2005 — My career in Relief & Aid Work begins when I head to the Dominican Republic to build schools for a week. I learned how to make cement and mortar by hand with a shovel. A young girl I connected with gave me her necklace that matched her sisters. I’m touched, knowing this may be her only jewelry, and take it as a sign I am on the right path.
2006 — I enroll in the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) as a Corps Member for a year of Disaster Relief work across America. I discover feminism, a killer work ethic, and the fact that I can do things without guidance (aka. empowerment). I receive the Spirit of Service Award and the Bronze Congressional Medal for service. This is the best year of my life.
2008 — I receive the Silver Congressional Medal for service after leading several Katrina Relief missions.
2009 — I graduate with a degree in Anthropology and reenroll in the NCCCs as a Field Team Leader. I’m deployed on tsunami relief in American Samoa where an aftershock and tsunami warning start my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder journey. I receive the Gold Congressional Medal for service, but no longer feel like I understand my path.
2010 — My deployment ends, but I find myself completely out of touch with myself. Night terrors, panic attacks, and depression ensue. I try to start a nonprofit of my own to continue the Aid work I love, but after several missions, it falls apart.
2011 — I apply and am enrolled in Rising Women Leaders, a program sponsored by Huntington Bank in support of local Female Leaders and their careers. I discover I have PTSD which is why I have panic attacks when I try to do service-based work, but hide it from everyone. This is the same time period that military personnel are committing mass shootings with blame falling on PTSD.
2012 — I see the writing on the wall at my job and start my first company, GreenCup, still in business today.
2013 — I try my hand at a startup that would overhaul the Student Loan Industry. After months of planning, the financials just didn’t work. I wrote a blog about what I learned, and moved on.
2014 — Another startup, this one with legs, called Fuse West Michigan. We planned a Worlds Fair style event for the Design Industry in West Michigan, with backing from three universities, the State of Michigan, and other local organizations. It ultimately fails due to a cofounder leaving in a disruptive manner. With each venture, I’m still trying to find my path, since Relief and Aid Work are no longer an option.
2015 — I start a Kickstarter for a book I am to write about the way technology has changed us from the perspective of the Greatest Generation. I travel the country by vehicle interviewing people born before 1940. It’s the closest I’ve gotten to the work I used to do, and I love it, but I push myself too hard and have a breakdown when I return home.
2016 — I finally begin ongoing therapy for the PTSD. I start to feel whole again and find the strength to look for my true path. I realize that I was born to help people, and Aid Work was just one possible form. I discover Coaching, and found Veronica Kirin, Inc. I start speaking to groups of students, women, and girls about my journey to empower them so they don’t have to wander in the dark like I did. My podcast, Degrees of Separation, runs for nine episodes.
2017 — GreenCup receives the Top Women Owned Businesses award. This is the first award I’ve received since my Aid Work years. It affirms that I may be on the right path again.