Tackling Homelessness with CEO of Helping America Now Raji Rykert

Homeless Veterans and Mentally Disabled Adults are Suffering!

Tackling homelessness with Raji Rykert, She is the founder of something called “Helping America Now” (HAN), is a non-profit organization created by Raji Rykert to address some of the needs of homeless veterans and mentally disabled adults. She has successfully turned four decades of business experience into a legacy for helping others.

We talk a lot about homelessness and you know, the difficulties that people face, it’s part of my mission in life to actually raise awareness around these really important topics and to help people so I hope you enjoy this episode.

If you want to read the full transcription you will find it below.

Follow Helping America Now on social media:
YouTube channelhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icqHbPpcE2k

Contact Raji on LinkedIn Here 

The full transcription from this interesting episode is below and in the next few weeks, I will be highlighting this problem more and the solutions.

Listen to :- Greater Change: Tackling Homelessness with Tech Founder Alex McCallion – Episode 33

Helping Homeless People & Space Hopping the Alps with Steven Payne – Episode 20

Nathaniel Schooler 0:18
So today, I’m going to introduce you to Raji Rykert, She is the founder of something called Helping American Now. HAN is a nonprofit organization created by Raji record to address some of the needs of homeless veterans and mentally disabled adults.

She has successfully turned four decades of business experience into a legacy for helping others and we talk a lot about homelessness and you know the difficulties that people face.

It’s part of my mission in life to actually raise awareness around these really important topics and to help people; so I hope you enjoy this episode.

Let’s get stuck into the show. Oh, and do ignore the bird. Raji has got a bird and it makes a little bit of noise. So it’s not my usual my usual background noise. But hey, it’s a good episode.

Anyway, so thanks for tuning in. And today I’m joined by Raji from across the pond.

You’re over in San Francisco right?

Raji Rykert 1:25
Los Angeles.

Nathaniel Schooler 1:26
Los Angeles. Yeah and you’re involved with a charity that you’re very passionate about and you’ve been fortunate enough to work hard enough to get yourself to the point where you can you can do that. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about you your businesses and the charity.

So how how did you get to the position of being able to launch a charity in the first place?

Raji Rykert 1:53
Yeah well it was many years of evolution & late nights.

All right. Well that the way that I sort of ended up in the driver’s seat of starting this nonprofit was I spent many years working in healthcare. I worked on the business side of health care. And again, that’s an industry that helps people serves people. And it was very important to me to be able to make a difference.

I think we all have that desire and passion to leave a legacy. We never quite know what that is until maybe further along in our lives. But it was important to me so from healthcare while I was in that industry. I also was transitioning into real estate and building a very successful real estate portfolio and renting homes and flipping homes and just everything that goes along with that, that we see that become very popular in television and print these days.

And I continued on that journey and sort of had the opportunity to enter another chapter of life where I was too young to retire, but too old to, you know, put my head on a shelf and just sit and watch the birds, which is kind of funny because I do have several birds that I used to watch in my living room. That’s a whole other conversation.

I was thinking about some of the people that I had met along this journey of helping with housing and just some of the practical needs and the issues that they were encountering where an elderly man was homeless for various reasons. A young man in his 30s was homeless. People who have mental illness and disabilities where they had fallen through the cracks of not being properly diagnosed. And through these various conversations, I saw that there was an opportunity to serve a very specific group of people and we know that there’s a lot of conversations in the news about homeless veterans.

Or mental illness and mental disabilities. And it’s very complex as we were having the earlier you know, banter back and forth about some of the individuals and the profiles that present. You do have some people that are on drugs, who actually would prefer to be homeless than have the accountability or sober living environment.

You have people who are not stable on medications, who maybe can’t afford medications or they don’t have familial support or medical support. And so through this various these various dialogues and working with agencies and case managers; I thought I saw an opportunity to create a nonprofit which I decided to name Helping American Now; because my focus is US based veterans as well as mentally disabled adults. And that ties into a very personal story, which I’ll share with you in a moment.

But while I was exploring this, and I thought it also gives me a way to self fund things because I’ve never been one to ask for help. It’s just a difficult thing for me. So I thought, well, I’ve been successful. And so I’m going to start to self fund some of this.

But then when the needs start to get greater than the resources that are available, I thought, you know, I’ve got to start making this known to other people, because there are people that want to get involved and they want to help, they just don’t know what to do. Or maybe they haven’t found the organization that resonates with them.

So this was sort of the backdrop to what took place. And then in the course of working with a couple of these individuals and helping them and seeing one woman through being in a stable housing environment, getting on proper medication to mentally disabled and had mental illness. She lost 40 pounds and reverse diabetes. And then another gentleman, an older gentleman who had chronic digestive issues you’ve been homeless in his 80s living in the desert; if you can imagine that harsh environment.

Nathaniel Schooler 6:00

Raji Rykert 6:00
Amen to that, you know, he was placed with a housing vendor within nine months his chronic indigestion, and you know, did digestive issues disappeared, reversed, and he was able to stabilize. And he actually transitioned into a permanent independent housing situation. Where he lives on his own in a senior living environment, and has all the different support services in place now, and he was a veteran.

So it just sort of broke my heart to see people suffering, and to know that there’s something I can do to make a difference, even if it’s just been a handful of people for now, you know, then we’re going to make that difference. So, of course, then seeing those successful outcomes just fueled my passion even more and so now I’m just trying to get the word out about Helping America Now.

Nathaniel Schooler 6:46
It’s great it’s absolutely brilliant. It’s lovely to hear that you’re sort of doing something and and your infrastructure also is not actually funded by donations because that’s the that’s the biggest, you know, issue that a lot of people have with charities.

I was interviewing a gentleman few weeks ago and he’s big into charities. And he was basically saying that, you know, a lot of charities, their businesses, aren’t they. That’s generally how they are looked upon like a business and yes, they get preferential rates and they get assistance, you know, from from the government.

I mean, certainly in the UK, you know, you get money back, if you’re a charity and the taxpayers come and buy your goods. There’s some sorts of money back thing that they get from the government if you register your details, they can pay back I believe the VAT on all the money that you’ve actually spent there. But it’s still an infrastructure that has to be paid for, you know, there are shops that need to be paid, all sorts of things.

But what you’re doing is you’re actually funding all of the infrastructure yourself in order to help these people, right?

Raji Rykert 8:06
Correct? Yes. And I would never turn down a donation. I have received donations. And we do those in the form of scholarships that can go either specifically to certain individuals and their needs, or it can go to the general fun.

But at the end of the day, 100% of the money goes towards the people that need it the most.

Nathaniel Schooler 8:27
Wow, that’s, that’s, that’s amazing. It must feel really, really good to actually be part of that and to have created it, you know, it’s extremely satisfying. I love it.

It’s great. So how many people are you you kind of helping at any one time?

Raji Rykert 8:45
Yeah, well, at this current time, I have four people and previously we helped about six other people. And so it’s just it’s been small and it’s been slow, but it’s been impactful.

So, you know that famous story about the kid who’s throwing the starfish into the ocean. And someone says to him, you know, we’ll look at there’s thousands of starfish, you’re on the seashore. You know, how is that going to make a difference? And then the person responded, well, it made a difference to that one.

So that’s my approach right now. You know, maybe one day I’ll have the 10s of millions of dollars to pour into, you know, the magnitude people and organizations and just sort of supplement with other people are doing but right now, I just focus on one or two or three people at a time. I do work with case managers. So people come in off the street and they need assistance. And I always do it with the you know, they are accountable to someone, they’re working with someone so we can make sure that it’s not just a matter of throwing hard earned money to the wind, but people are genuinely getting the help.

And then also it’s important to have the strength based conversations and ultimately empower them to be independent and quote unquote normal, whatever normal is, right?

Nathaniel Schooler 10:04

Raji Rykert 10:04
Well, it’s a relative term, but, you know, to be able to assimilate into society to to have their own place, whether it’s home ownership or renting or even a room you know, whatever it is that keeps them safe have to have meaningful relationships whether that’s restoring them to family members or finding a new friends so it just becomes a very multi faceted multi dimensional approach but then at the end of the day is what we all want right to belong to be safe to have our basic physical needs met.

Nathaniel Schooler 10:39
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I have a really big affinity you know, for that I mean, over here in Chichester, where I’m at in the UK there’s a there are a lot of a lot of local churches you’ve kind of got together and and they’ve actually partnered with with the government and the city council.

You know, with the City Council really, and, and another charity that’s here and they’re doing quite a lot. They’re doing quite a lot around here. They sort of help help a number of people to get off the streets. But like you say, it’s, it’s a difficult it’s a difficult call.

I think having a caseworker is is definitely the way to go. Because someone needs to be there to support them because it’s pointless, just giving some more money, it’s not going to not going to help the problem because the problem exists in the behavior. I mean, they might come out of from what I gather, you know, they might come out of the Army or whatever, and just not know how to make a living. I mean, that that could be, you know, that could be, you know, not particularly like the job that they’re going to go into or, you know, they might Yeah, like you say, have sort of mental health kind of problems.

But I think I think a lot can happen there are so many people in the US that want to help I mean, I speaking to a chat probably on probably on LinkedIn a few months ago, maybe six months ago and he’s he’s he’s helped a lot of people to get off the streets.

It might be a good introduction for you actually, I think the more people that that can get involved, yes, the raise the awareness of this, the better. And I might, I might introduce you to the people from greater change as well, because this QR code thing, I believe, is a really good idea.

I think that you know, what it is for anyone listening is it’s, it’s a QR code that fits around your neck, on a on a land yard, and then people can scan their mobile phones and pay on a monthly basis to that individual to help them to go to school or university or, you know, whatever it may be, but they have a case worker, you know, you can find out more about them, you know, it’s quite, it’s quite an exciting sort of sorts of project really, and I think that could fit in quite well to what you’re doing.

Raji Rykert 12:56
Absolutely. To your point. I love this. I’m a product that you’re describing, because it eliminates the things that when you genuinely want to help somebody, but you are reluctant because you wonder, is the money really going to where you’re hoping it will go, which is food, clothing, shelter, or is it being used on drugs or alcohol or, you know, whatever thing that somebody could be dependent on, and then, you know, there’s also the house leave that I’ll be doing it professionally, you know, that helps making themselves like very tattered and torn and then at the end of the day, taking off their dirty clothes, getting into a Mercedes and jumping off, you know, which we know that is very real. We’ve seen some of the articles and investigative reporting.

So we want to make sure and I love that you are What did you call it? QR code?

Nathaniel Schooler 13:46
Yeah, just one of those. It’s just one of those codes really, with the white and black you know, that you see on the barcode thoughts? Yeah, bit like a barcode. Yeah, but I think that you know, what’s important is actually is actually understanding more about these people and, you know, are they going to be permanently needing looking after? Or are they? Or are they able to work?

And are they able to providing they’re given a helping hand actually get into something that they enjoy. I mean, over the next few years, I mean, I, I’m big into, like, what’s going on with AI and machine learning and this kind of stuff and and, and the problem is, is that people are not encouraged to learn more and and stay up to date with the latest technology trends and this kind of stuff.

So in the next few years, there are going to be a lot of people who are just lost because they’ve they’ve lost the skills that they need to I mean, they might go into prison for an example and not and not actually learn enough about technology. So when they come out, you know, a computer now it’s completely different to how it was when they went in and then and how you can make money.

Using the computer, so they need someone to say, look, you can either go and get a laboring job and do some physical labor, right? Which for the older people is not going to be any good. I mean, I know a cha[ here who’s got a bad knee, and he’s, he’s gonna have to have surgery. So he’s gonna be off for a year. His mindset is very suited to someone that could build computer programs or build Chatbots or, you know, do something in the technology world, which in essence is going to keep him you know, make him happy. So he can make a build a business because, but not everyone wants to build a business.

So as entrepreneurs, we can’t push people to build a business if they don’t want to build one, right?

Raji Rykert 15:46
Yes, you’re absolutely right. And I think it’s important that when we are working with people, we identify those types of things and qualify, the ones really identify what people want, right because someone who’s in their 30s may want something different from you, they have been whole life ahead of them versus someone who’s in their golden years. And they just want to relax a little bit and take what they can to be comfortable. And, you know, maybe make a contribution here and there with volunteering, but it’s not going to be the same drive and passion necessarily, because I know there’s every time you use an example, there’s always someone that’s going to break that mold, right?

I know, an 85 year old who’s already starting a new business. I have to hand it to him that he would still have that vim and vigor to really reinvent himself and start something new, even at that age.

Nathaniel Schooler 16:38
Wow, that’s amazing. I’m going to tell my dad that he’s 85. I’ve been trying to get introduce, be trying to get him to do some Tai Chi. He did do some for a little while. And then he just sort of went to stay with his girlfriend came back and I was like, so how he was there for a month.

That’s not so bad if you’ve been practicing? “Oh, no, not really. It was cold. And it’s just like it’s like. But he had vigor when he went away, and he came back. And it was just so, you know, waiting to die. Well, I hope not. I don’t think he is to be honest. He is, he is. He went to MIT. He’s very, very interesting

But, but I think that there are so many things that people can do.

Raji Rykert 17:22

Nathaniel Schooler 17:25
Where, where do they start with, with helping people? And then at what point do you do sort of stop helping them? I mean, it’s like, there needs to be a continual process, which is like, if if you get so if you’re going from here to there, you go from A to B. At that point, you know, when you’re halfway along, you’re still heading towards be but you might need just a conversation with someone to keep you on that path, which I think is missing in society or together.

Because we we we just don’t our mobile phones. We don’t you know, we don’t talk to people anymore. And the more I see of it, the more it becomes acceptable. I mean, my Dad went to went to dinner with his, with his lady friend, and I think her Grandkids and they sat there and the kids are on their phones.

And she’s on her phone. And he’s sitting there he doesn’t want he doesn’t want to waste his time on a phone. Yeah, right. And we need to become more accountable for what we do. So for example, big tech companies like Facebook, etc, etc. When they when they actually replace humans with robots, which is which is what’s happening in a lot of a lot of industries. There needs to be a robot tax, right, and there needs to be an ethical process which helps people.

So if, for example, a business is going to make someone redundant, they need to turn around and say, Well, okay, we’re going to help you will get it will give them but making you redundant. Yeah, we’re gonna get rid of you because you don’t have the skills to keep up with our business. However, we know that your personality is this and we know that with a little bit of help, we can help you to do this.

And then that I mean, that needs to happen.

Raji Rykert 19:27
Well, yes, I totally agree now, and wouldn’t you agree that the compassion is the element in that that so many businesses are profit driven, which there’s nothing wrong with making a profit, but I think it’s important to embody the philosophy of win win because if everybody wins, and there is that aspect of we’re now replacing this person so let’s find a way that we can assist them and provide them with something that gives them continuity versus just discarding them after.

We’ve implemented this new procedure, we no longer need them. Right?

Nathaniel Schooler 20:03
Yeah. I think the major issue is the lack of preparation and, and lack of lack of how do I put this, it is its lack of preparation by employers and also by people who, who they need to give some thought to the major problem Yeah.

And, and it’s almost ingrained in society that, you know, when we get a job when we finished university and then we get a job that that we are somehow going to be okay for the next 20 or 30 years in that job.

But those days are gone and people need to wake up to the fact that they need to up skill and they need to continually be learning every day they need to be learning something new.

Raji Rykert 21:02
Absolutely not. I completely agree with you. In fact, you know, if we’re not reinventing ourselves just about every other month because of the technology, because of the new business models, because of just the influx of information that comes our way, right. So I completely agree.

And I think that we can be more thoughtful and strategic and how and when I say we, I’m being people like you and me, because we’re doing it at a grassroots level, but also organizations, governments, communities, faith based organizations, the churches, right, working together, and I think there could be this tremendous synergy, yeah, movement and synergy if we can all work together to complement one another is doing versus working in silos.

And that’s why I think the work that you’re doing is so important because you’re a voice and you’re bringing so many people into the conversation really getting them to think because we’re not trying to make decisions for people right, who you’re going to support us.

And supporting a charity is a very intensely personal decision, right? And we’re all passionate about different things. But I think on a global scale, there’s so many more things that unite us and just you providing a forum for people like me and others to be heard, and to share that message with others. And if something resonates they now have a place that they can say you know, I want to get behind that and I want to see what’s going on and I want to get the newsletter and I you know, and and here’s $10 and and I’ll make $10 seem like it’s $100 because of my resource on those rights.

Nathaniel Schooler 22:32
It gives people something they can listen to and they can and they can understand about what’s going on. I’m big into like the homelessness problem I’m big into that because I’ve seen it’s been around you know, it’s around and a lot of places and a lot of people just ignore it. But I’m big into that. I you know, something that I sort of, I don’t know, I think a lot of people are just desensitized.

I think that they are hiding away from what’s really happening in the in the major issues in the world and and there is a lot of poverty there are a lot of problems but what’s going on right now in the computer industry certainly within the IBM space that I understand a bit about they they are pioneering a lot of technology which is going to help with supply chains and what’s going to happen in the next few years perhaps this year is the cost of food is going to go down.

The wastage is going to go down right and actually for the smart people who are buying right the price is going to go down.

Because supply chains are becoming more effective and you know not only that the the nutrition of of food is actually is actually going easily able to monitor it better so that they can they can actually give those foods and vegetables and everything the vitamins and minerals that they need it.

Just the right time or the pesticides so that or even the water so they’re not wasting water they’re not wasting ingredient you know they’re not wasting fertilizer and this and that so that so that we can actually eat better food and that in itself will be cheaper or it should be cheaper.

I mean if you look the price of food hasn’t changed really that much if you if you sort of look at it sure price of more expensive foods but over in England if you if you if you’re very careful. You can go to Lidl and Aldi and this have a cheaper supermarkets and eat very, very well actually.

But I think they’re just major issues with compassionate itself in society. And it’s almost like people just sort of hide away and and ignore the problem and it’s almost like well they ignore it because they don’t want to feel the pain they don’t want to take responsibility for for for what’s going on you know.

I mean and and they don’t know what to say to people if they’re not in a position to help someone they don’t understand that perhaps that person just need someone to go and have and say hello to them you know I mean I spoke to spoke to this chap who raised awareness for homelessness by he’s done all sorts of things the past three years he he went on a 14th Century Media, medieval pilgrimage to Canterbury and he walked in a monks outfit and to raise well to start with it was because so in the space of six weeks and we start at the beginning.

He basically got made redundant so he lost his job he his girlfriend left him, his dad died and he got Leukemia all in the space of six weeks. Yeah, it’s horrendous. So what he did was he, they sold their house.

So he wrote a letter to the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury and he said, Well, can I sleep in a church along the way? Because this is in the wintertime, if I get cold, can I sleep in a church?

So six weeks later, he got a reply from the Pope. And he got one back know you’ve gotten back from the Archbishop six weeks later, and then a week later or two from the pope? And I said, Sure.

So he went on this trip. This is monks outfit, and he didn’t pay for anything along the way. I mean, people gave him food beer in the pubs because he went to all the medieval pubs and he told them why he was doing it and everything and it was like that back in the day.

You were right what we were saying before we started recording that but then the churches would take responsibility. They would help people in, in society and, and unfortunately with with the destruction of of of that that comes at a price so someone either the churches or a charity or the government but someone has to take responsibility and you know.

I’m just trying to raise awareness for it. That’s all I’m doing. You know it’s my it’s part of my sort of ethos Yeah, doesn’t pay my bills, but it helps me in my soul, you know?

Raji Rykert 27:32
Yeah. Which is just as important. But you know, when you talk about that, it reminds me of the educational component to all of this because as people want to do something, then it’s people like you who are creating this platform, right for different voices to be heard. And there’s one thing that you mentioned that really struck me and I wanted to allude to it but I had been reading the book, one of the books of Dr. Caroline leaf, and Dr. Leaf talks about the neuro plasticity of the brain and something called epigenetics, epi, genetics.

And in these two things, it’s they describe it, and I’ll give it to you. In its simplest form. I’m not an expert on the topic of this, but my takeaway was, number one, the brain can change, we can actually physically change the brain, which is the neural plasticity part.

And that is through education and learning and growing and really exercising our muscle, the center you’ve heard, use it or lose it, right? So we’re going to use our brains. And then the second part of that the epigenetics is reprogramming, literally reprogramming our DNA through thought processes.

So whereas there has been the conversation of, well, people are born a certain way and you know, their father was an alcoholic and so this runs in the family. Well, yes, maybe through their cell composition and DNA, they are predisposed to certain things.

But at the end of the day, their brain still has the power to say, am I going to accept this label? Or am I going to change from this point on throughout all of history, everything is changing now. And when we make those decisions with resolve, and we determine things are going to be different for us, and we take those steps of faith to say, I don’t know how it’s all going to work out.

But I’m just going to keep moving forward. And this is what I’m resolving to do. And daily reminding ourselves maybe by the minute, if we’re having a really bad day in the description of this gentleman, you were, you know, talking about in six weeks as a world came apart, but he had to make a decision at some point that he was going to do some soul searching, he was going to take a completely different journey. And in doing that, and taking that step of faith and getting out of the boat, so to speak.

All his needs were met he I’m assuming he found PC, he found fulfillment and it was a very eye opening experience for them. So it’s the same way with the people, you know, that we’re reaching out to that I’m reaching out to through the organization as well that, you know, there’s an educational component, okay? So you’ve been fined as mentally ill your entire life.

But in this moment, if you can be mindful of the things that you’re thankful for, you’re changing the chemistry and the physical composition, composition, excuse me, you know, of your thought processes in your brain. Do you want to be responsible for that?

Or do you want to continue just, you know, whichever the way the wind blows is the way that you go. So, but with that comes personal responsibility. And that in and of itself takes courage, right? Because sometimes it’s easier to just sort of lay back and and let things go as they may, and then we’re victims and then we find ourselves in situations and maybe they get worse, maybe they get better, but we’re always sort of in a state of flux. #

And now I’m saying through the empowerment and the message and the health will give you the help that you also have have an opportunity to find yourself and this is how you can do it take the red pill or the blue pill.

Nathaniel Schooler 31:09
I can’t argue with any of that. I think I think the moment that we that we realized that we’re actually in control yes is the empowerment moment that you’re talking about, isn’t it?

And and I think we’re all we’re all victims until we get to that point of realizing that we are responsible for where we’ve ended up and we don’t like it we might not like the fact that we’ve ended up where we are, we might be you know, we might be suffering in some shape or form.

But the moment we made that decision to do something we can do it you know, and but I think it’s also making sure that the people around us encourage us the right way and and actually just making sure that you just don’t hang out with people who you don’t want to be like because you know.

I mean they I don’t know who said it but so many people say it but you know you become like the people you hang out with and I really a very very careful with the people I hang out with. To the point of just only really spending time with people that I want to spend time with; people who actually genuinely have my best interest at heart.

I think that’s that’s important to be a judge of character but if you but if you can’t judge character you need you need some assistance from someone who can help you at that point. I mean, I’ve been very lucky to have mentors over the last sort of eight years who’ve who’ve helped me a lot and without those mentors, I wouldn’t be sitting here with you now interviewing you on my Podcast.

I don’t know what I’d be doing but it wouldn’t it wouldn’t be that so I think it’s really goes back to finding someone who has done what you’ve done and got to where you want to get to. This is the best advice that I’ve heard from from people or you find a handful of people who have excelled in particular fields and and you and you just hang out with them I mean that’s that’s what I’ve done and and you know.

We’re all on a journey I’m trying to get somewhere like everyone else but I’m trying to enjoy my journey and that’s the I think that’s the major problem is that in society we’re all obsessed with getting somewhere and it’s like well where are we actually getting to like we can all we can all aspire to build the next PayPal or build the next or whatever you know lifestyle business or whatever it is but the thing is we can just get lost in in doing that and stressed along the way and then that can actually derail us.

So the sort of goal of all I’m going to build the next PayPal or WhatsApp or whatever, and sell it for billions and become a billionaire to most people, they’re not willing to do that they’re not willing to put the work in to do that. And that goes the same for lifestyle businesses.

They’re not willing to start a lifestyle business. They just want to go home after nine to five and and work right from nine to five, Monday through Friday. But the point is, is that I don’t think you can actually do that anymore. I really don’t think you can do that anymore. I think that from from, from my own knowledge of just seeing what’s going on out there.

We are becoming there are more and more freelancers out there. Apparently, like 20% of employment is going to be freelancers, the gig economy is what people call it in the next thing is the next five years is what they’re saying 20% of people so so then if you if you step back a bit, and you look down on the earth, right?

And you say, Well, how is that going to affect me?

I find it fascinating been doing a lot of lot of lot of interviews recently with people who interviewed a CEO of an insurance company. He was he was sleeping in his car when he started this, pretty much. It was 19 years old. When he started it. He’s like, 47. Now he became a multi millionaire. And he was 26, I think. I think it was. Yeah, I think it was 26 actually. And super interesting guy.

But what my point is, he was actually saying that why don’t you just step back a little bit and think about if you if you lived on a planet, and there was nothing on that planet, okay, what would you put on it? Would you would you have a car? or Would you walk everywhere? Which you have a big five bedroom house?

Or would you have a one bedroom? Which you plant vegetables in your garden? Or would you have chickens? Or would you have a high powered job and have whatever employees?

So it’s kind of like a lot of the time it is going back to that. And the problem with with people when they’re in that position is that they cannot see that themselves. #

They can’t imagine it themselves, because they’re so stressed with their current situation that they are pulling their hair out.

Raji Rykert 36:34
Well. And I think to your point, Nate, that it’s very liberating. If you had the vision, you don’t always have to figure out what the end is going to look like. You just have to know that this is what is fueling me to take one step in front of the other in front of the other and how I’m going to get there is not for me to figure out so that there’s freedom in that right and then the other thing about surrounding yourself with people who can take them to a higher place.

You make wonderful contributions to the lives of so many. So you want to make sure you surround yourself with people who are also like minded in that way. And because it can go either way, right? Like you said that old saying birds of a feather flock together.

So you want to be around the people that inspire you, that bring out the creativity in you. You know, there’s people that sometimes you clash with, but then there’s that old saying about iron sharpens iron. So sometimes in those classes and conflict, we grow even more than if we had just simply been coasting through life. Right?

And then you we proved the metaphors of the baby chick that bites its way out of it, shall we, the butterfly that, you know, comes out of the cocoon and if you assistant it will actually die so we need that resistance to grow and learn and be our best self so but but at to your you know, the conversation that we were having a new we’re expressing about the importance of just having the resolve the determination, because that is an important component to changing anything right?

First that decision and then let the rest take care of itself.

Nathaniel Schooler 38:04
Yeah I agree I think determinations massive I mean you must have had to been so determined to sort of get where you’ve got to if you’ve got any if you’ve got any insights for for people who are in a bad place and they want to they want to get somewhere else?


Raji Rykert 38:20
Yes I absolutely do you know in the last five years I went through a very difficult and traumatic time of transition where a series of things occurred and it just felt so unfair and so I felt really derailed in life disappointed disillusion and it took me about a year to get my bearings again.

And part of that was just when I lay in bed to wake up that morning and say thank you for this day. Thank you that I have breath you know, creating an attitude of gratitude and just doing one thing so maybe I’d get out of bed make myself account of tea, or, you know, Indian culture child to spice tea. So I’d make myself a cup of Chai, and I’d sit and play with my bird. You know, that brought me joy.

They gave me peace in the moment. And that’s how I took care of myself. And then the next day, maybe I’d add one more thing. And then the next day, one more thing, but it did take a year.

And I was willing to give myself that space and time somehow believing that once I got through this journey, that maybe other people would be helped. And indeed, it was, as soon as I turned the corner and my joy came back and you know, my, my vibrant desire to live a full life and just all the things where I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself, despite the impaired things that have taken place. It gave me that focus.

And then I was able to turn around and share that message of hope with other people. And say :- “You know, you might not be feeling great now, you might be down in the dumps. This happened in Yes, that was terribly unfair, and you had no control over it, but in this moment, we are still have a choice.”

And I even remember speaking to a professional therapist about this. And when she said, I still had a choice and how I was going to respond, it really made me angry. And I said that, don’t you understand, you know, this happened or that happened.

This was all so unfair. And she said, yes:- “It was unfair but you still have a choice.”

And I didn’t want to have that sense of personal responsibility. But after she said it a couple of times, very loving and very supportive.

But just a gentle reminder that I am the captain of my ship to some degree, right? I mean, I don’t have to figure out where my ship is going.

I mean, I figured out where my ship was going to determine that part. But I didn’t know how it was going to get there. Which Island they might stop at, or you know, completely get caught up in a storm that I had no control over the gill ones that are shredding my sales and yet I still chose to have my peace and I was going to do what I could a hot cup of tea that just made my soul rejoice or playing with my little birds, you know, and just looking at the wonder of nature and God’s creation.

So I think that’s where that personal responsibility comes in.

Nathaniel Schooler 41:06
With the determination and all this sort of stuff. I think, I think you’ve got to have that. But we’ve only really been through these problems so that we can actually help other people as well. I think

Raji Rykert 41:19
if we can’t share our story, and help other people with what we’ve overcome, then our suffering was for naught.

Nathaniel Schooler 41:28
Yeah, but would you would you say that that suffering has built determination? Or would you say that determination was there anyway?

Raji Rykert 41:38
in my personal case, I’m a very determined person. So probably, I was born with that. And and it’s been, it’s interesting, because I came from a very interesting background and family dynamic.

Did you ever see the movie Little Miss Sunshine and kinda, it was a story where this little girl just wants to be in this beauty pageant and her family, as nutty as they are, and sort of all over the map. But they all come together to support her. And that was sort of my experience.

Nathaniel Schooler 42:11

Raji Rykert 42:11
There was a lot of interesting and unhealthy dynamics going on in my home. But if I would have told people I wanted to be president, everybody able to rally around me and said, you go for it, go be president. So it gave me this sense of confidence and determination, where I felt powerless to do anything, but I realized that’s also part of my personality and decision that everybody is like that, right? Yeah. And being given that sort of temperament and disposition. If there was an obstacle to overcome, I would be the one to overcome it. So I just would not let anything rob me of what I felt like my destiny should be.

Nathaniel Schooler 42:49
Yeah, I resonate with that completely, actually.

Raji Rykert 42:54
And sometimes we start out writing one chapter a certain way. And then a, something else comes along that changes that story. And there’s been plenty of times where I’ve looked at my life and said, You know, this is a movie I just don’t want to be in, and how do I get out of it. And sometimes I’d get out of it. And sometimes I wouldn’t just ride this thing out till the end.

Even with that, you know, I grown so much as a person. And I’d like to think that I love more deeply, you know, I forgive more easily that the pieces of fragments, you know, have been used in a way that really can help others. And, you know, when I, when it’s my turn to leave this earth, I can say, you know, I left the legacy and I did something that was beyond me, I think, if our vision is too small, then we’re going to accomplish it in our lifetime. But then it’s too small. So it needs to be something that’s so big that when we leave its continued.

Nathaniel Schooler 43:51
Yeah, you’ve got a really good attitude. And I think that’s that it’s really nice to hear that you’re doing something for people, you know, that I mean, I think talking to a gentleman the other day with a, with a, with a distillery and to distilleries, actually. And and and what he said was that he’s got a business, but the byproduct of the business is to help is to actually help people. And I think what I like about what you’re doing is, is that is that 100% of the money goes to the people.

I think that is that, you know, that is really, really important. And the more charities that can do that the better. I mean, obviously, you know, this QR code was talking about, obviously, they have costs that they need to pay for payments and stuff like this.

So, you know, that’s always going to be a cost to business because you got to pay for security infrastructure and this. But yeah, I’m quite excited about the future. I think that with with the new technologies out there with Blockchain, which is in essence, the backbone of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies, you know, people who never had a bank account are going to be able to have money or so sort of equivalent. So that in itself is gonna is going to help change a billion people out of lots of poverty.

Raji Rykert 45:09

Nathaniel Schooler 45:11
So we’ve got, we’ve got some interesting years ahead of us. And I think we keep up the momentum and the awareness around it. It’s going to be going to be very exciting.

Raji Rykert 45:19
Yes, I totally agree with you, Nate.

Nathaniel Schooler 45:22
Well, it’s been a real joy, but I’m gonna have to go because I’ve got to go and do some do some tweeting. So long story. I don’t tweet while I’m while I’m, while I’m talking to people. I think it’s quite rude, personally

Raji Rykert 45:37
Appreciate that.

Nathaniel Schooler 45:40
Thank you, Raji. So how do people to people support your charity if they want to help you

Raji Rykert 45:46
Yes, they can visit our website which is www.helpingamericanow.org

And then they can shoot us an email through the website, there’s button, there’s a button and they can just donate directly. There’s different scholarships, if they want to look at the scholarships and identify something that they specifically want to contribute towards. And we would just welcome the the help, whether its financial, whether people want to stay in touch with their newsletter, with our newsletter, or if they just want to partner with us, and they find us there and maybe in the local community, and they want to join forces. So I welcome everyone and everyone

Nathaniel Schooler 46:30
I might introduce you to someone on LinkedIn. If we’re not connected, then we need to get connected on there. And, and I’ll I’ll introduce you to someone or two people. Actually, if I can find them, I’ll track them down and and introduce you. It should be really good actually, for what you’re doing someone quite local to you, who’s really good at raising money.

Raji Rykert 46:48
Love that. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate this opportunity. I’m honored that you took the time to speak with me and learn more about what I’m doing. And I think that the conversation is going to come you I just sort of have that sense, you know,

Nathaniel Schooler 47:02
Yeah, me too. I’ll let you know when it’s edited. And thanks so much.

nat 47:10
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