Mom - 0 miles, 0 hours
The day is finally here. When I told you 8 months ago that I was planning on buying a motorcycle and traveling across the country, you were likely nervous, scared, and probably even a little upset. And who could blame you? Why leave your family, friends, and well-paying job for 6 months, and on top of that, why does it have to be on a motorcycle? All perfectly reasonable questions to ask, but regardless of what initial reactions you may have had to the whole thing, in true Peg fashion, you trusted me and supported me in my decision, and never looked back.
Then, in true Jonathan fashion, I decided to never really talk about the trip all that much, and in a lot of ways, I feel I have you and others somewhat in the dark on the whole thing. I think it's always been pretty routine of me to not open up about certain things, especially those I hold so close and dear to my heart, and so hopefully in this letter, I'll be able to give you a better idea of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. After which I'll need to keep writing and updating you, but let's start with the basics first.
When it comes to the what, my time away is not overly complicated. I want to support low-income children and families across the US, in whatever way, shape, or form I can. It's as simple as that. During my last four years working at Deloitte I've had the chance to help the State of Wisconsin enhance and maintain their online applications that support the application and eligibility determination of many public assistance programs provided by the Department of Health Services and the Department of Children and Families. In that time I was indirectly supporting those in need through the applications I was working on, but I only had limited opportunities to work directly with the individuals on the programs, or the workers who helped administer them. So for the next six months, one major shift I'm looking for in the work I do on a daily basis, is to not only support those in need, but to engage directly with the individuals in these communities, and gain a better understanding of what kind of support they're currently receiving, what organizations are doing to deliver this support, and whether or not the support is actually working.
With that in mind, and being the nerd I have always been, there is also a secondary goal, which is to take the above a step further, and see how technology plays a role in the administration of assistance programs. While working at the State, technology played a massive role, but that was in part due to the mandates set forth by the federal government to embrace and adopt technology practices. In the non-government social sector, technology does not always go hand in hand with program administration and for good reason I'm sure. Technology can be extremely expensive, especially for smaller non-profit organizations, and the inherent benefit from technology is sometimes hard to see. Everywhere I go and with every organization I work with, I hope to have a chance to talk with organizations about how technology currently plays a role in their program administration, and if possible, help them try to understand or improve upon the way they can use technology in the future. The intersection of technology and social service is where I really think I can make an impact in years to come, so hopefully this trip can also serve as a kickstart to that journey and exploration.
As for the why, well that's because you and Dad told me to. Never directly, but you have both always instilled in Caroline and I a deep desire to help others and to be there to support those in need. Because of your hard work we were able to grow up in a household with close to everything we could ever need. Sure we had some hard times but at the end of the day we always had a roof over our heads, food on the table, and a family to love. It breaks my heart that these three simple things are no where near guaranteed for every child in the United States, and while I know it will likely never be the case, I'm sure as hell ready to do whatever I can to help.
Okay, I think that's enough writing for one day. I mean the trip hasn't even started! At this rate I'll have a book to publish by the end of it. Just as you always say to me Mom, I want you to know that I love you so much and I care deeply about you. I promise to stay safe and call/write often.
Love you lots,