Okay.

Jeri: And we partner with Spring Hill College, the Foley Center, and we have the classes actually there because they have English classes on the other nights. And so, we were thinking some of the people going there could also come to our classes. But we restructured them a little this Spring. So, we run them for eight or nine weeks, Spring and Fall, and a lot of it is built around building community and meeting people. And so, that's what most of our programs or events are structured like that. I tell people like you go in and it feels very messy or kind of chaotic, and sometimes it is really chaotic.

Marcus: Embrace it if it exists.

Jeri: Right. But there's life. There's lots of life to it. So, we meet one night a week, eat dinner and this semester we have changed them so they can pick from different tracks that they want to do. And so, they can pick English, GED, citizenship classes, driving classes. And then we have a whole nother program for the kids at the same time.

Marcus: That's cool.

Jeri: We're finishing that up and then this summer is going to be more just getting volunteers in homes and vising and stuff like that. And then some of that stuff happening organically.

Marcus: Nice.

Jeri: Yeah.

Marcus: Very cool. Are there any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward?

Jeri: Yes.

Marcus: Okay. You're going to have to expand on that.

Jeri: There's a lot. Books, podcasts, organizations, or people?

Marcus: People, yeah.

Jeri: I always go back to this book and this is not a business book but it was really helpful for me. One of the things that I look at is, I'm a person of faith so I think, how does my faith work out practically in my life? And that's what I'm talking about, how does it inform how I serve people? And there's a book called Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma who is a Creative Director at World Vision.

Marcus: Okay.

Jeri: And he writes about God's heart for justice basically. And so, that has helped me even in the thing that I call our organization is a value based organization, so we have these values we run off of and when we are looking at new things to do, does it match up to this value? And even in how we run things we have these values that we want to make sure get hit on and that we're operating from. And so, just that book has helped me see those things are legitimate. It's not just like a fluffy thing but it's ... I don't know if he would be listening to this, Todd Greer has helped me a lot.

Marcus: Oh, don't do that.

Jeri: Come on.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jeri: Yeah.

Marcus: Todd can be an influential person.

Jeri: Yes, he can be if he wants to be.

Marcus: If he wants to be. If he so chooses. No, we love Todd. He's doing wonderful things now up at University of Mobile.

Jeri: Yeah.

Marcus: Now, what's the most important thing that you've learned about running a non-profit?

Jeri: Wow.

Marcus: I didn't tell you these were going to be easy questions.

Jeri: I know, I was hoping you would send them to me before.

Marcus: No, no, no, no.

Jeri: So I can look smart.

Marcus: I did that once or twice and you could feel it in the answers that the person gave.

Jeri: Oh, yeah.

Marcus: It was just too polished.

Jeri: They were ready.

Marcus: And I was like, "No, that's not how we're playing this game." I want everybody giving her a few more seconds here, so I want everybody that's listening to this podcast to know they have never seen these questions. Now granted the questions get asked often times on previous episodes but unless you've listened to these a lot you're not going to recognize that there's some repetition in the questions. Those of you that listen understand that there is a lot of repetition but she's never seen these questions before so she's over here in the hot seat.

Jeri: So, the one most important thing? I also like to talk so I can tell you like five. I would say for a non-profit, especially I feel like the area I'm in, knowing when you need to rest is one of the most important things.

Marcus: Okay.

Jeri: Because I'm doing what I'm doing because I have a heart for helping people but if I don't rest then pretty soon I get bitter and I don't really want to help anyone.

Marcus: Right. And giving yourself the freedom to do that.

Jeri: Giving yourself the freedom to do that. And having little like ... this was actually a book I started reading that Todd recommended called Called to Create and the guy ... No, it was on something else, anyway. I heard somebody say once, "You get what you celebrate." And so, the idea is you have to celebrate the little things that happen are sometimes reflective of bigger things that are happening. So I always think ... And it's in one of our values of we're not going to meet every need and we can't, but it's more like what you're called to be doing. And so, I just have to remind myself, I can't jump if I see you need a car and a job and an apartment.

Marcus: You can't just provide that.

Jeri: I'm not going to be able to do all that stuff.

Marcus: Yeah. But you can be a friend.

Jeri: I can be a friend.

Marcus: Right.

Jeri: And so, if I can do that and then if I can have my limits of, "Okay, well that's great, sorry you need a car but, okay."

Marcus: I'm not Daddy Warbucks.

Jeri: Yeah. So, that gives me a lot of freedom to go ahead and then go be your friend.

Marcus: Right.

Jeri: And I think that's important otherwise I would be burnt out, I would not have any vision or passion left, and I would not be able to help others to do the things that I'm doing as well.

Marcus: I think that principle applies in business too. So often times we talk on this podcast about how business owners have a tendency because it is their baby, they have a tendency to get wrapped around the axle when it comes to their business and that's all they want to focus on. And the truth is that you have to force yourself to not just focus on that but also to take time away because it's often times in those times away when you have your greatest visions, and your epiphanies about what it is that you should be doing.

Jeri: Yes.

Marcus: And you also start to see the weaknesses in your business or the strengths in your business. Anyway, that principle definitely applies in a number of different ways. Now, tell people where they can find you.

Jeri: www.

Marcus: You don't have to do that. You can leave off the www thanks.

Jeri: You can see I'm a very technical person.

Marcus: Okay.

Jeri: We're on Facebook.

Marcus: Facebook.

Jeri: We're on Instagram.

Marcus: Okay, very good. Does your organization have any needs?

Jeri: We do have needs, yes.

Marcus: Okay, what are some of those needs? So, somebody out there is listening and they're so inclined, what would be the one or two things that you would ask them to do?

Jeri: Well, we ... I mean I was just telling you we have a fundraiser coming up soon that's probably passed by the time people will hear this but we're always in need of funds.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jeri: This is kind of what we tell people, we have a good base of starting of good programming, I like it. And we have great volunteers, we can always use volunteers. The thing about volunteering is I ask for certain levels of commitment to that because it's not helpful to hae somebody like float in and out a lot.

Marcus: Good.

Jeri: Because we're trying to build relationships.

Marcus: Yeah. Right.

Jeri: So, if you have the time and you want, volunteering is great. The fundraising part and the money part I feel like we're operating at this level right now, we're growing, it's good. We will not be able to operate at this level very long because I will burn out and so will other people if we do not get money raised.

Marcus: Right.

Jeri: So, that would be something people can do.

Marcus: Yeah, funding and volunteering. Yeah, so if you have money and you're so inclined sometimes that's what you're called to do.

Jeri: Right.

Marcus: That gift of giving is definitely very strong in some people. And so, this is definitely a worthy organization. And if you just have a heart for people and becoming friends with those that are the disenfranchised of the world. They've been placed in a new place and don't really know anything about it, then this is a great organization to get plugged into.

Jeri: Yes.

Marcus: Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. Any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Jeri: I don't think so. Thank you for having me.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jeri: I appreciate it.

Marcus: Absolutely. No, I love it.

Jeri: It was fun.

Marcus: We call ourselves the Mobile Alabama Business Podcast, but we also sit with people that we feel like have something great to offer and you are definitely one of those people with a heart and passion that you're pursuing the refugees in this area. So, thank you for what you're doing.

Jeri: Thank you. Yep.

Marcus: So, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a non-profit Executive Director, it's been great talking with you.

Jeri: Yes, you too. Thank you very much.

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