On 7/15/12 Secret Millionaire, self-made millionaire Jeff Usner will give some money away in San Antonio.
We have the write-up here at Nobody’s View, so if you’re looking for more information on tonight’s show, well…look below!
[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!]
Interesting quote at the start about the pursuit of money taking over a life. Boy, if the world had a nickel….
So, San Antonio, Texas with Jeff Usner, an Internet marketing guy. Married with five children. Usner says that early on he was focused on money, until…well…his family had health problems. And then, Usner said he had a wakeup call. He had a stroke and apparently, that really made him shift his priorities. Passion first, people. Then money. You can have both. It’s okay. Just because you don’t put money first doesn’t mean you “hate” it (I hate when people say that to me). It just means that you have it categorized. Like everything else. It gets a rank. Period.
Anyway, Usner was off to his own backyard. Thirty minutes from his own door. Interesting house. Not the cleanest. Not the coolest (he complained at first that it was hot…difference between Texas secret millionaire and other places. In Texas, the first concern is A/C).
On the first morning, he got into his old (Carpice?) car and saw a billboard for TEAMability Learning Center – The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation (that’s a mouthful). He found the headquarters and wandered in. He met executive director Barbara Goldman, who founded the place in 2003 along with Nancy Swanson and Mari Garza. TEAMability helps serve the profoundly disabled. At TEAMability, the parents are part of the therapy sessions with the kids, so that they can be there for support and to see progress. TEAMability showed Usner a child, Orlando, who is benefitting from a harness the place uses, to help kids learn in an upright position–not a normally easy feat for a child with CP. Apparently Jeff has a cousin with a similar disability to Orlando. Orlando’s mother became visibly emotional when discussing TEAMability and the women who work with her son.
When Usner discussed the loss of his child and the difficulties his cousin faces, he was very emotional…noticing the spark of patience and empathy upon those who do, and receive, this work.
The next stop was Habitat For Safe Seniors, which provides services for those 55 and older and, according to their sign, provides a ramp program, home repair program, food delivery, and a senior center. There he met Rhonda, who explained that Habitat For Safe Seniors hosts a food fair for all people and home repairs to keep seniors safe. Rhonda explained that it’s often seniors who are forgotten in charity, even though they are often the most vulnerable. Along with Phil, Bubba, and Toby, Usner helped build a ramp for a senior couple.
Back at the center, there was chicken and collared greens cooked by a volunteer who has benefitted from Habitat For Safe Seniors’ charity. The talk was about charity, giving, and community, and Jeff seemed to really appreciate it.
On day 4, Usner was back out on the road for Habitat For Safe Seniors, helping at the weekly food drive for seniors in need. For many people, this is their only food for the week. The trunks opened and the food went in with no questions asked. It was difficult when Rhonda had to tell people in line that there might not be enough food left. Who knows how much change one more bag of food could make?
Usner next found The Advocates–Social Services Inc. (if you can find an official website, please let me know in the comments), founded in 1979 by Charlie Mata to help needy families. They also do a youth boxing program to help unstable youth to help them succeed and find self esteem. They asked Usner to help put up a boxing ring.
Jeff met Cyrus who started boxing at The Advocates at 12. He was doing well, until he was stabbed. But The Advocates’ Jason Mata became a mentor to him and helped him pull through. Mata’s son had a lot of nice things to say about his father and his commitment to the youth of San Antonio.
And, right before the break, Usner had some nice things to say (again) about money. It’s not whether you make a million or a thousand. It’s what you do with it. But, as we always say here at Nobody’s View–even if you don’t give money, you can give time or a smile. Even if it’s time to a friend in need or a smile to a stranger. Doesn’t matter. Do something. Anything. Change a life.
On the final day of volunteering, Jeff headed back to The Advocates to meet some of the fighters. He asked Jason about the place and Jason said it’s hard to train at certain times of year because of the facilities, and the problems with limitations of fund. When a charity has problems, it means they can’t alleviate as many problems in the community. For one young boxer, he said The Advocates helps him stay healthy and stay off the streets.
Usner went from The Advocates to Orlando’s home where TEAMability was going to deliver a homemade learning center for Orlando to help Orlando connect with the world around him. Barbara set up the apparatus, made of everyday items, and Orlando was in heaven. Jeff had a few words with Orlando’s father, who said he hasn’t had a chance to be at Orlando’s therapy because of work, and seeing him with the apparatus today made him happy. That hit home with Jeff, who said his long hours took away a lot of time from seeing his kids do certain things. I think that’s a common problem today, but it can be alleviated with some priority shifting. Nothing has to be abandoned or forgotten.
After the break it was time for Jeff’s reveal.
He said it was hard keeping the secret from people who needed his help immediately.
Jeff’s first stop was TEAMability. He thanked them for allowing him to volunteer and told the group how much they inspire him. He presented a check to TEAMability for $40,000. Barbara admitted she was in shock and said it was a “fantasy” to have things like this happen. But fortunately, it did happen.
The next stop was The Advocates Social Services. Jeff walked up on a fight in progress and told everyone what a positive impact they were having on the community. He presented them a check for $35,000. Jason said that the group was on the verge of closing their doors, but the money would help keep the place open for the youth of San Antonio.
The last stop was Habitat For Safe Seniors. Jeff shared how much he’s appreciated being allowed to help the group. He presented a check for $85,000. The group kind of broke down emotionally at that point, but in the best sense….
Jeff called the week “life changing” and he said he was now motivated to give more.
TEAMability is using Jeff’s funds to create a new program to help youth with movement and exercise.
The Advocates are using their donation to upgrade facilities and build and indoor space to serve at-risk youth.
Habitat For Safe Seniors is building a food storage facility to hold 30,000 pounds of groceries to feed the community.
So, what did we learn this week? We can work and work and work and work, and the more we work the more we can forget what matters. No, placing money second doesn’t mean hating it. It simply means keeping it in perspective.
Tomorrow, try something. Give away one dollar. Just one. Doesn’t matter if it’s a handout to a homeless person, added to a server’s tip, or a gift to your grandchild. Just part with one dollar.
And then? Well, then let it go. Let it do its work.
And think on that dollar no more.