The Path of Life

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Melina: Now, don't laugh when you hear the introduction.

Damien: Oh, I won't.

Melina: You can laugh.

Damien: Just on the inside.

Melina: Yeah. Oh, you can laugh on the outside.

Narrator: Welcome to Flippin Off, a purpose driven podcast about flipping houses and making a difference.

Dave: Yes. I love that. Hey, Dave Boswell here along with my wife Melina Boswell, founders of New Wealth Advisors Club. And today, we are doing something completely different. We're really not talking real estate, we're really not here teaching about real estate. We're talking about just the community and service and the need to give back and I believe with wealth comes responsibility. And we have a special guest here this morning with us, the CEO of Path of Life Ministries, Mr. Damien O'Farrell. And I just wanna say thank you first and foremost for being here this morning. I know your schedule is super tight, super busy and you got a lot going on. So thank you so much for taking a moment out this morning to hang out with us here.

Damien: Absolutely. My pleasure.

Melina: This is the making a difference part of Flippin Off.

Damien: This is the making a difference. I know.

Melina: This is the making a difference.

Damien: Making a different segment or addition.

Melina: Yeah, just part of it or in addition. Yeah, segment, just living on of that. So it's not just words. It's not like a tagline, right?

Damien: It's an extension of what you guys already do.

Melina: Absolutely.

Dave: And so I'm gonna back up for just a minute so those that are listening. So prior to our relationship with Path of Life, prior to even meeting Damien and so forth, Melina and I, we kind of shared awhile back if you maybe listen to some of the different podcasts and so forth. But, you know, there's been some times where we've really, really struggled in life and even with our own bills, and our own finances and food and so forth, and, you know, even having come from, you know, a point in my life being homeless and that struggle, if you will.

And so, several years ago before really the club got off the ground, you know, my wife and I, we were going to a really small church and inside that church there were some people that were...you know, we were struggling. There's always somebody struggling more. You know, there's always, you know, somebody else that has a need. And there was, you know, some people there that...the churches are like a really small food bank and we decided that we were going to help with that food bank and not really knowing how we were going to continually sustain that food bank. But we volunteered to continue to supply food for people that were inside of our church and specifically inside the community that needed help.

And we did that and one thing led to another and suddenly we were running a year round food bank. And those of you that have been to the club or if you ever come out to experience the club and you walk in the lobby and you go, "Why is all the staff piled up?"

Melina: We're not hoarders.

Dave: That's because we just had a club meeting and our members come in and one of the things that we ask of all of them is that they go in their own pantries, they go and purpose themselves and bring something to supply for the needs of the community. And it's pretty special. It has been...I mean, it's way more of a blessing for us than it ever is for somebody else. We'll talk more about that.

So this huge story, I could take hours actually talking about it and I don't wanna do that today. I wanna get to the nuts and bolts of what's happening and really, I wanna hear a little bit about some of the things that you guys have going on, the vision that you have for this community specifically and how New Wealth Advisors Club and Path of Life and how we're collaborating and doing...it's just remarkable. It's amazing. So with that, we've got this food bank going. It gets going and it grows. I mean, it grew fast. I gotta give it up to our club members who have just...You know, we tell them, bring...We ask them, "Hey, bring one thing from your pantry," and people show up with boxes and like sacks of groceries and carloads full of groceries. We've had people bring, you know, entire truck beds full of groceries and it's just been remarkable how much stuff has come through our club.

Damien: They love to give.

Dave: Yeah, they really do. And so we had to find other places to be able to spread the food. I mean, they're just...we filled the need in our sphere of influence. And in our church, suddenly we're like, "We have too much food. You know, these people are gonna be eating and getting fat if they eat all this food." And so that's not responsible. So that kind of lead you, Honey, meeting some people that, maybe you can kind of share that journey of how you might have ultimately ended up on Path of Life which, gosh, what a crazy series of events. You meet some people. We hear about some people. "We're looking for ways to get rid of this food." And what happened?

Melina: Yeah, well, you know, I always say, I didn't seek out to serve the homeless population. I feel like they found me, which in my mind makes it the most authentic. You know, because I believe that there's nothing truly ultraistic. I know that there's huge reward and pleasure in giving to people. And so I've always kind of been about that. And I don't know...I don't even know how I met some people. I was at some event and met somebody and was invited to be on a board, a nonprofit board, and that led me to me being introduced to Damien. And then Damien asked me...actually, you became CEO the same year that you invited me to be on the board, on the board of directors for Path of Life. And that sort of opened up what's really where my heart was. I had no idea that I had such a passion and a deep, deep love for people that are, in my mind, just underserved, you know.

Dave: Just wanna stop you there for a really quick second just to give an introduction. So thepathoflife.com, for those of you who are checking us out. Obviously, you know about New Wealth Advisors Club because you're sitting on this podcast, but thepathoflife.com is the organization that Damien is the CEO of. And your mission is really awesome. So they have a mission to rescue, restore, and rebuild. And I think that's...you know, for me, you know, I always thought about the homeless, the idea of like, we gotta rescue them. You know, coming from a previous law enforcement background, I had to solve the immediate problem which was, there's a homeless person on my porch, I don't know what to do with them. Move them. And that was the extent of it, right?

Damien: Sure.

Dave: I would love before we get into some of the nuts and bolts of it, I would love for you just to share with us, Damien, about...I mean, you're taking on a big cause, a really big cause and it doesn't come without opposition at the same time.

Damien: Absolutely.

Dave: There's definitely a huge need and you guys have done an amazing job of that. So if you wouldn't mind just kind of sharing with us, give us, you know, an overview of what is the mission of Path of Life and tell us more about what are you guys doing right now.

Damien: Sure. So our mission is, first and foremost, it's birthed out of the call to love our neighbor as ourselves. And it's us walking that out as an organization in the community as best as we can, and internally we're trying to suggest this love, mercy, and walk humbly in everything that we do. So those are the two real driving factors. And the need that we, the organization stumbled upon 14 years ago now was a great need for helping people who are homeless, first and of foremost, get off the street, get into a safe place where they could feel safe and secure and start to think about moving forward in their lives.

And then, you know, we built from there, starting from that place, seeing that need and going, "What can we do, how can we love these neighbors of ours that don't have an address?" And so we believe that every person who finds themselves stuck in a situation of homelessness deserves the opportunity, the real opportunity if they're willing to put whatever they can toward it, to get out of that situation. And we see it as our goal to create that path, to create that opportunity for folks, depending upon where they're at, what they have to work with, what they're struggling with, whatever that is, just whatever path they need, we wanna create that clear pathway.

Children especially, you know, on the preventative side. Children should all have a safe place to call home where they're not worried about where they're gonna sleep, they're not worried about where the next meal is coming from. They're not worried about whether or not their family is going to be stable enough to provide for their basic human needs so that they can concentrate on getting an education and doing the things that we all want our children to be able to do.

The reality is that for many people in our community, thousands of people in our community, that's not the reality that they know. They're struggling, they're trying their best, working with what they know how to work with, and can't seem to get out of that cycle, either of poverty or a situation of homelessness. So we work with them on an individual basis, helping them to find a whole and healthy life.

Dave: Wow. I mean, it's almost a daunting task as I sit there listening to you talk about it, it's like it's so big, right? It's so big. And there's just so many people that talk about it but, you know, so few people that are actually getting up and doing something about it. And I've had the privilege of experiencing really you two, you know, obviously, Melina being, you know, coming home and telling me all about the different crazy ideas because I say crazy, sometime...

Damien: That's where the magic happens.

Dave: You wanna do what? And then I always say, but God, you know. But God. And I've watched, you know, this whole relationship flourish. And I'll be honest with you, when she first came home and told me in the very, very beginning about, you know, I got asked to be on the board of directors and I wanna go interview and this kind of thing. And I was like, "Okay, how are you gonna do that? You know, we have so much going on and there's, you know, our own club, and there's all these people, and there's all this stuff." And she kind of shared with me, "Well, I think as a club, you know, we could...our synergies are really aligned and there's no reason why we can't figure out how to collaborate on all this." And, you know, my experience with homelessness was definitely...was very, very eye-opening the first time I went to the shelter, because, I mean, when she came home and told me about it, I'll be honest with you. I said, "No."

Melina: Yeah, there's the truth.

Dave: I wasn't on board. I wasn't supportive. I was actually scared. You know, there was a part of me that said, you know, as society, we label homelessness, right? we see the person on the street who has, you know, all their belongings sometimes in a shopping cart and panhandling and, you know, drunk, or strung out or whatever. And that's our whole label for homelessness, right? So that was my...

Melina: Prejudice.

Dave: That was my prejudice, my stereotyping. That's all I had ever seen. And I showed up to the shelter, you know, because I was doing my due diligence as her husband and trying to like...And I remember walking in, and I'll never forget the day I walked in and I saw there's a bunch of people sitting there. And I was like, "Who are these people?" And she goes...

Melina: Our guests.

Dave: "Those are our guests." And I go, "Huh? They're just normal. That guy has a laptop. She's on her cellphone. That person is on a computer. What are they doing?" And she was like, "Well, they're working. They're working programs, looking for jobs. They're doing all this different stuff." And I was like, "They don't look anything like what I envisioned as homeless."

Damien: It's homeless, you know, and the adult shelter.

Dave: Yeah.

Melina: Yes.

Damien: You weren't seeing the babies in the cribs?

Melina: He hadn't seen the babies yet.

Dave: Yeah. And, oh my gosh, I feel like such a jerk because, you know, I just didn't know what I didn't know, you know. So, you know, from that point forward, I told her, "Okay, I'm behind you 100%. What can we do?" And really, when I say "we," I mean, Melina and I can only do so much. You and Melina can only do so much. Your board can only do so much. It's really about the community and getting everybody involved with, you know, working to solve this problem that's, you know, a never ending one.

Damien: Absolutely.

Dave: So I just wanna make sure everybody that's listening to this, you know, when you maybe have that same experience because it's kind of how we are as a society now just realizing, you know, there's a lot of people out there that...I mean, I had stories. I'll never forget the one story.

The lady that, and I'm not mentioning any names, but this is the lady that was sitting there and she said, you know, I asked her, how you got here. And she said, "I got in a car accident." And I was like, "You got in a car accident. So how, you know...?" "Well, I was in the hospital for...while I was recovering and I lost my job while I was recovering and my boss couldn't afford to keep paying me while I was in the hospital. My insurance covered me to get a new, you know, little car. I got a new little car but I got kicked out of my apartment because I couldn't pay my rent and a safer place for me and my son to be was here in the shelter rather than sleeping in our car while I was working to get a security deposit together for a new apartment."

And just, it was mind boggling. And so I just wanna commend you guys for what you do because it's definitely, definitely overlooked, probably taken for granted. And so, my own admission if you will, not really understanding and being really closed off to it.

Damien: Well, thank you. Thank you for allowing your opinion and what you care about to change, because it takes all of us. We can't do it alone. Us as an organization can't do it alone. We need partners like the Boswells, like New Wealth Advisors, like many, many others in our community to come alongside our efforts and other efforts to create solutions.

And it is daunting. I constantly say around our office and our organization, "One step at a time," because the work is heavy, the workload is heavy, and what's even heavier than what we currently have on our plate is what we know needs to be done. That weighs on us even more than what we currently have on our plates. But we know that it can be done. We take it one step at a time. We let God lead and we put all of our efforts and we see miracles happen. We really do.

When I first met Melina, it was my predecessor that introduced me to her as a possible person for the board as we were making a transition in the organization and as Melina started telling me about New Wealth Advisors and what it is that you do as an organization but more about why you do it, I felt there was an immediate alignment. It was in my heart. You know, we're doing the same things here. We're rebuilding in different ways and we're restoring in different ways, both in people's lives and physical locations, which we both do.

And just knowing or hearing at that time that you truly cared about the people that you worked with, that's what it's all about. It's us caring about those that are immediately in our sphere of influence and those that we work alongside and then expanding that out. What I heard you just say right now, Dave, is that your sphere was expanded beyond what it was before to include more work, more activity that you didn't think that you could fit in before, and more love, which you didn't feel like you could fit before. And I really think that's what it's all about. As we do that, our world becomes more whole.

Dave: No, for sure. You know, a couple...I guess, if we look at the timeline of, you know, providing, you know, building this food bank, if you will, right? We wanna say, "Okay, we wanna make sure we have enough food." We build that out. And I remember there was a time...So there are certain things for me, you know, I'm very detail-oriented. I'm really good at putting together plans and I need to know where those plans are going and working on some of that stuff. So it's been a challenge for me because, we'd walk in and...

Melina: I'll just say "yes."

Dave: Melina will say "yes" to everything and then suddenly, we go, "We have no place to put all of this food. What are we going to do?"

Melina: It's not just food now. Now it's a...

Dave: "It's a mess." Well, that's where I was going. And so, a couple of years back, we were looking in the club and we're like, "Okay, so we're running out of space. We need more room." And keeping in mind, we had already done that two years prior to that where we ran out of space. We went from, you know, a little office of 2,000 square feet to building out 5,000 square feet, to, "Okay, we need more room." And what happened was definitely a progression if you will, because we said, "Not only do we need space for our own, people in the club and the investors, all the collaboration that's happening there, but we've gotta build a space for all the donations. We've got to build a space for the food and something in a warehouse."

So that to me, you know, warehouse spaces, you know, I look at and go, "It's a waste of money, right? Because, after all, we're just putting stuff in a spot and paying somebody for doing that." And so, you know, it seemed like a waste of resources, if you will. You know, I put together an idea and a plan. I said, "Okay, this is what we're gonna do and this will be plenty of space." Oh, my gosh, we can never fill this. Now, we're 10,000 square feet. It will never happen.

Oh, my gosh. So this last weekend, it's progressed so much. We went from the food bank...and I want you guys to share more about the program and what you're doing with that, why we're doing all this. We now have furniture, and we have bedding, I mean, refrigerators and stoves and microwaves.

Melina: Housewares.

Dave: Housewares and, oh my gosh, all this stuff. And so our warehouse, if you've ever seen what it looks like, have hoarders. I don't know when the last time you were over there, Damien. What hit me was just two weeks ago, a family showed up and they came over and they said, "We need food." You know, that's kind of a...it's a regular thing that happens around there, every other day. Two, three, four times a week, somebody, you know, Path of Life, somebody calls and says, "We're sending over, you know, this family, they need X, Y, and Z." And we just open the doors and they take whatever they need.

And they showed up and said, "We need food." And we opened the doors and we couldn't get to the food. There was so much stuff. There was not even a pathway to walk. The warehouse is about, I don't know, 2,000 square feet. We could not walk. It was so stuffed. And I felt horrible for this family because they couldn't go shopping. We call it "going shopping." Grab a bag and grab whatever you need and they couldn't get in there. So there's kids there and we're like, "There's a ton of stuff here and we can't get to it. Like, this is a problem and we need to immediately to fix this."

Inside of our club, all these people that are so interested in donating, I had a few contractors that had said, "You just give me the word and we'll build a mezzanine," because it's about 22 feet of empty space up above us. And they said, "We'll build a mezzanine and we'll donate all the labor. I'll bring my guys, we'll donate all the labor." In fact, another guy from our group works at a lumber yard and talked to his boss and his boss said, "We'd love to be able to do that. We'll donate all the lumber." And somebody said, "Well, the only thing we can't get donated are the screws. We can't find any way to donate the screws." And I said, "Well, we'll buy the screws."

Melina: We'll buy.

Dave: We'll buy the screws. And in literally eight days' time, you don't know this, but in eight days' time, I sent out a note and I said, "Okay, we're ready to go. We need to build this." we had somewhere between 12 and 14 contractors show up at 6:30 in the morning on Saturday. Prior to that, 5:00 in the evening on Friday, we had what? Twenty-five, 30?

Melina: Yeah, 25 or 30 people.

Dave: Twenty-five or 30 people take everything out of this 2,000 square feet warehouse, move it into our parking lot. We then had multiple guys said, "I'll stay up all night. I will stand guard of all the stuff so it doesn't get stolen overnight," because we can't move it from the parking lot back in there. Guys will show up at 6:30 in the morning and by 4:00 that afternoon, there was a second story built. That quick. That quick. The next shift came on and said, let's put it all back together.

Melina: And organize it.

Damien: And organize it. And by, I don't know, 9:00 or 10:00 the next night, it is built, it is done. There is a ton of room and we're looking forward to that next chapter.

Melina: Yeah, more stuff.

Damien: The way you do it.

Dave: More stuff. And where I was standing, somebody just said, "I got boxes of pillows."

Damien: So many good metaphors in there. Not having the space..."We don't have enough space." "Yes we do. It's right there." To the family coming and you have what they need. It's already there. They just can't get to it. They need somebody to help them make a path, right? You did it.

Dave: Yeah, we created that path.

Melina: I think, Damien, if you wouldn't mind sharing the Rapid Rehousing Program, because I think that's an important key. That was kind of the real game changer for us.

Damien: It was, it was.

Dave: That's when you came home doing cartwheels and...

Melina: Yeah. It was really really exciting.

Dave: Was that a year ago now?

Damien: Yes, it was. So we started July of 2015 is when we started that program. And so what Melina is talking about, and it's not a brand new way, but it was a new way for us as Path of Life to help homeless individuals get off the street and get into housing of their own that can be sustainable and that they can stay in for forever if they so chose to. Rapid Rehousing or Housing First is a model that creates a new pathway for somebody to get out of the situation of homelessness. Traditional model is, you know, you go into the shelter and then, hopefully, you can get into something transitional and then, hopefully, you can get into housing. But you have to be able to navigate that entire system and have the wits and the skills about you to do it.

And it doesn't work for everybody, especially if they have high barriers, you know, if there's multiple mental health diagnoses or physical disabilities or developmental disabilities. And those are often the folks that we see still on the street. And the longer that they're on there on the street, the more dysfunctional they can become, and the more diagnoses that build up and they get to the point where, you know, even when they're offered help, they often won't accept it at first.

However, we've learned that if we can build trust and they will trust us, they will eventually get to the place of saying, "Yes, okay, I'll try it." And we have to have a pathway for them to get out of that situation quickly. And so what we've done both for individuals in that situation and for families who really, if they just had a long enough period of time in a stable place, they can get back on their feet, we've created housing that they can move directly into straight off the street, straight from their shelter immediately and that housing is subsidized for a period of time.

We subsidize that through grants that we receive to help them get to the place where they can eventually take on the rent for that housing that they're in on their own. And that takes some people longer than it does others. We work with them while they're in that housing to become stable and self-sufficient and that's where our behavioral health team and our employment and our what we call navigators, case managers, come and work alongside people.

But then also, outside of that team of professionals, we have the community involvement that we need. And so that community involvement really starts and this is where there's a link between our two organizations. It starts with finding housing that will be available to them. And it's not even the typical model of affordable housing where, you know, the rents, that gets owned and it's meant to be affordable for everybody. This is market rate housing that we're able to subsidize and make affordable for a family transitioning out of a crisis until they're able to take on that rent on their own.

And so the person that owns that housing, it's just like any other renter. But the person that owns the housing or the landlord, they have to be willing to take a little bit of what feels like a risk to them because that family, most likely because of the situation, one thing leading after another, their credit, if they have any, is shot. They probably have some evictions and there are some systemic things that actually cause people to have addiction...not addictions but evictions in order to get help. And then if they don't get the help, then now they have another eviction on their record which makes it more difficult for them to get housing. It's infuriating.

But if we can find the landlord that says, "You know what? I'm gonna give somebody a chance." And that landlord has the assurance that they're gonna get the rent on time because we're subsidizing or making sure that that happens as Path of Life, and that person is gonna have a whole support network around them, it ends up being a real win-win situation. But the most difficult part of that for us at first was to find these landlords. Find these people with this housing stock because most of the available units houses, apartments in our area get very, very high rents. They get well over fair market value for their rents. And so only those that are at the top qualify and get in to those rents. So it leaves out all these families that they will be successful but they just need a little hand up to get there.

And so, as Melina and I talked, she said, "Man, there's a perfect opportunity here in what we do to help those that you're serving and help those that are in our club do what they wanna do and with a natural part of their business." And, then on top of that, another win is that, I said, you know, it involves the community. Once somebody is in that house, they have a professional support, but they also need a community that cares so that they can integrate into the rest of the society and learn skills that all of us need to succeed in our economy as it is, not just survive in poverty.

And through the donations that we receive, we alleviate some of the pressure that's on a family while they're in that transition to have to worry about paying for all the things of life until they can do that on their own through employment, through the support of community members that just come in and befriend a family. All of those things make the difference. And you guys have an army of people that love to give back. And they found, not only pleasure in that, but they found out how well it works for everybody when they do and it's just been a perfect fit.

Melina: Yeah, yeah. So that's really what's happened with our warehouse space, is that, it's now become...because when you realize people come literally from the street into a home, they have nothing. Like, absolutely nothing. So, you know, we've been able to arm them with furniture, beds, pots and pans, you know, on top of, you know, stocking their cupboards, but refrigerators, and stoves, and, you know, everything that they need. So that's really why the storage unit got so full. It was because would call me and say, "I have this chest of drawers. Could you use it?" And I would go, "Yes, bring it. I'll find a place. You know, if it's gotta go in a hallway somewhere just bring it," because I know there's gonna be a need.

And I wanna a family to be able to move into a home and then I want the home to have...Like, I want them to have a dresser to put their clothes in. I want them to be able to sleep on a bed. I want them to sit on a couch. I want them to go be able to watch a TV, you know. Those are all things that I think are very important. And I believe that it's such a huge part in breaking the cycle.

It's part of the restoration and the rebuilding and getting them out of that cycle and truly breaking that legacy. And so I feel like, for me, that's one of the most important things and you hit on it with children needing to see a difference. So I've even noticed in some families, you know, maybe it's more difficult for the adults in the family to break those cycles but I always think about, you know, what we're setting up for the children.

Damien: Exactly, right.

Melina: We're seeing, you know, the seeds that we're planting, I think, are everlasting. And I really do believe that it is a making a long-term impact. So the numbers are always staggering and I think people are shocked, because I was just at the family shelter the other day and I realized that, you know, what we have a newborn right now, you know, a premie, precious little baby in there, you know. And I think people don't really understand how important it is to be in our shelter and then hopefully transition them into a home. But would you just share a little bit about, like, the numbers in terms of children and families?

Damien: Sure. So we serve over 1,400 unique individuals every year throughout our different programs, most of them starting at the shelter. Over 55% of those that we serve in our family programs are kids. And, you know, when you really think about it which, you know, most people don't spend their time thinking about these things but it makes sense because you either have single adult households or it's even two adults with a household with more children.

The number of children who are homeless in our community actually outnumber the number of adults in our community that are homeless. We know this because we serve them every day but it's not usually until somebody shows up at our family shelter or, you know, sees a video of us placing a family or something that people realize, "Oh, these are kids that are literally homeless." We don't see them on the street because, you know, they hide themselves well. But they're in our schools.

Melina: They sure are.

Damien: They're in our neighborhoods, you know, living many times multiple families to a home which isn't great for the families, and it's not great for the neighborhood, not great for all the resources. It's just not the right type of living environment. But they're there.

Melina: They definitely are.

Damien: And when they hit rock bottom, that's when we see them at the shelter often, when they have no other place to turn, literally, no other place to turn. And in terms of, you know, providing the things that you have provided and the way in which...it's not just about the stuff. It's about the way that you've provided it. Because, honestly, we've had people just dump stuff off at the shelter, we've seen it all the time. And a lot of it's stuff that the families who are homeless don't need, we don't need. We've gotta figure out how to do it. It's truly not dignifying just to expect somebody to take something because I gave it to you. "Here's a coat. It doesn't fit and you hate the color or whatever but dang it, I'm giving it to you, so you should take it."

Melina: Right, and be grateful.

Damien: And be grateful. And what it does to that person is it just it further creates shame.

Melina: Confirms.

Damien: But when we do it in a way that you've done it where it's, "Hey, it's available for you on your own behalf, if you want to come and get it, if you need it, it's available to you. And you can come in and pick and choose what you want. And even if you need a couch but you don't like that one, you don't have to take it."

Melina: Absolutely.

Damien: Totally different effect in the life of a person. And what it does, it's not just charity and a relief effort. It truly is a development effort because doing those sorts of things for people creates margin. I used that word earlier but there have been studies that show that when your thoughts are consumed about just the worries all the time of just getting by in life, not only does it create a cycle of survival of just getting by the very next day, but it also, physiologically, limits your ability to think about other things. It's Maslow's hierarchy.

So once those things, when you're not worried about, "Man, I wish my children had a bed to sleep in," that's now not a worry, now you can think about, "I wanna help my child do well in school today." Right? Those sorts of things make a difference in the development of a person and helping families move forward.

Melina: Absolutely. I'm a little...I get sort of aggressive with people because I say those things. I tell them, "Don't you dare bring me your expired food. Like, if you do, I'm gonna give it back to you. And don't bring me the stuff you couldn't sell at a yard sale. I'm not interested in that."

Damien: Even your junk.

Melina: "Yeah, don't bring me your junk. This isn't..." And they do, which is okay. I still take it, but I'm gonna sort through it and I'm gonna throw out stuff that's junky. But I do think that that is a very, very important part. And that's what I always, you know, tell them, "These are actual people. They're not, you know..." And I think it goes to, and I know I kind of put Dave on the spot by saying, you know, making you talk about your prejudice and I appreciate, babe, you allowing me to do that. But I do believe that that is, for me, that's been one of the biggest parts of personal growth for myself, you know, is understanding that.

I never, ever would see myself as a person of any kind of prejudice whatsoever. But I think even myself, I had a little bit of prejudice, not understanding, you know, so much of the time it's, "Well, if you just really wanted to have a job, you'd have one," and not really getting that there's a legacy that is handed down. And that's kind of become my deep seated passion, is breaking the legacy or changing the legacy. And I believe that you can do that inside of a family unit that already exists. I don't believe that the answer is, you know, taking kids away from their parents.

Obviously, there's, you know, appropriate times for that. But I think if there's any way to keep families together and even if it's, you know, I don't wanna say necessarily too late, but even if it's later on in the adults lives, I still believe keeping that family unit together and creating a different way of being, a different way of thinking, like you said, that is what is life changing. As much as it is, you know, feeding somebody who's hungry, not that that's not important, but I am so attached and so passionate about this mission because of what I believe to be truly life-changing. And I think it will make a dent in the entire, you know, world. I really believe that.

Dave: Well, it makes a difference for everybody involved in that equation.

Melina: Right.

Dave: I guess, probably speak to this for your club members that have participated. They've probably seen their lives change too, which is always...I love hearing those stories of our volunteers that show up to serve a meal, you know, or in some way, and, you know, they tell us, you know, my life is different because I've done this. And those are the sorts of opportunities that you're creating for your club members in addition to the families and individuals that we serve is that opportunity to connect with something deeper, right? And to truly learn what it's like to be a whole human being.

Melina: Totally. That's exactly right. One of the things I say all the time is, I mean, we were just having this conversation earlier about how important it is for people to become that whole person, and once you do, then your life success just shows up. And I tell people that and, Dave, that, "I wish there was a way we could start them, you know, start them in this journey with becoming that whole person, and then teach them real estate." But here's the truth, the truth is people won't show up for that.

Dave: Right.

Damien: They don't know they need it.

Melina: Yeah, they don't even know that it's a need for themselves. They show up because they wanna flip houses because they see something on TV, they see this cool transformation, and they see a big fat paycheck and that's what draws them in and not really understanding that that is a minuscule part of what we do and what I believe is the true success. And the house flipping is great and it's fun. But the truth is it's the people all the way through the equation is what is the most powerful thing and that is the person who is doing the flipping. It's the person who was behind the house, originally, who had a problem that we were able to come in and solve. And then what do we do with our extra time and resources that are created as a result of that?

Damien: Right.

Melina: And I believe that's what has to come first.

Damien: That's amazing. One of the things that's amazing about what you guys have done is that it's totally integrated. It's who you are, it's what you do as a business. It's what creates your livelihood and wealth for people. But there's no extra part, like, here's what we do for life and work and then here's what we do to help others. It's all part of the piece. And then, I don't know if you thought of this before. I think I've heard you say it though is, you're also in the business of preventing homelessness with what you do and always you do it well.

Melina: We really are. Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, that's completely true. It's such a cool opportunity to be able to...In my opinion, I feel like it's just an honor and a privilege. You know, people say, "Oh, how did you, you know, get involved?" And I go, "Oh, I didn't. Oh, my gosh. They rescued me on so many levels, I believe, that this organization gave me the outlet that I needed, you know, to be able to drive other people too to give them a purpose." I mean, that's what I always tell people, you have to figure out why you're doing what you're doing and I believe that your core purpose actually has nothing to do with you. I believe you find your core purpose when you take something that you're deeply passionate about and you bring to one of the world's greatest needs.

You can do those two things. You can find your core purpose. And most people don't have the opportunity to find the need. So I just tell them, "Jump on my need for now. Until you find yours, jump on mine."

Damien: Nothing else, it'll get you to the next step. Awesome.

Melina: Exactly, exactly.

Dave: As we head into wrapping this up, I could sit and listen to you two all day, really. I really, really appreciate it. I don't wanna let the cat out of the bag too much. So I'll be careful with how I word this. But I've heard some of the...I called them crazy earlier, crazy, I guess. And what I actually know is that they're not crazy.

Melina: Oh, no.

Dave: There are some ideas that are going to be coming to fruition that we'll share at a later date.

Melina: There could be an auctioning off of a house.

Dave: There could be. Interesting.

Melina: Well, I think we're gonna prove that thoughts become things.

Dave: That's right. So these have been thoughts, other than bouncing back...

Melina: We've turned those thoughts into words.

Dave: So, love it. Give us, if you will, like, six months, a year, two years, where do we go from here? We've got a huge warehouse, we're expanding, I don't know how many club members have houses now and provide housing for people through this program. I have no idea what the numbers are. I don't know any of that. Where do you see us going? And maybe you and Damien can kind of share like what's our plan? Those that are listening from the club, those that are not yet involved in the club, like, what do they have to look forward to? What's the next venture that we're going on with you guys?

Melina: Well, I've had a vision, for a while now of us building a house. And it started, and I've been trying to figure out how do we build a home and what does actually do and how does that provide for the needs that we have at Path of Life. And the truth is we need, you know, everything that we do takes money, bottom-line. It does take money. It takes people and it takes money. And so we've been trying to figure out how can we...Like, I don't know. I just keep on seeing us building a house. And so there's been some things that have been floated around. And so in my mind, the way I see it coming to fruition is we're going to auction off a house. That's kind of how I see it happening. Yeah, so...

Damien: Well, and what that sort of thing will do is it allows us to have an asset that we can use for people, families that usually would fall through the cracks. You know, there's just not the resource available, they don't qualify for this or that. And so the more flexible assets that we can have to do what we know needs to be done, the more people we can help in a quicker fashion. So that's what we've been brainstorming on, is how can we do that in a way that's sustainable for our organization, that builds and the organization allows us to do more and allows families to do that and all of that?

I just keep thinking of the story of the house that was bought in Moreno Valley and the family that needed it. So we had a...one of the club members that was purchasing a house was in contact with our navigators of our housing program. And our navigator just so happened to come into contact with a family who was more recently homeless. They had a daughter that was in a wheelchair. So they needed an ADA accessible house.

We didn't have that conversation but our housing team and your club member met together at the house and they started walking through it to see if it would work for the family. And the housing director was actually there and looked around and said, "You know, the doors are wider." And she said, "Is this house ADA accessible?" And he said, "Yeah, actually it is. That's the way it was built." And it just so happened that this is exactly the type of house that this family needs.

So I thought of that because we do see those miracles happen all the time, but then there's also times where our team looks for something they just can't find the right fit, right? And we need those flexible assets to be able to serve that need until we find the right fit.

Melina: Absolutely.

Dave: Got it. Well, my last question, and we'll wrap up with this. But families listening to this, we never know who's gonna be listening to it. Is there any immediate needs that you guys have that somebody maybe listening to this and says, "I could do that. Oh, I know who could do that." Our God is big. And so we have no idea who might listen to this. What would you guys...what do you need? What are your immediate needs?

Damien: Well, so you can visit our website again, www.thepathoflife.com and on that website, you can do two things. You can sign up to be a volunteer, because again, it takes many hands. And what we do for volunteers is find the right fit for them, what's in line with their passion, rather than just have, you know, here are the ways that you have to fit in. We make it work. So it's a win-win situation.

And then also somebody can become a sustainer by signing up to give a monthly donation. It's reoccurring. It's easy. Once it's set up, they don't even have to really think about it unless they wanna increase it.

But what's so important about that, for us, as Melina said it, in some nonprofits, they shy away from the money question. But I don't because I know that for every dollar that we receive in flexible funding that we can use the way that we need to, I know I can turn that into $10, $20, $100 by leveraging it to get more grant money which we have to float the cost of and it's a complicated system. But the more money that we have to leverage just allows us to help people. And it all goes right back into our organization.

And so those are two immediate ways people can help. And what I find is if somebody takes one of those steps, they find the passion. If they just keep taking the steps, they find what they're supposed to be doing.

Dave: That's awesome. And for us, I think...So obviously, New Wealth Advisors Club, whether you join the club, come down and check us out or not, we're definitely always in need for what types of things, somebody was listening to this...

Melina: Toiletry items. Most of our funding doesn't allow for us to purchase toiletry items for folks. So feminine hygiene, diapers, shampoos, toothpastes, toothbrushes, those are things that we're always...

Dave: Razors, deodorant.

Melina: Razors, yes, deodorant, those are things we're always in need of. And I have lots of room to store it now.

Dave: Well, thank you very much again, Damien, for taking time out this morning. Thank you for all that you do, the countless hours that you put into such a big thing. And I'm sure you don't get near the things that you deserve and, Honey, for all the extra time that you take and for stretching me and helping me grow through this process as well. So I'm definitely, some other time, will share. But I heard a lot today that really, really resonates with me for my whole life. So I appreciate you guys very, very much.

Damien: We appreciate you. Thank you.

Dave: With that, we're gonna call it a wrap.

Melina: Flippin off, flippin out.

Dave: It's time for flippin much.

Melina: Flippin Out here.

Damien: All right, thank you, guys.