Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hot Roasted Peanut Stand

When we applied for our mortgage, the bank was concerned about the fact that I’m self-employed. The loan agent required me to take out a listing in a local directory of consultants (in the grant writers section). The listing has not brought me any viable work. I occasionally get a call from someone who saw the listing and is looking for a grant writer. It is almost always someone kind of weird with a bizarre project in mind. Last summer I got a phone call sparked by the listing from a guy named Jerry who was looking for a grant writer to write a grant to help him start a hot roasted peanut stand business. He planned to hire blind and deaf people to sell peanuts on street corners. When I told Ron about this, he said I should have shouted at Jerry, “ARE YOU NUTS?!”
Jerry seems to think he’s going to be doing these blind and deaf people a favor by setting them up with a job. As if by being blind or deaf they are incapable of doing anything better with their lives than selling peanuts on street corners. A person can’t possibly make an adult income selling peanuts. (What? You want me to work for peanuts?)
Ironically, his call interrupted me while I was writing a huge federal grant for funding for a project to train and place mentally ill disabled individuals in mainstream jobs and I was busy researching the Supported Employment Model, a tremendous research-proven framework built on the belief that, given adequate extra support, severely disabled people (including the mentally ill) can make a significant contribution in the workplace, earn a competitive wage, and develop a career path. Bad timing, Jerry. I suggested he call the Workforce Investment Board and went to make myself a peanut butter sandwich.

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