Did you know that being an entrepreneur is my 20th job? It’s true, each one, a stepping stone, leading me to the path I am on now. Because I have had so many jobs, I have acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge that has helped me become an expert on many subjects.
My first job in the helping profession was also the most intense. At the age of 25 and married for only a year, my wife and I became Therapeutic Foster Parents for at-risk youth in Maine for a company called Spurwink. As I reflect now, I attribute this incredible experience for laying the groundwork to what unknowingly became a career.
Spurwink intentionally recruited international couples from around the world to work as Therapeutic Foster Parents. Because we were able to obtain J1 Training Visas for 18 months, it was much easier for the company to retain staff. The experience was life changing. I learned how to create structure, consistency, and routine and realized it was not just for the kids in our care; I realized how much I thrived on it as well. I think the most important thing I learned was not to make promises.
The kids would often try to have me commit to something by asking me to promise. I quickly realized why this was important for them. Trust was a major issue for these kids, the people in their lives who promised to care for them broke that promise. They were testing me; they wanted me to promise so that when it fell through I would be placed in the same category as everyone else who had lost their trust. I refused, and although this frustrated them to no end during the first few months, they later respected me for this and learned to trust me. To this day, I won’t promise anything to anyone.
As I mentioned earlier, this was an intense job. However, through it all, my wife and I felt very supported by the other Therapeutic Foster Parents, Supervisors, Counsellors and Administrators. Spurwink set the bar so high; no other company I’ve worked for has come close to matching the level of support we received as employees. Nor have I worked for a company that provided the level of care or innovative approaches to connecting with kids in care. Even now, when I mention Spurwink in a professional setting having worked there gives me immediate credibility.
A decade has passed since my wife, and I left, but we remain in close contact with our friends from our time in Maine, some who continue to work for Spurwink and those who have moved on. I always love hearing from my friend Bill Messer, Director of the Casco Program. Bill just happened to be in town for work this week and it was great seeing him again!
Interested in learning about some other cool jobs I’ve had along the way? Click here to check out this previous post about learning how to count at age 24 when I became a Black Jack Dealer in Lake Tahoe!
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