Thank you for joining us for the 2012 Secret Millionaire blog. Let’s see who’s giving this year.
[You already know we blog America’s Got Talent here, because we believe that regular people living their dreams is worth a few words. Heck, that’s sort of why we exist! And, this season, we’ve decided to again blog Secret Millionaire. Why? Well, first, we’ve noticed some of you coming back from last season looking for the write-ups. So there’s that. But we also like the idea of people giving back. And, we notice that sometimes people check in here for names and information on the groups that benefit. So, if we can help you find some information, then that’s fine by us. Enjoy!]
This week it’s a father, Scott Jacobs, and his daughter Alexa Jacobs. He’s an artist, and apparently does well there in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Alexa gets her nails done and buys shoes.
Apparently, Alexa is a mommy’s girl. I guess that’s not a terrible thing. Anyway, she’ll soon be a daddy’s girl in another part of the country. A part of the country where mom fears for Alexa’s safety. Newark, New Jersey. Apparently, Scott Jacobs was born very close to there. Quite a homecoming, right?
Alexa didn’t seem very comfortable being there, initially. No one was around or in the parks. Why? Cab driver said everyone’s afraid they’ll get shot.
When they got into the house, Alexa said she was “grossed out.” I guess I can understand that. $71.03. That’s all they got. Just a little more than Alexa’s nails.
The first guy they met has been homeless for seven years. He pointed out a shelter down the street. When they went in to see his house, it was just a dirty, abandoned house with a pile of mattresses. To say it was shocking for her, was an understatement.
IYO was a name given to them by some guys on the street. They’ll check it out later, but first, Alexa had a date with reality on the stoop of their house. She cried. It hit her that there is a real world out there with people struggling.
Alexa Jacobs, I have to say: I wish more people had your reaction to the plight of the world.
Day 2 brought discomfort. Homesickness. More feelings of “gross.”
But then again, it also brings opportunity.
IYO, a youth organization, was first on the radar. It was founded by Carolyn and James Wallage to help the youth of Newark to be “productive” and “get a job.”
It’s about teamwork and desire, according to Carolyn Wallace.
The day Scott and Alexa were there, it was time to clean up at the cemetery. Time to clean up the trash. Alexa admitted that she is “lazy,” so this should be quite an eye-opener. Alexa interviewed a guy who basically had to be the man of his family since age 14. He takes care of his six siblings. And, he says IYO has helped him. Alexa clearly was moved by the fact that this guy has had to make it on his own for years. Thank goodness someone was there.
An organization to assist veterans transition was next. The G.I. Go Veterans Transition Center. I’m glad they’re going there. Very glad. It was founded by Jack and James Fanous to help vets transition back into society and get back on track to help avoid homelessness. A midnight mission was on the table from 4-6am to help veterans with supplies. Alexa was nervous, but she was part of a training session to learn outreach safety. “Stay in your groups and stay cautious,” Jack said. I don’t think Scott and Alexa were too comfortable at the start.
Day 3 brought outreach.
Alexa was nervous to reach out to the homeless in the dark near Penn Station. But she was actually the one leading the charge out on the street. Scott met a guy who was shot in the head and living on the street. Alexa met a veteran who has lost everything due to drugs and has PTSD. I think Scott saw a side of her he’s never seen before. Come to think of it, I think Alexa saw a side of herself she’s never seen before.
Over tea, Scott told Alexa he was proud of her. She was probably proud of her.
Scott found an organization that helps youth through art projects. Wesley Simms and Glassroots. Business and art skills. Sounds great! Using glass to help kids get back on the path, Simms said. The artists are incredibly talented. One kid, Chris, said he was on the streets as a younger man, selling drugs. And now? Well, now he’s an artist.
It doesn’t sound like Scott had the best childhood, and it seems like being back in Newark is brining up a lot of emotions for him. I guess we sometimes don’t know how much we really have to deal with until we come face-to-face with others dealing with their own issues. Then, perhaps, that opens doors we didn’t know we had.
Day 4 brought some real revelations. Seeing people sleeping on garbage. Seeing Alexa grow.
There was a Glassroots art show to raise funds for the organization. Wesley Simms says he used to be a lawyer, but now he sees what he’s doing as the most important thing. He says he hasn’t looked back. Good for you, Wesley.
Scott seems to have bonded with Chris–a guy trying his best to overcome and succeed. And, his glass is really good. Chris—keep putting your emotions into your work, and you’ll succeed.
At dinner, Scott told Alexa the best part of the show was getting closer to Alexa. And the best part? He realizes that the more he knows, the less making money matters. I like to hear that! Those are the people that end up doing so much to change the world.
That evening, Scott and Alexa met the mother of Lt. Seth Dvorin at a charity giveaway–Seth is a soldier who died saving others (18 others), and an inspiration for starting the G.I. Go Fund. Now, his name saves and saves. The Fund provided food and clothing to homeless vets. They’re saving lives at the expense of their own because they know they have to do it.
Scott and Alexa decided to give their money on that day. Why? Well, sometimes emotion guides us instead of schedules.
After the break, Scott presented a check for $75,000. I don’t know what that buys today (I’m not a millionaire), but I’m sure it can buy a lot of clothes and a lot of food for a lot of people who really need it.
Scott and Alexa started packing, but they still had business with Glassroots and IYO. How much would they give?
First up was Glassroots. Scott presented a donation for $20,000. Hopefully a place that encourages the arts can raise even more money…not just for spreading the joy of artistic pursuit, but for saving young lives.
Then, Scott addressed Chris. He told him to keep his direction, and to keep his phone number as a mentor. Scott gave him a check for $2500 to help with his life expenses. I hope this is an ongoing collaboration between two artists. Or more.
Last, but not least, was IYO. Alexa was emotional as she praised Carolyn for her 40 years of service. That was nice. Then, there was a check for $50,000. That was nice, too.
Alexa, when you become a social worker or someone else who helps others, please don’t forget how Carolyn Wallace changed your life. That goes for all of you! Don’t forget that person who really pointed you in the right direction.
Glassroots used their money to start a new internship program. Chris used his money to help his family with school and household expenses. Mrs. Wallace used her check to keep IYO open and pay bills. And, G.I. Go Fund is buying vans to help with mobile outreach.
So, this week we learned something. We learned that art can save lives. It can. Please stop cutting it from programs. Please start respecting it. Please. Creativity matters. We learned that one woman can help as many youth as will allow it. And, we discovered that there are people who will go to any lengths to save homeless veterans, to honor a man they knew and still love.
Scott Jacobs learned that he is lucky in his success, but that that luck only gets us “things” until we learn to give them away. Then we get so much more.
And Alexa? Well a woman who describes herself as “lazy” is probably going to do extraordinary things. I’m sure she’ll still get her nails cleaned and polished, but now, maybe her hands will also get a little dirty. Alexa, if you decide on a career in social work, let me know. I’d be happy to give you some guidance. Social work is one of my hats, and I like helping others to find their fit. But then again, I’m guessing you don’t really need help at this point. Just let your heart guide you.
Join us next week as more millionaires give a little, and learn a lot.