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Career Story: Founder And Ceo Of A Furniture Bank

Founder And Ceo Of A Furniture Bank

Job Title: CEO Of Furniture Bank-Charity

Type of Company: A furniture, housewares and baby-goods bank providing more than a million dollars in goods annually to more than 27,000 needy clients referred by 100+ agencies.

Education: BS, Biology

Previous Experience: I was a corporate trainer who specialized in teaching infrared camera technology to Navy SEALS, skilled tradesmen and engineers all over the world. I got married at 35 and wanted to stay home so I founded a charity.

I also worked in technical sales and system integration for a pair or world-famous optical companies. Before that, I worked in genetic engineering for a small "beltway bandit" company near the National Institutes of Health. I scaled up genetic material for AIDS research in 1986-1987 and almost starved from the pay. I waitressed at night but finally left due to a bleeding ulcer.

Job Tasks: As founder, president and CEO of a small charity that only employs 6 part-time people (I am the only FT)- I do everything from speaking engagements, to grant writing, to coordinating with the board of directors, fundraising, data entry, assisting clients, developing marketing materials, and managing the website.

A typical day is going to the warehouse for 3 hours to help clients while answering the phone and emails (and writing checks and handling staff in between).

I integrate time with my kids with work. So I may then go pick up a sick kid from school, go to the bank, go home and write a grant. Later the hubby comes home and I go out for a board meeting or fundraiser.

I probably work eighty hours a week but I love having the flexibility to go see school plays. Every weekend from May to September we go up to our lake house Saturday after work and don't return until Monday night or Tuesday morning. We changed our hours to fit our staff needs so we get a weekend off even though I work every Saturday and too many nights.

The cell phone and Blackberry are my best tools. I can keep doing paperwork and communicating with the public and staff while at the doctor's, or while driving or at the beach.

Although I have no health insurance or 401(k) since my company is too small and my husband owns his own construction company, we both like being close to home and really enjoying our kids' childhood while doing what we love.

From time to time I am blessed to be asked to teach some classes that involve social services at a local community college. I really love teaching homeless women and encourage them all to start their own small businesses. It is the only way to escape being homeless and be with your young kids.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I love owning my own company and the fact that we all have fun. It is rewarding to see an idea grow to a 13,000 square foot warehouse that helps so many people each year. Most major cities have food banks; we hope that one day all major cities will also have a Goods Bank. It is good for the environment and good for everybody involved.

My least favorite part is human resources and battling the State of Massachusetts over taxes, unemployment claims and other paperwork unrelated to helping anybody. That stuff's soul-sucking.

Job Tips:
1. Always have a solid hobby that you enjoy and that could make you money, as well as a job that makes money now. If you are really lucky, one day they will be the same.

2. Work hard. Nobody owes you anything accept what you really earn yourself.

3. Get an AA and then a job. You get free school with pay while you have an income AND you get to work in the field to see if it is even what you want to do (while exploring 100 other jobs at that company).

Additional Thoughts: Do not start a charity in Massachusetts. The paperwork is overwhelming to the point where you lose touch with the very people you wanted to help. Constantly having to raise money, beg for money and write grants for money gets exhausting.

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