Event Services or Advice? Hardship, Heartache & Helping Others…

Last year, while helping a person who used the contact link on my sister site, The Pawning Planners, it became apparent to me that the lady needing help with free counseling had been turned down or ignored by other sites over and over again before reaching out to us. 

I hear “if you hadn’t helped me no one would” on a regular basis because it’s true. 

I’m a counselor with Two Together In Texas and although I rarely have time for appointments these days due to my overburdened schedule, I have connections and suggestions that can help people even when I can’t. 

Problems? We find solutions. We’ve never told someone to buzz off when they had a problem. We listened and on more than a few occasions, had a family meeting to bounce around ideas on how to help someone as a family. 

My entire family work with me at Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners, Texas Prison Weddings and Texas Twins Treasures.

My new friend who was on the edge of giving up and I emailed back and forth for weeks staying in touch and still do. This lady had been so distraught over losing her child that she was considering suicide by the time she went to my site. 

Eventually, this lady overcame losing her son with the help of therapists and even found a job doing what she loved. 

What she actually needed when contacting me was someone to listen and give her insight. 

What she didn’t need was for someone else to ignore her. Although she wasn’t contacting me for a service, we became friends. 

Not many Event vendors are willing to help someone who obviously isn’t planning to hire them for services but, I’m a good listener and creative when trying to find a solution. Why? I’ve had to be. 

When someone’s house burned down and they had no money to buy clothes for their children, I reached out on FB and helped them get by in time for school. I’m often contacted by others “who heard” someone else needed help to see if we can help. 

When you have a reputation for helping people, it often takes a bit of planning and execution to get the job done but at the end of the day, resilience builds character. We don’t give up easily.

Our friends and connections realize that many times they just might have something to help laying around their homes. Outgrown clothes or old toys aren’t a hand me down when you have nothing. New to you is a generous gift indeed for a friend in need.

My twin sister and I have overcome so many obstacles in our lives that we’ve learned to “think in a circle” when finding solutions for other people’s problems when they have nowhere else to turn. 

When clients couldn’t afford photography, I bought cameras and learned how to use them. Friends donated their cameras and we overcame the issue of financial limitations for event photography.When I realized that many families couldn’t afford to have flowers for their event, I spent weeks creating bouquets and bouteniers to loan them. 

One family needed centerpieces so I created thirty centerpieces to loan them as well as other families.  Still another family needed flower baskets and a ring pillow along with champagne flutes and a cake tray. Before I knew it, I had created an entire inventory to loan to Clients. Loaned inventory is used by more than half of all clients from Texas Twins Events and The Pawning Planners. 

I don’t believe in barriers. If we don’t know how to do something, we learn. Cross training is essential to my team being able to address or overcome something unexjected.

As teens, my sister and I had very few clothes and our first apartment never had electricity. Why? We couldn’t afford to pay the deposit and have it turned on. 

At eighteen years old, we survived by eating at the restaurants we worked at and enjoying cold green beans at home or cereal that didn’t require a refrigerator. Electricity is a luxury if you are poor. 

Our furniture back then was a hodgepodge of orange chairs and a gold couch someone had left on the curb but, our apartment was always clean. Old sheets were our curtains. 

You never forget being poor or hungry. We learned to work harder than anyone else because we were thankful to have a job. Having the right clothes to look for a job is a hurdle that we’ve helped so many people overcome that I don’t even have a good idea of the number of times I’ve dug through my closets to gift my old clothing to someone in need because it’s such a regular occurrence. 

We partner with numerous women’s shelters and help these ladies transition back into the workplace. It’s a group effort.

Paychecks meant freedom for Cindy and I and gave us security. Sure, these paychecks weren’t always worth rejoicing about but, we realized that by going to work, we were going to get paid! We pooled our resources and shared everything we had. 

I’m a good listener probably because for many years I stuttered so badly that I gave up trying to speak as a child and listened to others instead. 

By the time I was fourteen, I learned to sing along to songs on the radio and with the help of speech therapists, finally overcame my inability to speak a sentence without upsetting anyone trying to patiently wait for me to “spit it out.” 

My sister never lost patience waiting on what I was trying to tell her but, everyone else did. From teachers to family members or even complete strangers, no one wanted to wait long enough to hear what I was trying to tell them. 

I learned to be patient at a young age. Giving the patience to others that only my sister gave to me would later be a gift to them. We live in a world of instant gratification. Everyone is in a hurry. Hurrying to get home or hurrying to go to work. Road rage these days is a dangerous fact of everyone being in a hurry and no one going fast enough to accommodate their needs. It’s sad but true. 

Common courtesy isn’t the norm anymore that it was when I was a child. Please or thank you or even the standard “yes ma’am” or “yes sir” are so shocking these days that it becomes quickly apparent to me that many people don’t have time to acknowledge you holding the door for them unless they are over 40 years old. That’s right I said forty years old. Why? Because young people aren’t interested in being courteous unless of course, their parents took the time to teach them core values. 

The exception to being over forty is Military Members. I’ve yet to meet anyone serving or retired from the military who lacked manners. 

As children, we were taught to address everyone older than us as Sir or Ma’am. Other people our age did too but, kids these days are often celebrated “for just being them” to such an extent that acknowledging others has flown out the window in their quest for the perfect selfie or other self indulgent behaviors. 

The “Me Generation” is so focused on themselves that taking a moment to listen to a stranger or help them is becoming far less of a daily, weekly or even yearly event.

I once had someone ask me why I was willing to help them when there was nothing in it for me. Surprised, I responded “because kindness creates hope.” 

Last night while watching my feisty Beagle trying to decide if I might be wandering into the kitchen or not, a FB message on my business page literally changed my evening.

The lady contacting me had left her zip code but skipped which Event Service she needed. The message was either an accident or she was confused? Unsure, I messaged her back and asked how we could help? 

For the next two hours as my husband slept down the hall, I learned more about what was actually going on and why she had decided to reach out. 

It was a sad story. I knew from the zip code that she was within ten miles of my location. She had moved here in 2000 but was out of work as she was a crossing guard at M. L. Phillips where both of my nieces had attended elementary school. Being out of work and without a car, she was quite depressed. 

We discussed a few ideas of finding work near her. I had seen a sign at the cleaners seeking help and suggested applying there to her since I knew that her apartment was within a mile of the cleaners. 

I’ve used the same cleaners for over ten years and established a relationship with Maria over the years. Maria works for minimum wage and has two children. For years I’ve donated clothing and toys from our family to hers and often brought her a drink or lunch since I know she can’t leave as she works alone. 

Last year, Maria asked me about a birthday party for her daughter. Maria knows we help people and occasionally sponsor events out of our pockets or sales from Texas Twins Treasures and occasionally bookings from Texas Twins Events. I immediately agreed to sponsor the birthday party and my family joined me helping decorate, taking photos for the family and buying gifts. My Texas Twins Events Team work together to make Dream Events a Reality. 

I messaged Maria and told her I had someone that needed a job and worked out picking up an application for my new friend Monday. 

Since it surprises a few people that now and then an event service has nothing to do with a Wedding, Funeral, Birthday Party, Baptism or other Event Service we offer but, I’m open minded.

Last year, another lady needed help with a fence that had fallen down. She needed panels and poles. I ran a free ad on Craigslist to solve her problem. My twin sister and I delivered the panels and posts and neighbors helped put the fence back up. Was anyone else willing to help her solve her problem? NO. For free? Absolutely not. 

The truth is that we’ve helped people with problems as long as I can remember. Sometimes they just need advice and occasionally, they need more. 

Strangers are afraid to get their hands dirty helping someone else but, we aren’t. Why? We had no one to help us. Experience is a good teacher. We are the friends we have never met. Open minded? Absolutely. My sister and I left the restaurant business in our twenties when we learned that sales was where the money was at. For thirty years we worked in brand promotion, luxury goods and successfully outsold our coworkers because we “needed” our jobs as single mothers after our divorces. 

We worked harder we didn’t call in sick and we never said “that’s not my job.” Now and then at one job or another, we found a greedy boss who wanted you to sell but didn’t want to pay a commission or a boss that knew you outsold everyone else but “were making too much money on commission.” 

There were many times when we should have left a job but didn’t because we valued job security far more than we valued our ability to sell and establish client relationships. We were worthy of more but fearful of change. That fear no longer haunts our decision making process because my sister and I learned long ago that “without rush there are no rewards.” 

Back when I started Texas Twins Events, I also worked part time as a Brand Ambassador for P&G. My manager was unorganized as all get out and frequently messaged me after leaving a store regarding something that needed to be done. Putting out a display or checking stock or coordinating with a store manager about product placement. I consistently wondered how the heck she kept her job in all honesty. 

On my day off several years ago, she called me about “forgetting” to tell me to put out a display and aid that she would take care of it. I didn’t like her doing my job but since I couldn’t go in on a scheduled day off, wasn’t in a position to oppose. 

The following week I had a message about the wrong display being put on the floor. I reminded my manager that I hadn’t put out the display. To my shock and horror- Alice wouldn’t admit to her boss that she had made the mistake and I was reprimanded. 

The stores near my home in nice areas were reassigned to someone else and I was sent to the tough part of town miles from my home because my manager was a coward and a liar. Alice never admitted to her boss that it was she who had made the mistake and not I. Needless to say, I quit.

Throughout my life I’ve worked two and sometimes three jobs to get by and know hardship. There were so many times that I should’ve quit and didn’t that I’m always reminded of how predictability made me feel safe. 

My sister had a job working for Hawk Electronics years ago. She was paid to set appointments and was very good at it because she checked crime reports. Her clothes were from Goodwill and many of the female office workers poked fun at her dresses. 

Cindy was a single mother to two daughters and shrugged off the taunts to focus on feeding her kids. The salespeople often “skirted” Cindy’s commissions by saying that they had set the appointment. After months of being cheated, my sister presented her notes and detailed dates and times of speaking with clients to set the appointments. Rather than reimbursing her, the manager told her that the commissions had already been paid. She quit the job that cheated her and blew a kiss to the mean sales ladies. Why? Because that job was the best thing that was going to happen to them. The snooty ladies didn’t realize that while feeling superior in their nice clothes and fancy shoes to my sister that they would one day be the people someone ride would make fun of. 

Idiot managers make your life miserable but, there are a lot of them. Idiot coworkers are a hassle too but at least they aren’t signing your checks. 

I worked security at CSC when my son was six years old and I was going through a divorce. Three years on the job and my first and only office birthday party at work later, my manager saw me wearing a mink coat and was upset about it. 

Although the cost was later used to get my son and I into an apartment and was a gift from my ex husband, my manager was jealous that a lowly employee like me had something that she couldn’t afford. Sitting in her office after being called in, she actually told me that she knew I was struggling through a divorce and didn’t care because I had that coat and laid me off. 

Devastated that I could be laid off over wearing a coat, I bought a newspaper and found a better job. 

Years later, my friend Virginia who had worked with me at CSC told me that my old manager had fallen on hard times. Kharma it’s a bitch. That lady always treated me like a dog and I always worked harder than anyone else because I needed a job really needed a job. 

The coat was hard earned in a marriage that took my self esteem and having to apologize for having it didn’t occur to me.

I have always celebrated others successes but, I’ve met many people who didn’t. 

Like Cindy in her secondhand dresses being targeted for being different, I was facing a boss who believed I couldn’t afford to have something she didn’t. 

Years and years later when I was told that I was making more money than my managers due to my commission, I was again called into the managers office and made a deal. 

Rather than paying a menial hourly wage (that I didn’t really care about because the money was in the commission) I was told my bosses were cutting my commission, and that I would be paid an hourly wage of $13.65 with insurance. The actual cost to me to take away 10% in commissions? About $17k a year. 

The cut of my commission forced me to take a second job. What I should’ve done was quit. Why I didn’t was because I was in a child custody battle and needed a stable job. My manager was aware of my legal issues and effectively used it to keep me under the thumb. 

Working two jobs after the commission cut, I will never forget not having enough money to take my son to the movies after paying my attorneys and bills. After I won custody of my son, I quit. 

Ten years of selling more than anyone else and not being compensated for it along with having to take on another job to make ends meet had left me with a chip on my shoulder.

The reason I’m telling you this is to better understand where I’ve been and what I’ve learned and also why I’m the way I am. 

My sister and I struggled for years simply to survive. We no longer have to do that because we learned to circle our wagons and join together to overcome obstacles.

In learning to take care of ourselves, we also learned how to help others. We met selfish people along the way. Some of them only cared about how much money we could make them while others made fun of our clothing. 

We’ve been the Friendless and we’ve been down and out but, we aren’t anymore. We learned our value and learned when to move on. We were always courteous and have never felt sorry for ourselves because we didn’t have the time.

Survivors of many things, my sister and I are also often Friends of the Friendless. We are willing to listen and willing to give advice. 

Our children and grandchildren have seen us go into homes with no windows or floors and help people no one else was willing to help. They’ve helped us unload groceries or drive someone to a shelter. 

Our children and grandchildren haven’t been “shielded” from poverty and put on pedestals. When they wanted money, they worked for it. They’ve never went without but, they’ve never had the latest and greatest gadgets or sneakers either. We could’ve spoiled the grandchildren but choose not to because spoiled children or grandchildren don’t have a kind heart.

At three years old, my twin grandnieces were “working” at weddings as flower girls and ring bearers for tips. They enjoyed being on location with us and meeting new people. 

One day at a Pawning Planners meeting, Maryssa asked why their house was so hot? I told her they had no air conditioning and she asked me why. “Because they are struggling. Maybe they have never had an air conditioner because it was something that they couldn’t afford.” 

My grandniece was seven years old and suddenly realized that she lived in a home with air conditioning and plenty of food when someone else didn’t. She helped us buy food for the reception after the wedding with her allowance and proudly told the kids that she liked Cheetos and Coke so she bought plenty so they would have some for the next day.

Compassion isn’t something every child knows. It isn’t something every adult knows. Compassion is learned. 

In a world of ongoing political rants and arguments over religion with the latest news full of more depressing reality, listening to someone who needs a kind ear or insight is unheard of these days but, it isn’t unheard of for me. If there’s a way to find resolution or a solution, I will work to find it. 

I’m old and I’m wise. I’ve struggled and I’ve survived and I’ve learned the value of a kind word or a helping hand to someone who didn’t expect anything…