Located in Irvine, California, Doing Good Works is dedicated to improving the outcomes of aging out foster youth — from Orange County to around the world. The company believes that no matter where you come from, your voice matters. Clients’ voices are heard when they place their orders as well as when they respond knowing their purchase is going to impact individuals aging out of foster care.
Through Doing Good Works, Scott Henderson and Jordan Bartlett have found a way to use promotional merchandise to help bring resources to foster youth. During Bartlett’s time in college, he created his first Facebook profile, and soon received a friend request from a woman introducing herself as his sister. Little did he know how this request would alter his career — and his life.
“I was adopted at a young age, and I had amazing parents,” says Jordan. “But my sister had a very different upbringing. She had been in and out of the foster system and at the time we got in touch, she was several years sober and working at the recovery place that had helped her, in order to give back.”
Bartlett began doing research on more than 400,000 youth in the U.S. foster care system and found startling statistics. High school graduation and incarceration rates were dismal. Of youth who have experienced foster care, 50% are unemployed, 28% experience homelessness, 25% enter the criminal justice system and less than 3% graduate college. As he became aware of these harsh outcomes, Bartlett’s desire to make a difference in this overlooked community became stronger.
He quit his recruiting job and began working with Royal Family Kids, a nationwide network of recreational camps for abused and neglected children. When he expressed his desire to help youth as his new career, the Royal Family introduced him to Scott Henderson. Henderson was aware of the unacceptable foster care outcomes through his wife’s experience as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), a volunteer advocate for young people in foster care.
Very familiar with the challenges faced by the foster community, both Henderson and Bartlett held a deep-seated desire to make an impact. “We decided to do what we knew best,” Scott shares. “We both had experience using businesses to change outcomes. Why not start a business that uses its profits to create social change?”
Doing Good Works launched in 2015, and has already made a significant impact in the eight life domains of young people aging out of foster care. In keeping with the company’s 10/20/30 model, 10% of profits are donated to organizations that support the foster community; 20% of employees’ time is available for mentoring in the community; and 30% of employees are from the foster community. In the first half of 2020 alone,the company donated over $46,000 in cash donations, volunteered over 250 hours, impacted 1,884 youth, and employed 11 youth with experience in the foster system (four are full-time employees).
In addition, Bartlett and Henderson created the ‘Stronger Together’ relief fund for foster youth in need of assistance during the pandemic, and have supplied over $10,000 in monetary donations, financial coaching, meals, housing and more. The goal is for all youth to be empowered and have the same opportunities as their peers.
Being a “trauma-informed” environment, the team has been specially trained in working with youth who have experienced trauma. Their methods are aligned with the requirements defined by the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP), a federally funded foster care assistance program. They also derive work rituals from community partners such as Fostering Success Coaching and Mindset Matters.
“We truly believe in the idea of using business as a force for good,” Scott shares. And the growth of the business supports the belief that doing good works. It ranked 2nd on Counselor Magazine’s Fastest Growing Distributors List in 2019, with a 702% growth between 2016 and 2018. The business was also named to the 2019 Inc. 5000 List as one of the fastest growing companies in America. Bartlett and Henderson believe it is important to let their customers and the rest of the world know that it is possible to have a thriving business and make a difference. It is up to you.
The following are submissions from the Doing Good Works Community Impact Interns.
Bigger Than Life
By Alex Rodriguez
Ever since I can vividly remember I hear those babies’ cry.
I wake up in the middle of the night and think about mommy before she dies.
The rain washes away my tears and the freezing winter provides me numbness.
I can no longer differentiate if I am alive or have perished.
But the light ahead of the dark tunnel seems to be alive.
Could it be just an illusion? Am I losing my sanity?
Because I did not quit or have plans to quit.
My heart is demolished from the suffering from these losses.
My mother did not get to love me for she died.
And my father forgot about me in the past as the days of yesterday.
My soul has become tinted from the horrible events I have witnessed.
And my wings are broken from the rocks they threw at me as a child.
But if I get to reach the youth through my literature.
I will accomplish an act that is bigger than life itself.
How can a child that is homeless himself have sympathy or pity
For an older man who is also homeless?
But it was until I touched down inside of a jail cell that I realized.
That my purpose in life is bigger than life.
To inspire my ghetto children that run wild out in the cold.
To uplift their spirits with greatness. To make them realize their own greatness.
For my children that no one loves for the lack of love in this world.
I commit my life to never throw away the towel and to never fold.
To reach my dreams so I can go back and share them with you.
And for the loved ones I have lost throughout this journey.
For every accomplishment I achieved, you achieved.
For every smile I show, you smiled.
For every person I help, you helped.
And for every dream I will make come true, you also made come true.
It is only when you are selfless that you can truly see the beauty in humanity.
It is only the time I get to feel alive again.
It is only when you put others first than yourself.
You witness compassion and true kindness.
The man who gets up every single morning to provide for his kids.
That is bigger than life.
The mother that is raising her children all by herself.
That is bigger than life.
The little children who want to grow up to save cats and dogs.
That is bigger than life.
IT’S TIME WE DO SOMETHING FOR OUR YOUNG KIDS THEY ARE GROWING UP HOPELESS
LET’S MAKE A WAY FOR THEM TO LIVE!!!!
The purpose and main reason behind the creation of this poem that I like to consider vulnerable, inspiring and emotional emerged from a conversation I had with my mentor Scott Henderson, who is also the CEO of the organization named Doing Good Works. He noticed that my overall purposes in life, which aligned in helping unfortunate children one day in the future resembled a quote I was constantly using, which was “bigger than life”. I always had utilized this quote as a reference regarding whenever a person commits or has thoughts that concern the wellbeing of someone else instead of oneself. And I truly believe that these kinds of actions are what represent the element of being bigger than life because we are putting our life second for someone else that is not oneself. For example, like I have mentioned in the poem the kids that have dreams of being veterinarians or doctors, professions or actions that regard helping others for the passion of helping and not for what is there to gain.
The humbling and privileged opportunity that was given to me by allowing me to be part of an internship at Doing Good Works has helped me gain innovative connections as well as lifetime friends. But more importantly they have shown me that there are still people that care for unfortunate children in the midst of this cruel world. When I was growing up without my father and mother I felt at times that I almost was not going to make it. But I believed in myself although, during certain times I cut myself short from my own greatness. I wish someone would have told me during my younger years to believe in myself more than I did.
My name is Alina Gonzalez. I am a young teen parent who comes from the foster system. I have been working hard all my life. I do not come from the best background. I was placed in the foster system at the age of 4 years old. Moved around a lot because no one wanted my siblings and me. It was really hard to see and understand that no one wanted us. Finally we were placed with my grandparents and endured mental, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse while living with them for 7- 8 years. After so many years of abuse I was placed in a group home then after a few months, I was placed with my Nana. Although living with my Nana was a lot better we struggled a lot financially. There were times we barely had any food to eat. We struggled but my family tried their hardest to give us what we needed. Even though some this were a lot better it was still pretty toxic living with my paternal family.
Moving forward, while I was in my sophomore year in high school I got pregnant and also had my son. My pregnancy itself was great but the world around me was not. I was enduring a lot of emotional pain that no one knew about. I kept to myself a lot of the time because enduring what I did in the foster system no one would listen so I had grown up thinking nobody ever really cared for me. I was mentally not there for a lot of things and it was hard. A lot of my emotions hit when I had to go to court pregnant to face the man who sexually abused me at the age of 7- I felt the need to hide my pregnancy during the court process because I thought the court would not believe what happened to me if they saw I was pregnant at the age of 15.
Moving into my senior year of high school, my Nana got sick. So I took it upon myself to start looking for a job and by the middle of the school year, I was working two jobs to help support a family of 7 people. Life seemed fine — I was going to school full time, working two jobs to support my family, on track for graduating, passing all my classes. Then two months before graduating my Nana sadly passed away. It was one of the hardest moments of my life to endure. I kept my emotions bottled up so that I could be strong for my family and continue working and going to school. Since she was my guardian and she had passed I was placed back into the foster system. Which felt so rushed because I was going to be 18 soon after. So I decided I needed to move out after graduating high school at 17 and worked my two jobs non-stop during the summer of 2018. Soon after that, I started at OCC. Which was going so well until spring hit. I fell into such a big depression and did not even realize it. I had bottled so many things up that it took over me. So I decided to take the summer off and collect myself so when I started in the fall I would do better. I did just that and have improved my grades and GPA. Now I am on the road to transferring to do human services at Cal State Fullerton.
My reasoning for doing Human Services is because my goal is to help those who have gone through similar situations like myself. You see, I have always had a passion for helping people and I had realized that I wanted to help guide those who have come across similar paths. Society needs to see that we are not just a statistic, we can beat the odds against us. Being successful in something I am passionate about while making a difference will mean so much to me.
The reasoning is sharing my story and where I am at in life is to show that those who come from the foster system can do so much in life and not just be seen as a statistic. That we can take control of our lives and have a better future for ourselves and our future family.
My advice to everyone reading is to keep pushing and working hard. There are going to be speed bumps and twist and turns in the road ahead but it is nothing you can’t come over. You will do great things in life.
“They tell us to reach for the stars while there are footprints on the moon.”
Doing Good Works has shown me there are many other young leaders doing impactful work. They gave me hope in a capitalistic society by being a business for the greater good. I am forever grateful for the opportunity DGW provided. Shout out to my mentor and cofounder of DGW Jordan Bartlett for helping, supporting, and strengthening my life! As well as Colette Byers for supporting me, giving me creative freedom, and always giving me beautiful words of encouragement.
If you needed a sign to take care of yourself and practice self-care here it is! You miss 100% of the chances you do not take is something that has resonated with me. However as I am getting older something I am learning is I actually “can’t save the world.” At this point in my life, I cannot stress how important it is to take care of ourselves and practice self-care. I truly believe that we can’t help others until we help ourselves.
As a youth I thought I could tackle the world’s problems, I mean I still do ha, but it is not an easy process. I wanted to write this to join the older folks who tell you to live in the moment and take a break. For those unsure how to advocate for yourself or others start with baby steps! Set up standards to live by and never back down from those standards. Only you hold the value to yourself, you must believe in yourself before you create bad coping mechanisms. Some of us depend on others for validation, some of us depend on substances.
I am here to say you are perfect how you are, and you deserve to realize that. I am very confident in myself and my achievements. Sometimes I may come off as too confident, well it doesn’t matter because I am amazing. Once we believe in ourselves there is no limit to what we may achieve. I wish people would have taught me how to live in the moment, be comfortable by myself, and practice self-care earlier. Please take care of yourself because no one else will take care of you like you do!
Inspiration can be found amongst a variety of things – to most inspiration is the idea of perfection; something our society strives for, gives up their life for, and imitates. This concept of perfection being inspiration is nothing but a facade. The most interesting people in fact do not come from this idealized version of a perfect human, but in fact from the people who may be bullied or called weird back in middle school. Growing up I always felt as if I did not fit in with my peers due to my upbringing and childhood memories. I ran away and sheltered my mind from the reality that was my life: traumatized.
I never understood how my upbringing, or in other words lack of, would truly impact my future; or what positivity it would bring to me and someday inspire others. My mother was mentally ill and suffered a drug problem which landed myself, as the case with many others, into the foster system. I spent time prior to this being pulled out of school and going to court hearings and put in the middle of my parents’ abuse. My mother sheltered me from my father and what I understand now brainwashed me into believing he was a monster. Little did I know I would soon not see her again. As the years went on I remembered less and less of her, just faint memories of things I knew happened; yet I felt nothing. However one thing that very much resided with me was the night I told her I would stop loving her. She took me on a schizophrenia-induced trip where she believed people were out to kill us; I sat crying in the seat next to her as I watched her pee on herself and take small pills next to me. Hours later I would be handcuffed in a police car threatening to jump. I remember the transition of waiting in a cold bathroom while a social worker checked my naked body to make sure I was not abused, stripped of all my last belongings, and secluded, alone with my thoughts. The trauma this brought me hid itself in nasty ways. As I got older I was sexualized very young, hung out with older people at a young age, and rebelled against the social norm- an outcast. Not long after I began to take drugs with my friends and to them it was a good time, for me not so much. I would begin to remember things of my childhood that I never remembered before. For me this was my therapy. The system had me talk to many therapists however I shut myself off from them as a way to self-preserve. I was not ready.
Between the ages of 13-17 I did many drugs. I had sex with multiple partners. I was raped multiple times. I kept going through all these things sometimes feeling nothing- other times feeling a lot. I told myself this was all normal, that it had nothing to do with my trauma. Not long after this I got pregnant. I had my son at 15 and something in me began to change. It was a very slow process, however people began to put themselves in my life; good people. As self-acceptance began to infiltrate into my thoughts I realized I had a bigger determination than anyone else had, and this was because of my trauma. It ignited me. Raising my son was difficult. I had to become a mother which is something I never had before. Through him I began to see who I was and he brought love back into my life. I finished high school on time with a 3.5 GPA and enrolled in community college which is where I am now. I have managed to attain a full-load. I began to become active on campus, which for me was always a fear in high school as I did not relate to people with “normal” lives. I joined the Guardian Scholars program which recently connected me with an amazing job at Doing Good Works where I am the mission ambassador of good news. We are a B-Corp dedicated to improving the lives of foster youth in the system and those aging out. Opportunities began to come into my life as I was no longer blocking them out. I began to pursue everything that was brought to me and my true passion began to show itself. I had to accept who I am and my past and use it for good. The journey has been slow and hard however it is possible.
During the hardest parts of COVID, I was able to achieve my first college 4.0, work, and take a full load with my three year old son at home with me. I am pursuing a double bachelors in Psychology and Communications where I will attain my Masters in business so I can set up an art therapy business available for those who also have a hard time expressing their traumas, as this was something I also struggled with. As I look at how far I have come I realize these horrible occurrences have only pushed and driven me to succeed. I felt alone my whole life and that my brain didn’t “think normal”. This may seem like a flaw to others, however once you can turn your flaws into talents you begin to shine. My accomplishments began to reach others, and I realized that people began to look up to me. My passionate energy was rubbing off onto others with positivity and hope. The true inspiration comes from those who have experienced real defeat and pull themselves up to only spread love back into others no matter what has been done to them. This is who I aspire to continue to be. Being at my job I have met and heard the stories of so many others who are or have been in the system, and as a part of this group I make it my intention to bring awareness to us. It will not be accomplished by only providing financial support and government advocacy; it has to be by showing them love and letting us be heard directly. I am what they call a “lucky case”. However I do not believe in luck, I believe in change. As a society if we can give support and resources to them, just as I had but at an earlier age, we will all be the lucky ones.