“Relay For Life” of New Milford: The Music Video!

Last weekend, the annual American Cancer Society’s “Relay For Life” of New Milford, Connecticut was held at Sarah Noble Middle School. I sit on the committee of this wonderful event as the Publicity Chairperson. If you have never attended a Relay, I promise you that it is an event that will stay with you forever.

Obviously, it’s primary function is as a fundraiser. But it is so much more than that. It is a place for cancer survivors, caretakers, family, and friends to come together. It’s a huge party! The’s food, raffles, games, and all kinds of other fun activities. We even had a renewal of wedding vows at the event this year! In turn… It is also a time to remember those that have passed on due to this horrible disease. The Luminaria ceremony and silent laps are perhaps one of the most emotional and beautiful aspects of any “Relay For Life.”

I usually spend my time at Relay running around, answering questions, and trying to help things run smoothly. I’m also the guy with a camera attached to his neck. I probably took close to 400 pictures to document the event (Thank God for digital DSLR cameras). One of the hardest aspects of what I do, is to try and narrow those pictures down to just a few that I feel represent what “Relay” is all about. And then I make a music “video.” This isn’t something I have to do… It’s something I enjoy. So the first step was figuring out what song to use. I came up with what I think is the perfect song: “Courage” by Orianthi. The song is a duet with Lacey from the band, Flyleaf. Then I had to figure out how to cut 400 pictures down to a relative few to fit the length of the song. Here is the video. I hope that you enjoy it. And please, find a “Relay For Life” in your area in which to participate. I promise… It will be amazing! For more information on “Relay”, click here.

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Job Hunting… Cancer… Economy… It’s All in Here in… My Story

First off, let me state that this post isn’t about trying to get people to feel sorry for me.  I’m not that type of person.  But there are a few things I would like to get off my chest.  Let’s just call it “venting.”

I’m in a lot of financial trouble.  Serious trouble.  I know… everybody else is, as well.  The economy is circling the drain and nobody knows when it will bounce back.  Although , I have faith that it will.  Corporations are laying off employees by the thousands and those thousands just become more people that I have to compete with in order to find a job.

I was let go from my position as the Marketing & Promotions Director for a cluster of of radio stations in Connecticut back in May of 2007.  It was a job that I absolutely loved, and was very good at.  I was never given a reason as to why, but that’s not important.  It’s a part of being in the radio industry.  After a week or two of wallowing in self-pity, I began to view it as an opportunity.  Perhaps a time to re-invent myself.  I re-did my resume, and laptop computer in hand, started to re-discover the old career web sites that I had not needed to look at for a number of years.  I began reaching out to contacts that I had built up over the course of time… friends, colleagues, clients.  I was getting some interviews.  Some went well, some didn’t,  In July, I decided to take a part-time job at Starbucks, not so much for the paycheck, but to have a place to go and be around people.  Plus, they offer a very good benefits package to part-timers.  Medical Insurance that I needed because…

In March of 2008, I was diagnosed with cancer for the 3rd time over the course of 10 years.  This was one month after the loss of my father, so yes… between the job loss, losing my dad, and the cancer (we’re not even going to touch on the romantic issues that I had to deal with in that time frame)… I had a pretty miserable year.

An aggressive approach to dealing with the cancer was called for.  For the first time, I didn’t have surgery.  We have been treating with chemotherapy and then a month of radiation treatments at the end of 2008.  So now, I was not only searching for a job, I was dealing with this hideous disease.  It affected my job search.  I was still getting some interviews, but I believe that my “condition” may have hurt my chances with some potential employers.  I didn’t “look like” a cancer patient, or what one might expect a cancer patient to look like.  I hadn’t lost my hair.  But I felt awful.  It not only affected the way that I approached job hunting, it affected how I handled myself in interviews.  I am a very open and honest person, and felt an obligation to tell my potential employers about my condition.  Stupid, yes.  But at the time, I felt that people deserved to know what they were getting involved in with me.  In truth, I wasn’t applying for jobs that I couldn’t handle.  I wasn’t sending resumes for jobs that had the title “VP of Anything”.  I had chemo treatment once every two weeks.  The side affects I would be able to work through.  They weren’t all that bad.

It is illegal to not hire somebody based on their medical conditions.  But let’s face it… employers can find a million other reasons to not hire you.

So, I realized that I needed to really concentrate on getting myself better.  Not that I stopped the job search, but sort of re-prioritized it.  Of course, once I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as my health, the economy fell apart. Thousands were out of work.  As of now, the unemployment rate is at a 25 year high.  Believe me, I sympathize with each and every one.  The problem is… my creditors don’t want to hear that I have no money.   Which brings me to…

My take on the economy.  I don’t pretend to know anything about the economy.  I’m not very good at politics.  But what I do know is that I never had a problem with huge mega-bonuses that CEOs get, or millions in severance packages.  Hell, I was even all for pro-athletes getting completely ridiculous contracts.  My feeling was that if somebody had the money and was willing to shell it out so that a football player could play in 16 games a year, then great!  Now, however, when I see that the former boss at Merrill Lynch took a 50 or 60 million dollar bonus and left the company after only 3 months of work… and after his company was bailed out by the federal government… well, I have serious issues with that.  There was, one story a few weeks ago, and I wish I had paid more attention to it, where a CEO took his $60,000,000 bonus and split it up between his employees.  He even gave former employees a cut.  WE NEED MORE PEOPLE IN THIS SOCIETY LIKE THIS!!!!

And now, the bailout plan that’s in the works is primarily for home-owners that can’t pay their mortgage.  That’s fine.  But what about those of us that don’t own homes.  I rent.  And I’m about a month and a half away from being evicted.  What’s the stimulus plan to help me and the others like me?  Sure… there are agencies that offer things like rental assistance.  Yes, I applied.  Their question to me was “Do you have enough money to pay your rent?”  When I told them no, they responded that they couldn’t help me because I couldn’t pay my rent.  WHAT??? If I had enough money to pay my rent, then I wouldn’t need rental assistance.  This is a true story.  So, when I eventually do find a job, I will go back to them and see of they can help me pay my back rent.  That is if I’m not living in my car by then (at least that’s paid for).

So what about social services like welfare and food stamps?  Oh, I tried that, too.  Apparently I’m not eligible for welfare because I don’t have a child and I am not disabled.  You may ask, “But what about the cancer, Eric?”  What I am going through is not disabling in any way, shape, or form.  I am able to work at 100% capacity.  So, no, I don’t qualify under that.

As for food stamps… Apparently I make too much money at my part-time job to qualify.  I guess they really expect people to be able to live on the $150 a week I might take home after taxes are taken out.  Never mind that there’s rent, bills, utilities, and gas for the car to pay for.  Believe me, I understand that there are people who abuse the system, and they should summarily be destined to spend a number of years as guests of our friendly department of corrections.  It’s those people that make it more difficult for honest people to get the help they need.

I have had the very good fortune to have many friends and family to lean on.  I’ve even had  family members (who shall remain anonymous) send me checks of fairly large sums (large to me) to help me thorough on a couple of  occasions.  I am normally not normally the type of person to take this kind of help.  But I had to, and I know that they would have been insulted if I didn’t.  I’m normally the person on the other end… the person that tries to help others in need.  It’s actually one of the reasons I’ve liked my career path so much.  Being in radio gave me the opportunity to help countless non-profits and charities to promote awareness and fundraisers.  I even spent 2 years working for the Muscular Dystrophy Association as a fundraiser.  There are not a lot of jobs where you can make a living helping kids.  And I would go back to Non-Profit in a heartbeat.  I would go back to MDA, and I would LOVE to work for the American Cancer Society.  I have applied 7 or 8 times, and interviewed on two different occasions, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why I’m having such a hard time breaking in there.  I have 2 years of very successful find-raising experience, through my radio jobs did a great job of helping them to promote their events, I’m the publicity chairperson for one of our local Relay For Life events, and I have the personal experience… 3 times!

And I miss my job at the aforementioned cluster of radio stations in Connecticut.  I didn’t for a while.  I admit that I was very bitter about how the whole thing played out.  But I’m beyond that, and if the opportunity would ever arise, I would also go back there in a second, although many of the people that I worked with are gone.  Many of my colleagues, whom I consider friends, are still there and the listeners and fans of the stations were out of this world!

But I also look forward to whatever challenges lay ahead.  I have renewed vigor in the job search arena, and even though I am still in treatment, my cancer is in the past.  I would love to find a job that allows me to use my skills that I have, but challenge me in new and exiting ways.  It certainly doesn’t have to be in radio or non-profit, but something that allows me to use my creative side along with some decent business sense.

I know that I am not unique in that many people have health, career, and financial issues.  I just thought  I would share my thoughts and hope that others will share theirs.  Believe it or not… it’s GREAT therapy!

I know that I touched on many topics in this post… Normally, I would probably have split them into different blog entries.  But I feel that they are all connected.

Thank you for taking the time to read.