Facing Teaching (Not-for-Profit)

About the project:

The Facing Project tackled education in Delaware County, Indiana during the 2017/2018 academic year. The project organizers needed writers to interview educators and write their stories in the storyteller’s voice. I had the privilege of bringing the plight of underpaid, overworked teachers to light through the story of my close friend, Pat McCrory in “It’s Hard to Teach When You Can’t Pay Your Bills”.

LINK TO PDF: Facing Teaching

Want to Erase Your Past? Now You Can in Indiana (Legal)

Regret is a tough emotion to tackle. We go over the mistakes we made in the past over and over again, and we ask ourselves why we didn’t keep our mouths shut, or say no to that last drink, or stay away from those people.

We’ve all made mistakes. Usually we deal with the regret, forgive ourselves and move on.

Some of us don’t have that option. Sometimes the pain of regret can’t heal, because we are constantly reminded of our mistakes and asked to pay for them. For the rest of our lives, in some cases.

Kristen’s Story

Kristen Brasher thought she would never escape the consequences of her mistake. In 2008, at 19 years old, the Seymour native pleaded guilty to “attempted possession of a controlled substance.”

The public doesn’t know all the details, but we can guess. Hers is likely a familiar story of teenage anger or escape or a search for belonging … whatever the cause, it led her to drugs. She got caught trying to buy what she thought she needed at the time.

On the advice of her attorney, she accepted the consequence. She thought all she faced was a year of probation, the completion of a drug and alcohol program and community service.

What she couldn’t possibly understand until experiencing it was how serving her sentence would not be the end of her regret. That wound would be reopened, again and again.

For five years, every time Kristen interviewed for job – Seattle, Kansas City, it didn’t matter where – her criminal record haunted her. She had to answer for getting into that “wrong place, wrong time kind of thing” everywhere she went, knowing it would cause any potential employer to think twice.

One even outright told her they couldn’t hire her because not enough time had passed.

Company policy. Sorry.

Then came Indiana’s Second Chance Act of 2013, dramatically expanding the rights of people like Kristen to have their criminal record “expunged,” or erased in the eyes of the law.

On September 15th, 2013, Kristen became the first person to file for expungement of her record in Jackson County. With the help of her attorney, on March 14th, 2014, the crime was erased. She was finally free of it.

Kristen used her new clean-record status to become a CASA (court-appointed special advocate), a volunteer supporting and speaking for foster kids in court proceedings. She also got a job at a technology company in Columbus.

“It doesn’t have to hinder you from getting employment,” Kristen said. “You don’t have to have your record following you the rest of your life.”

What is expungement?

Expungement is the most thorough way of erasing your criminal past. While certain folks, such as law enforcement or immigration officials, will still be able to view your records by request, potential employers will not.

How do I get my criminal record expunged?

Really, the first thing you should ask is, “Am I eligible to have my record expunged?” If you murdered someone or committed a sex crime, for a couple of examples, we need to have a different discussion. But assuming you are eligible, like Kristen was, there’s a pretty complicated process to go through to get you to the Promised Land.

Over the next few months we’ll be exploring the ins and outs of expungement in Indiana in this blog, but please don’t consider anything you read here as comprehensive legal advice. Every case is unique. You’re going to need a good attorney to make sure you get the result you want.

Why Bruce Munson?

I’ve been doing this for over a quarter century. I’ve seen the law come down too hard, too often, and I’ve seen lives destroyed by past mistakes. Indiana’s Second Chance Law has opened the door to a new life for people like you who haven’t been able to move on. I’m focusing on this right now because I want to help as many people as possible take advantage of this opportunity.

If experience, skill and heart aren’t good enough reasons to hire me, I don’t know what is. Come back to this blog to learn more about expungement as we go, or just contact me today to discuss your situation.

You won’t regret it.

Hillcroft Services Annual Report 2017 (Not-for-Profit)

About the project:

The client needed two stories for its annual report, one to illustrate its life-changing residential programming for people with mental and physical disabilities, and one to demonstrate the value of its sheltered work program both for business customers and Hillcroft clients/residents.

LINK TO PDF: Hillcroft Annual Report 2017

Hearers to Kneelers to Chosen (Marketing & Advertising)

About the project:

CSS Publishing, a Christian publisher of pastoral resources, needed help keeping up with press releases to promote upcoming books. The target audience was Protestant pastors of various denominations as well as Catholic clergy who follow the Lectionary (prescribed teaching throughout the church calendar).

This is a sample of my work.

***

Lima, Ohio (CSS Publishing Co.) [INSERT DATE] – CSS Publishing Company of Lima, Ohio announces the release of Hearers to Kneelers to Chosen: The Transformed Life, a series of second lesson sermons for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, Cycle B.

In the early church, new converts to the faith were first called “hearers” as they listened to instruction; when they were mature enough to remain for prayer they became “kneelers”; only once the elders were convinced they would not recant, even in the face of martyrdom, would the pupils become baptized into the faith as “the chosen.”

This is the journey of empowerment Ron Love invites us to embark upon in Hearers to Kneelers to Chosen. Echoing theologian Immanuel Kant, Love draws upon Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians to answer three basic philosophical questions every believer asks in his or her heart. What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope?

Rich in stories of historical figures, Hearers to Kneelers to Chosen demonstrates that those who seek knowledge of scripture, who choose love over fear and who trust in Jesus Christ will have the power to do nothing short of transforming the world, one life at a time.

Ronald H. Love was called into the ordained ministry from a career as a state trooper. He has served Methodist churches in rural, inner-city and suburban settings for 20 years, and also served for four years as an Army chaplain. Dr. Love has also been a corporate librarian for a Fortune 500 company and been a university professor for 10 years, teaching history and theology. His writing experience includes denominational publications, magazine articles on religion, and a newspaper devotional column. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology (Slippery Rock State College), master’s degrees in library and information science (University of Pittsburgh), secondary education (Duquesne University), church history (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), and theology (Wesley Theological Seminary), as well as a doctorate in homiletics (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary). Dr. Love now resides in South Carolina.

CSS Publishing Company, Inc. is a leading, non-denominational publisher of preaching and worship resources, chancel drama, and many other related products for the Protestant church. It is located at 5450 North Dixie Highway, Lima, OH, 45807. The company was founded in 1970 by Rev. Wesley Runk and Rev. Thomas Lentz and is now operated by the second generation of the Runk family. For more information about CSS Publishing Company and its products, please visit www.csspub.com, www.SermonSuite.com or www.lectionaryscripturenotes.com. Hundreds of CSS Publishing Company resources for church ministry are also available through Amazon, Cokesbury, Christian Book Distributors (CBD), Barnes and Noble, LifeWay Christian Stores, Family Christian Stores and other Christian bookstores. CSS invites interested parties to call toll-free, (800) 241-4056 for more information about Hearers to Kneelers to Chosen or any of its other church ministry resources.

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Hanging Out with the Other “Ole No. 7” (Financial)

(PrimeTrust Federal Credit Union, June 2016)

Sometimes you think you’re going to work in a hospital when you graduate … and end up becoming a country singer/watchmaker/cell phone salesman instead.

That’s what happened to Zach Welch.

Venture off campus some evening to hole-in-the wall biker haunts and townie favorites like The Village Inn on Muncie’s east side or Monty’s Lounge in Chesterfield to find Lee Whiteman & The Ole No. 7 Band.

As you’re singing along to tales of heartbreak and loss, look for the young guy on the right with the slick haircut and trim beard on backup guitar and vocals. That’s Zach.

“I’ve been with the band for four years,” Zach said. “It wasn’t exactly my favorite genre at first, but I have a lot of fun.”

The band gets its name from a favorite rehearsal beverage among the group’s founders, Jack Daniel’s Old Number 7. Craft beer is more Zach’s thing, though. He likes to hang out at Scotty’s and Brothers in the Village, and Thr3e Wise Men downtown.

By day Zach manages a Sprint store in Noblesville. Ask someone how they got from studying healthcare at Ball State to building a successful career as a retail store manager, and they might tell you it’s a long story.

Not Zach. He makes it sound pretty simple.

“I wasn’t sure healthcare was going to be for me, but I was so close I decided to finish the program. A friend from high school told me there was a position available. I was always interested in technology.”

So he took the job as a sales rep. Three years later he was promoted to manager.

His hobby is in a technology that’s been around a lot longer than cell phones. He’s been working on his antique watch collection for about four years.

“It started out with me collecting a few pieces that I liked. Now I buy and sell a bit, and I’m starting to build my own stuff from stock parts.”

Zach’s been a PrimeTrust member since 2007 when he graduated from high school. Credit unions have always been a family thing to him. His grandfather was a credit union member. So were his parents.

“You can put your trust in it like a family,” he said. “We’ve all had good experiences. Little things come up sometimes, but I’ve always been able to get it taken care of. It can be intimidating with a big corporation to get issues resolved. Here I have no apprehension.”

The credit union experience is different for him than it was for his grandfather. Between work, band practice, watch collecting and spending time with his fiancée (when she’s not in nursing classes at Ball State), Zach doesn’t always have time to walk into branches and do his banking face to face.

“The mobile app is my best friend. Just knowing how much I have in my accounts and being able to transfer between checking and savings is great. Paying on my personal loan is super easy, too.”

Zach appreciates that the spirit of credit union membership hasn’t changed. Even if he’s not in the branches that often, he still feels valued like a family member.

He gets a nice little reminder of how valued he is once a year … his member dividend check.

“It’s cool to me that they give a little bit back in that bonus for your membership. It makes you feel like you’re an important part of the organization,” Zach said.

The next time you need a cell phone, you’re in the market for a handcrafted watch or you’re in the mood for some country/Southern rock, go find Zach Welch and give him a high five.

Tell him his PrimeTrust Federal Credit Union family sent you.

Want to find out more about what it means to be a credit union member? Check out our resources for the next generation of higher-ed students and professionals, Go CU! at www.LetsGoCU.com, or reach out on Facebook (@primetrustgocu) and Twitter (@letsgocu).

Visit PrimeTrust at www.primetrustcu.com

Or go old school and call us: 765-289-2148

Cherokee, Christian, Squeaky Wheel & One-time Spy: FC Tucker Anderson’s Sam Johnson (Real Estate)

Image source: Pixabay.com

(F.C. Tucker Anderson, July 2017)

At his wife’s urging, Sam Johnson went to his first meeting of the American Indian Council in Phoenix, Arizona in 2001. He was heavily involved at the time with Church of God Ministries and had felt that it was time for him to explore his Cherokee heritage.

Sam’s reception was mixed at first. Sure, his dark hair was the appropriate length, cascading down his shoulders; it just seemed an odd fit with the light-colored skin and business casual attire paired with Converse Chuck Taylors.

“Some thought I was some kind of spy,” Sam said. “They wanted to know what this white man was doing here.”

When he was young, his father had urged him to be guarded about his heritage for fear of discrimination. Now, it seemed he didn’t appear Cherokee enough.

“I told them I wasn’t white! I was Irish, German and Cherokee, and I was here as a Cherokee.”

By the third day at the conference, Sam had not only won them over, he became their treasurer. In 2004, he became First Chief, or President. His served as a liaison between the church and Native American reservations, as a kind of cultural translator to Church of God Ministries.

For example, he said to be careful encouraging young Native Americans to find work in metropolitan areas because, in their culture, that meant abandoning your family.

He also advocated for ministries to provide food to Native American families because, as he explained, “Nobody’s going to care about what you say about God if they’re hungry and you’re not feeding them first. That’s just common sense.”

In 2006, Sam felt God calling him to serve families a little closer to home, in the Anderson school system. He had spent some time as a substitute teacher and didn’t much care for it. Children who were too often the “adult” in the home, as parents struggled with drug addiction or were simply absent, came to school hungry, angry and ready to fight.

“It’s a war zone,” he said.

He fought it at first, but Sam finally accepted God’s call. He took a job as a permanent substitute teacher at Robinson Elementary. For three years there and another two at Anderson High School, he fought to keep kids out of trouble, and to give special needs kids the attention they desperately needed.

In 2011, Sam felt it was time for a change. He had always been interested in buying and selling real estate someday, and had a feeling he would end up becoming a real estate agent. He looked into all the agencies in town and decided on FC Tucker for a simple reason.

“The CEO is a Christian. We pray before every annual awards banquet, we talk about God, we talk about what it means to be a good person,” Sam said.

July 1st, 2017 was Sam’s six-year anniversary here at FC Tucker. In that time he has continued doing what he’s always done: serving others in need.

Though Sam no longer serves on the American Indian Council, he still supports missions as a member of Madison Park Church of God.

Though he no longer works in the school system, he still serves children and families through his affiliations with Dove Harbor, United Faith Housing, Operation Love and the Miriam Project, which together provide subsidized housing, food, clothing, utility assistance, and support for women in crisis pregnancies.

All this, while still selling enough real estate to make a good living.

Sam shrugs off his community involvement. He says it’s just using relationships he’s developed over a lifetime in this area to connect people and get things done. Sometimes that means speaking hard truths, be it telling a client their sale price is too high or that the church needs to do more to live up to its call.

It’s all just part of who he is.

“I’m a squeaky wheel,” Sam said, with the chuckle. “I’m gonna tell you the truth, because I’m all about trust, and building relationships. It’s not about selling a house.”

Wagglebottoms Website (Pet Services)

About the project:

The client wanted a new, more attractive website with attractive new words to match. Owner Lauren Dale hired Spotted Monkey Marketing to do the redesign, then reached out to me for a consultation on text content. After discussing how we could improve upon and add to existing language, I supplied both the client and the web designer with a draft of the attached document. I worked with the client to tweak the text until we settled on a final draft, which the designer then transferred to the new site at www.wagglebottoms.com.

LINK TO PDF: Wagglebottoms Website Copy Final

Ahora es el Tiempo: Time for All Americans to Have Affordable Healthcare (Health)

Image source: pixabay.com/photo-1993031

(Madison County Community Health Center, October 2016)

Are you uninsured? If so, there may be a solution available to you right now.

Now entering its fourth year, the Health Insurance Marketplace continues to offer Americans access to health insurance who had no other realistic option for coverage before. Here’s what you need to know.

  1. What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?

As a result of the U.S. Congress passing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA for short), in 2014 the federal government began offering a low-cost alternative to individual health insurance for Americans too far above the federal poverty line to be eligible for Medicaid.

Among other benefits of Marketplace plans, Americans now:

  • Will not see their children excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
  • Do not have to pay for preventative care.
  • Can pay discounted premiums through federal subsidies.
  1. How do I know if I’m eligible?

Do you live in the United States? Are you a U.S. citizen? Are you in jail?

If your answers were “Yes”, “Yes” and “No”, you’re eligible to enroll. Pretty simple. It’s a bit more complicated if you are an immigrant to the U.S. Thankfully, the U.S. government has provided a useful tool to determine your eligibility based on your immigration status.

  1. When do I enroll, and when does my coverage begin?

The Open Enrollment period began November 1st.  There are two important deadlines to remember:

December 15th Last day to enroll in coverage to begin on January 1st.

January 31st Last day to enroll in coverage for 2017 or to change your plan.

Outside of Open Enrollment, you can only apply during a Special Enrollment Period following a qualifying life event.

An Opportunity for Middle-Class Americans (y por la comunidad latino)

The ACA has made possible an historic reduction in uninsured rates for millions who may be under-employed, self-employed or for whatever reason don’t have reasonable access to health insurance.

This is great news for many Americans, but there may be no other community more positively impacted by this resource than the Latin American community. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2015 an estimated 8 in 10 uninsured Latinos qualified for some type of coverage, including plans with reduced monthly premiums, through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Now it’s your turn to enjoy affordable healthcare. To learn more, visit www.healthcare.gov and click on “Preview 2017 Plans & Prices” (disponible en español).

5 Essential Components of a 21st Century Corporate Wellness Program (Health)

Image Source: pixabay.com

(Cover-Tek, September 2016)

It’s hard to miss the reality that obesity, anxiety and depression are plaguing your workplace. The stakes are high. If you do nothing, you know all about the long list of consequences: diabetes, heart disease, even suicide.

Time to put a smile on your face and STAY POSITIVE! Yes, it’s tough. You know wellness programs aren’t all created equal. Maybe you’ve tried one in the past and saw such low participation rates it didn’t seem worth it. You just want to do something that works.

Take a deep breath. Corporate wellness is changing, but it’s not a lost cause. Far from it. Here are 5 essential components of a successful program.

  1. Focus on at-risk employees.

According to a 2016 study by Rand Corporation, over the last 10 years employers have gotten the most bang for their wellness buck from the “disease management” component of programming. Companies saved $136 per member and reduced hospital admissions by 30%.

These are the folks who suffer from being overweight, having high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, etc. Doesn’t it just make sense that these individuals would be the most likely to participate in, and the most likely to benefit from, components like health screenings, lab testing, and wellness education?

  1. Include employees in program development.

This one isn’t new. When Harold Jackson started down the road to wellness at medical equipment company Buffalo Supply in the early 2000s, the ideas were pretty simple. He offered a bonus to employees who quit smoking. He put fresh fruits and vegetables in the break room instead of candy.

Real policies began to take shape when he asked his employees for input. In asking them about their concerns he learned that flu prevention was a high priority. On-site flu shots and a rotation of Lysol-spraying duties during flu season came as a result. Employee buy-in is a must for a successful program.

  1. Utilize technology.

Wearable fitness trackers like FitBit that communicate with smartphone apps are increasingly becoming a central component to both general lifestyle programs and disease management.

It’s never a bad idea to take queues from a major hospital’s employee wellness program for inspiration (since, you know, it’s a hospital). Houston Methodist subsidizes the cost of FitBits for employees to make it easier for staff to participate in performance tracking.

  1. Include an emphasis on mental health and sleep.

Mental health is harder to measure than physical health. Sleep is not something employees can do while working (unlike walking meetings, biking to and from appointments, etc.). Maybe this is why these components are sometimes overlooked.

Poor mental health means poor sleep and vice versa. When depression costs U.S. companies $44 billion per year there is no question it pays to promote mental health. If employees can track steps, they can track mood and sleep quality. A successful program provides access to mental health resources as readily as medical resources.

  1. Consider making it, uh, fun!

Pokémon GO may be the greatest app for promoting wellness ever devised. It gets people moving. It gets people talking. It provides challenges and rewards. It requires exercise and nobody seems to mind … because it’s fun.

Anything you can do to incorporate fun into your wellness program at reasonable or no cost, do it! Most people don’t walk for walking’s sake. For some of us, the health benefit is sufficient reward. Other people need to collect fictional animated critters. To each his own.

Ready to Start?

Whether you’re starting a new program or revamping an existing one, we hope you feel empowered to encourage wellness among your employees. Remember that you’re not just improving your business’ bottom line. You’re also saving lives.

But don’t dwell on that serious stuff. Take a break and go catch some more Pokémon!

Tech Breaks All the Rules in Ed Frederici’s New Pacers Playbook (Technology)

Image Copyright: videodoctor / 123RF Stock Photo

(LEAP Managed IT, November 2016)

Ed Frederici

Ed Frederici, CTO Indiana Pacers

Imagine you’re waiting in the ticket line at Bankers Life Fieldhouse when you look up to see Pacers forward Paul George appear in the crowd.

Before you have time to wonder where he and his ball came from, #13 is dribbling as he gracefully cuts through the throng of delighted fans.

Now he’s coming your way. At top speed. This is awesome … and a little scary. In a blink, as all 6’ 9” of Paul George is charging you, a hoop appears just above your head. George launches himself off the floor.

He slam-dunks the ball, shatters the glass. A pair of giant sneakers and shards of backboard are showering down, and then … it all disappears.

The crowd goes wild.

This is one of many sports-going experiences Ed Frederici, Chief Technology Officer for Pacers Sports and Entertainment expects to provide to spectators in the not-so-distant future.

“There are a number of companies out there now trying to perfect the hologram,” Ed said. “We’re looking to see if we can invest in using this technology to make the spectacle of a game that much more exciting.”

Ed is no stranger to developing existing technologies into game-changers. One of the proudest accomplishments of his 20-year career in tech was with ExactTarget. You know it today as the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

When the digital marketing company went public, as CTO Ed had pretty lofty expectations to fulfill. ExactTarget was already successful at sending individualized communications like emails, text messages and mobile notifications that are contextually meaningful to each recipient.

Now it was time to take one-to-one digital marketing to the next level.

“It was a significant technical challenge to adapt to the growing demand for this service. We were sending about a billion of those messages a day by the time I left,” Ed said.

There had been a familiar ebb and flow of digital marketing efforts around the retail cycle. Retailers would ramp it up before the holiday season and customer touches would see a peak just after Thanksgiving.

Thanks to a dramatic expansion in capacity made possible by Ed’s team, clients could continue utilizing their customer contact lists long after Cyber Monday. The retail cycle began to flatten. There was less ebb, more flow.

“It never went down, really. You always had a new high watermark at the beginning of the new year. It was usually almost double the previous watermark,” Ed said.

It was fascinating work for an engineer, but it was the impact on the company’s clients that made the experience so rewarding.

“We drove significant commerce around the world. If even just 10% of those messages were acted on, that generates a lot of revenue. The work we started has added a huge amount of value to individual businesses.”

Ed wasted no time applying his knack for making tech bigger, better and more tuned to the needs of his clients when he joined the Pacers.

There was a problem with the Wi-Fi. Yes, Bankers Life Fieldhouse was one of the few arenas to have free Wi-Fi everywhere in the building. The quality, however, didn’t exceed Ed’s expectations.

His solution? Redesign the infrastructure across the board using high-density Wi-Fi technology.

“We’re about a month and a half away from standing that up. When we’re done we should have Wi-Fi as good as any in any stadium or arena in the U.S.”

Ed’s team has also developed apps for visitors to use over that best-in-class Wi-Fi.

New this season, Wait Time allows visitors to see estimated wait time at concession stands and bathrooms on monitors and via a mobile app. No more guessing where the shortest line is. Now you’ll know, down to the minute.

Ed’s team is also releasing an app called Satisfi, which learns over time what people’s search queries really mean. For example, you might ask where the “best beer” is in the arena. Satisfi is smart enough to lead you to craft beers, not just any old brew.

The future holds still greater advancements to delight Pacers fans, such as applications of virtual reality.

“This is theoretical, because we don’t own the broadcast rights to the NBA, the NBA does; however, imagine you could sit courtside via your VR goggles and have a courtside seat at center court and watch that game from home,” Ed said.

There are tremendous business advantages to applying VR technology in this way.

“We’re in an arena of about 18,500 seats,” Ed said. “We’re capped at selling 18,500 tickets. With VR you could sell an almost unlimited number of tickets and still give fans that arena experience.”

How far off is VR courtside pro basketball?

“If you look at Facebook and Twitter making deals with large sports organizations like the NFL to broadcast games live in VR, we’re pretty close. We can’t be more than a couple years off.”

That should be exciting outside of the wide world of sports as well. Once VR is adopted as a familiar platform for gaming and viewing sporting events, it could become a common tool for businesses, families and schools. VR more fully engages the senses during meetings with faraway colleagues, family members and instructors, providing a better sense of social connection than video conferencing can.

Pivots in one arena can have profound implications in others, but none of it happens until you have the vision and determination to execute disruptive change. That’s what Pivot 2016 is all about.

“Maybe you’re pivoting from one product to another, one culture to another. There are a lot of different pivots. In my career I’ve learned which techniques work to do it effectively and which ones don’t. That’s what I hope to convey in the talk,” Ed said.

Don’t miss your chance to hear Ed Frederici’s talk and much more on Wednesday, November 16th at Launch Fishers. Register now*. We look forward to seeing you there!

*Original included active hyperlink to event registration page.