Coming soon…

Time marches on.

I’m now approaching the three-month mark for unemployment. Given the state of the world and the state of Michigan, I can’t say I’m surprised. I have some hopeful applications out there, including two at places where I already have ties to some of the employees and the organization. So, there’s that.

But I’m tired of waiting around for something to happen. So tired of it, in fact, that I won’t do it anymore.

I’m a bit timid to reveal what I’m about to reveal, because I don’t want to jinx it. On the other hand, making it known publicly (to all three of you readers) means that I had better get a move on or risk looking stupid.

So, here’s the big announcement: I’m going into business for myself.

It comes down to this –

  1. There are people who want counseling but have no insurance.
  2. As a freshly minted counselor, I want to counsel but insurance companies won’t work with me, and
  3. There are organizations out there that want some extra cash.

Soon – I can’t put a date to it yet, but soon – I will start offering low-cost counseling to the uninsured or underinsured.

Not only is this something that is important for me on the basic survival level – the ability to obtain food, shelter and that other fun stuff – it’s meaningful. The way poor people are shut out from services they need in this country is shameful. Our health care and mental health care system in this country is a disgrace. I will be doing something to fix it.

I’ll be doing this on a sliding scale. The most I will charge is $50 and I will work my way down to $10. I won’t see anyone for free, because I’m already volunteering my time to see eight clients a week at the crisis center and at a second volunteer counseling agency. Eight hours a week and I’m not earning a dime as it is! (And that doesn’t include my 8-12 hours a week volunteering at the crisis hotline and the 2-5 hours a week in meetings at the same place. I may be unemployed, but I am still busy).

Where? Now that’s a good question. The “where” is the piece of the puzzle that’s missing right now, but I’ve got some good ideas about how to fix that.

My best option is to talk the crisis center where I have volunteered for more than two years into offering their counseling rooms for low-cost counseling. Under my proposal, only licensed professionals will be able to do this (there are four of us on staff currently) and the amount we charge will be capped. In return, a portion of our proceeds will go to the center. We will not be employees of the center but independent contractors, protecting the agency’s claim that we are an all-volunteer agency. We already have three available counseling rooms that stand around empty for all but four of five hours a week, and we are essentially paying for them through the mortgage and utility bill. It only makes sense to use them and to get some income from them.

If I strike out there, I can make a similar offer to other places. I figure I’ll start by going to churches and offering them 10 percent of all income (plus an additional 10 percent when a client is a member of their church) if they give me a room to use. It’s a room that would be sitting there open anyway, and this way they’ll make up to $40 a day by letting me use it. I can also make the offer to community centers, libraries, etc.

Once I have a place, I can let area agencies know I’m available. Places such as Community Mental Health and other area agencies may refer people who are uninsured but who don’t qualify for CMH help. I can put up a Website.  I can make it work. I know there are people out there looking for this.

I’ve already looked into some of the legwork I’ll need to do to get going. Liability insurance will cost about $160 for a year – entirely manageable. My supervisor (I have to pay her out of pocket even when I don’t have a job) has signed off on the idea and given me her blessing. I checked with the folks at the unemployment office today and my benefits won’t be cut with the first $50 I earn. In fact, I can earn up to $530-something a week and still get a portion of my unemployment. It’ll be like weaning me from the stuff.

I’ll need an accountant for all the tax junk. I can get a doing-business-as license for $10 from the county.

I can do this.

What I can’t do is sit still and wait for something to happen for me.

Oh yeah, one other thing I’ll be needing. A name for the business. Any ideas?

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