I have been asked a number of times over the years how needhelppayingbills.com was started as well as what my background is, but I have rarely if ever answered the inquires. Some of the blog entries have initiated even more questions, so republishing this as well as some other posts with questions. I will do that more from time to time. I just do not like talking about myself, and have only told a couple people this and have recently gotten burned. But with the start of a new phase of my life and tumultuous start to the year, I thought it may be a good time to express myself and answer this in writing.
I am one of 6 siblings. I have 3 older brothers, 1 older sister and one younger sister. When I was a young kid (around 13 or so,) my father, who was an alcoholic, left the family. He walked out on all of his kids and my mom, and he never paid a cent in alimony to help raise us.
He never called, visited, or contacted me again after he left, and the last I saw of him was his casket at his funeral a few years ago. Needless to say from the day my dad walked out I was part of a single mother household, of which about 33% live in poverty per the census bureau.
After he left, my mom had to immediately go back into the workforce, after being out of it for many years raising her six kids. She sometimes struggled to find work, and I remember later on helping her work on resumes and/or job searches as I kid. When she found employment, she worked mostly social work type jobs, in the day, evening, or nightshifts. She was able to, with I suspect financial support from my grandmother, help feed us kids, keep a roof over our heads, pay the bills, etc.
Even while working, she still always had a frozen or fresh meal for us when we came home from school, cleaned, did laundry, etc. In hindsight I have no idea how she did it! A warrior. She more than likely helped instill in me the motivation, drive, and fear of failure I have.
After my dad left, we had to cutback on everything. We had to move to more affordable housing. I remember scrounging for coupons to save money on food; as a kid I was constantly turning down the heat in the home and turning off lights to save money on utility bills; our car often needed repairs and/or was rusting. We did much more as well to save money on our bills.
Like many families, especially those from single parents, we cut back in every way possible. I also helped heat up meals for my mom, home when sister got back from school, and tried in my own small ways to help my mom raise us.
Employment and internet business
Even before my dad left, I was a paperboy. I probably started that job around 10 years of age. I continued that job until 16. However when I was 15 I also took a second job, and started working at Wegman’s, the regional grocery store. I was a 15 year old kid with 2 jobs as I worked at the store on weekends while also delivering papers during the week and delivering on weekends as well. I also invested in the stock market for the first time at around 16, and have done that ever since.
I worked at Wegmans until after college, maybe 24 or so. I worked overtime when I could, such as during college breaks. During my tenure there I was the only employee of the store to receive the employee of the month award twice. I also received one of their college scholarships, and I used that award, student loans as well as government financial aid, my own money from work, and some of my mom’s money to pay for college.
During college I held multiple jobs, often at the same time. I still worked at Wegmans (so commuted back home monthly and during breaks), was a resident assistant (RA) for a year, worked at the dining hall (in which I was promoted to student manager my junior year), and volunteered as a mentor at the business center my senior year. Hard, fulfilling, meaningful work helped me build some self-esteem and accomplishment that is often lacking from children whose parents walk out or leave on them.
At college I minored in economics with a major in Business Administration. I also was a computer science major for 2 years. All of that gave me knowledge for both the business and IT world.
After college, I found employment at a regional family owned convenience store/dairy. I was involved in real estate acquisition, property management, and similar activities in trying to help them build out their chain of convenience stores all across New York State. The company had us working 6 day work weeks as salaried employees! I held that job for a few years, in which I learned a ton as I often directly worked with the founders of the corporation as well as the owners. Then my family moved down South to North Carolina.
After moving I took a contractor, entry level job at a telecommunications/real estate hybrid corporation in Cary NC. I was soon hired on full time, and was soon promoted to director in the company at the age of about 27. I was the youngest person to ever be promoted to director level.
That company was sold around 2006, in which I relocated to Massachusetts as I was offered a job at the corporation that bought us out. I worked there in various management level roles until 2012. While working there, at American Tower (ATC), I started an internet company in 2006. It was focused on website development, optimization, domain development, advertising, and SEO among other things. The company grew as the economy crashed in 2006 – 2007.
I usually woke at 3am to work on my company, went to work at ATC from 7-5, then went home, worked on my internet business until 10 or so at night. I hired contractors, managed the growth of the internet business, and did many other things to grow my company with the tremendous help of contractors and others. I think for whatever reason being from a single parent home helped instilled in me a tremendous drive, which maybe was partly to help offset the negative self-esteem and emotions that are often found in kids of parents who leave them. Maybe I had to “prove” something to the dad who was no longer in my life.
Then I repeated the work cycle day in and day out (during day full time job at ATC…morning at nights my own company), with most weekends also devoted to working on growing my business. I did that for years. It was very tiring to say the least, but it gave me a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment. As did graduating, paying for some college on my own, and taking a chance at starting a business…they all lead to positive feelings.
During those years of founding an internet business, I saw there was a tremendous need to help low income families as the “great recession” hit, so I launched needhelppayingbills. I launched it is a separate website out of my internet company. The website has been running since 2007. Countless people have navigated to it over the years.
While we realize that not everyone will find the assistance they need on the site, as charities and government programs always change, funding comes and goes, programs end or are renamed, etc. I think that if even a few people can find help, or learn about financial assistance they may not have been aware of, the site can make a difference to those few people. It can be meaningful.
While of course there is much more to this story, and many more details, I think it is a good high level summary. If me, a kid from a difficult past, can start a business, develop some pride, and make this happen, I think anyone can. Maybe I will expand on this story sometime in a separate blog. Until then, we from needhelppayingbills.com hope you find the help you need on the site