My name is Danny Boice and I am the CEO of Trustify. In this post, Jen Mellon shares the fourth part of Chapter 3: The Voice. Jen Mellon is my wife, and she’s also the co-founder and president of Trustify. Stay tuned on our Journey to Trust book series that we publish daily.
I was preparing all through high school, with each grade earned and each college application I sent. I was preparing when I focused my college studies on East Asia and religion. And I was preparing when I supplemented my degree with fast-track executive management courses. And while I was busy preparing, my preparation led me to a flyer in the library announcing that Bucknell alumni Kerry Marks Hasenbalg, Founder of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), was speaking on campus. CCAI was and is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping facilitate adoptions, especially from overseas. I knew from reading the bio that she had done the things I had dreamed of: helping foster children in the U.S., working with child soldiers in Uganda, helping sick kids in China. She was my in, my way of fulfilling the dreams that had blossomed from the pages of Reader’s Digest.
The night of the talk, Kerry walked into the auditorium briskly, wearing a navy suit, dark blonde hair falling down her back. She didn’t look left or right. She was clear. Focused. I sat in the front row and couldn’t take my eyes off her. As she described meeting a former child soldier who now had a regular job and a family, I felt a quiet peace settle over me. There was a way to save these kids, and here was the path laid out before me. I knew I had to be part of CCAI when I graduated in a few months.
I was the first one to rush to the podium when the talk ended.
“I have to work for you,” I told Kerry, managing to sound only slightly out of breath.
Kerry was putting away her notes into a big black tote bag, but she looked up. “I don't have a job for you. Sorry. We’re just not hiring. And our budget is quite small right now…”
She thanked me for my interest and politely told me to look elsewhere. I was determined to find another way in. I started following the organization online, checking everything I could. The CCAI logo was taped to my dorm-room door, and I found myself drifting to articles about its work constantly. And then, a month after Kerry’s talk, I saw the ad: the CCAI was hiring for an admin role.
I polished my resume and mailed it with an application letter before an hour had passed, and I wasn’t surprised to get a call for an interview. I was surprised, however, when this organization that I was meant to be a part of told me this over the phone: “You're overqualified for this. This is not...look, listen. There's a job at the adoption agency above us. You should go interview for that.” I hung up the phone in stunned disbelief.
I applied for the adoption agency job. I can still help kids, and I’ll be close to the CCAI, I thought when my answering machine blinked red with a request for an interview. Months had passed since I had been told by God not to go to China, and I was still searching for the next step on my path. Maybe this was it.
In my best black suit, sitting across from an oak desk piled high with papers, I watched as a grey-haired man from the agency thumbed through my resume and frowned. He looked at me over the smallest of four stacks of canary-colored files. “Really, you should be working downstairs with CCAI.”
I was spending hours navigating the ramps and highways between DC and Lewisburg for these interviews. I was getting familiar with the street of white buildings and brick walk-ups. I was meant to be there, and this was getting ridiculous. I reached out to Kerry again: “The agency told me I need to work for you. I just want to be part of what you’re doing and I know I’ll be a good fit. It doesn’t have to be an impressive job. I'll sweep floors for you. Please. I know I’m meant to do this. I know I’m meant to help these kids.”
Kerry always was a badass and she wasn’t going to give me the runaround. “Fine―come down and talk to us.”
I had worn her down. At the end of the interview, after I had laid it all bare―all I had studied and my passion for helping children―Kerry just nodded. Just nodded. Can you imagine? So I took a big risk: I told her I felt guided by God to serve children. That lit her up. She was a believer. She took a long look at me, and I felt the hand of God at work. “I'm going to create this internship for you,” Kerry said. “You have six months, $12,000 a year and we'll see if we like you.”
...to be continued.