From (Workhorse) to (Potential) Lead Coordinator
I. Empty Advice
Alaskan teacher Ivan Hodes inboxed me on Facebook. “You need to rest,” he wrote. “I’m concerned about your feet. The rest of your legs have muscle to absorb the shock. Your feet have a tendon. Take a day off. Even half a day would be good.”
My gut reaction was to ignore him. The Walk for America’s Children officially started on Tuesday, September 4, 2013 at 10 pm. A Sikh from Juneau, Alaska named Hari Dev Singh Khalsa flew down to accompany me. In seven days, we bulldozed our way 114 miles up US 1.
My attempts at organizing the Walk basically fell on deaf ears. Everyone was “busy” managing their careers and caring for their families. I asked and asked for help. Little of it came. So, Hari Dev and I worked with what we had.
I heard Ivan. I thanked him for the concern and advice, then asked him to contact his teacher network. I knew that created another task for me. He too was busy and would rely on me to remind him that he said, “Yes, let me see what I can do,” in a few days.
II. The “image” of a Workhorse
My passion doesn’t serve the children of America well. Inside the Facebook “think tank” group, I broke down and stated that I felt like a “workhorse,” not a leader. Because I work so hard, people perceive me as a leader. Or, they imagine I have staff assisting me.
There is no staff.
As Hari Dev and I left Stuart, Florida, a grandmother saw us walking along the highway and asked us a series of questions.
Where was our sign?
Where was our support car?
I just smiled and “took it”. I didn’t see the need to explain how I ask for help and get told, “I’m leaving town, I can’t help right now.” “I’m looking for a job, I can’t help right now.” “I don’t even know how to do what you are asking, so, I can’t help right now.” Because of my passion, I just plow ahead.
Minneapolis resident, Javann Ulmer called me after I posted the “workhorse” comment with words of encouragement. She explained that she greatly admired The Walk for America’s Children, however, she was a single-mother with two children to take care of, a job and personal issues to juggle. She wants to help. It’s just that regular life gets in the way.
I believe Javann.
III. More “tasks” Than Two hands Can Handle
Even with over 20 persons in the By2015:AMERICA “think tank” group:
1) The Lead Coordinator is composing 98% of the blogs which appear on the By2015:AMERICA blog. “Editing” the by members posts inside the group amounts to them saying, “I read it.”
2) The Lead Coordinator is imagining and starring in the videos associated with the Walk. Others are holding the phone. (Hari Dev is helping now!)
3) The Lead Coordinator is taking 80% of the photos appearing on social media associated with the Walk. (Hari Dev is helping now!)
4) The Lead Coordinator is “marketing” the blog posts, videos and pictures across Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Instagram. This amounts to me “inboxing” 50 – 75 people, tagging the same number in photos and interacting with others on their own threads.
These tasks are accomplished on top of walking 15 – 20 miles per day. I’m exhausted. So exhausted, when I receive advice, my gut reaction is to ignore it. Because said advice amounts to me – Kokayi Nosakhere – adding on more task to an already overburdened “to-do” list.
IV. I want to help
My friend, Andrea Flynn in Anchorage, called me after reading several Facebook posts about needing housing.
“What’s the next city you are going too?” she asked.
“I want to cry,” I said.
“Why?” she asked.
“Because each morning I post a status telling people where we are and what city we are going too. Then, at night, I post how far we got and where we want to go. What am I doing wrong?” I said.
“You’re not doing anything wrong, Kokayi. I’m not on-line right now. I’m having a conversation with you. The information isn’t at my fingertips. You can’t see it, but you’re doing a great job. I see the posts. I know what’s going on. I just have a child to take care of and work. I’m trying to help RIGHT NOW. Let me help,” she said.
Again, I understand her argument.
Just outside of Fort Pierce, Florida a homeless man stopped Hari Dev and asked him several questions. Once he found out what we were doing he said, “You two are doing God’s Work. You need a sign.”
Maybe, it was because he was homeless; maybe, it is because he is an ANGEL; but, he not only gave advice, he also assisted with completing the task. He muttered some Bible verses to himself and found material to make sign with in the form of a weathered cardboard box. He split it in two and told us where to specifically hang each sign on the stroller and on my backpack. Then, he pointed us towards a Dollar store to purchase markers.
I heard Bob Marley’s music in my head and thanked JAH ALMIGHTY for such an ANGEL.
V. More ANGELS Appear
Then, my Sister-in-Law, Teiana Poullard, contacted me with the name and phone number of a Vero Beach reporter. She read the Monday (September 9, 2013) blog post and used the email inside of the blog to contact media along our route, which is another blog post.
The Juneau Organizer for the By2015:AMERICA movement contacted me and volunteered to become the “media rep” for the Walk. She stated that she has sent the press release (yet another blog post) out over her networks.
Teiana asked what else she could do to help. My request was clear: please add people to the “think tank” group with the time, talent and energy to help accomplish the tasks at hand. Before the night was over, she added 9 more people.
One of my Brothers in Anchorage, found the THIRD MESSAGE FROM THE WALK FOR AMERICA’S CHILDREN on YouTube. It was “processing”, which means, I had not had a chance to “market” it yet. He posted it on Facebook.
I shared it. Then, began tagging people underneath. Catherine Datuin, a California-based homeless advocate, volunteered to fast (one meal a day) until Hari Dev and I reach Washington, D.C.
Hari Dev’s son Amar Das created a website for us. (Google: The Walk for America’s Children)
Hari Dev’s wife, Mukyha’s co-workers started creating profiles on “couchsurfing.com” to help us with housing. Her cousin, who lives in Vero Beach, took Hari Dev and I out to eat and made “End Child Hunger” t-shirts for us.
Right now, I am at a lost for words. For the past three years, I have suffered the criticism that I am “ego-driven”, not altruistically-driven. Why? Because all my critics see is me acting like a workhorse. Perhaps, with a few hands helping, the critics will finally begin to see a “Lead Coordinator”.
Note: Canada’s Dustin Quick is supervising fundraising efforts. To donate to The Walk for America’s Children please make follow this link to our Indiegogo campaign. Thanks to him and continuous marketing, a $400 donation came into the hands of the Lead Coordinator for “hotels and meals.” This was acknowledged via Facebook. The Lead Coordinator promised to make the accounting public via this blog.