City Works

“C’mon Jimmy, hit him in the face! Break his freakin’ nose man!” Donny screamed. Blam! The lights went out. I woke up two hours later in the hospital with a policeman standing guard at the door.

“Where am I?” I moaned. A nurse was behind the head of my bed fiddling with something and she answered me.

“You’re at City Hospital and you are in the custody of the New York Police Department so you’d better just talk and don’t try jumping out of that bed, okay,” she told me.

“Why am I here?” I asked her.

“You were in a nasty street fight last night and got your bell rung real good. That’s why!” she stated with authority.

“Oh, Uh…. Okay.” I mumbled. As it happened, I had a concussion from hitting my head on the road after being sucker-punched.

I guess I should take a minute to introduce myself to you. My name is Jimmy Womack and I was raised without a Father. We lived in LA and not in the good part of town. At first, my Mom, who is a good person, by the way, did a pretty good job of taking care of me when I was really little. She didn’t explain that there was no man in the house and I didn’t know that there was supposed to be. Nobody was the worse for it until I was old enough to walk around and meet the other kids in my hood. That’s when the trouble started. I remember the day I asked her why.

“Hey Momma, why don’t I have a Dad?” I asked looking up at her with those sad eyes.

“Well honey,” she told me, “Your father was not a good man and you just don’t worry about that right now you hear!”

She was stern with me about it and as I grew older, I realized that she should have told me. She should have just answered my question. After all, is that too much to ask of your Mother?

It wasn’t until I was a teenager and getting wilder by the day that she owned up and finally sat me down and told me the whole story.

“Your Dad was a gambler and a loser.” She said. “I regret ever meeting him but back then but I wasn’t a Mother yet and I was pretty wild-hearted myself. I’m not proud of this but well, we met in Casey’s Saloon one night and I was pretty hammered. I don’t remember anything about that night other than that I woke up the next morning in his bed.” she said looking down at her feet.

“I am so sorry Jimmy I am. If I could go back and do it all again, I would do it differently but that’s not how life works. I wouldn’t trade you for the world and it’s just you and me baby and there is no Dad in this house.” she muttered.

For the first time in my life, I felt sorry for her. I could see that she meant what she was telling me, and I could hear the passion in her voice. She was hurting more than I was and that was not right. All this was after I got out of the hospital that day and had to go to court. The judge had looked over my files and was concerned about fatherless families and believed that if he sent me to jail, that would only lessen my chances of turning my life around. He was right. I owe that man my life really if you think about it like that. He saw the good in me long before I saw it myself. All that helped me to think things through.

Why do kids do the things they do?

I began to ask myself questions. Aren’t we all born equal and all with the same opportunities in this life and don’t we all make our own life decisions? Which road to follow and the chances for us to grow and prosper?

Within a couple of months of that court appearance, I had started my mandatory public service and I got an idea. I chose to work with the kids down at the community center to work off my sentence and I found out that almost all of them grew up in what came to be known as a “Fatherless Family!” So I wasn’t so special. I wasn’t the only kid without a father who acted out in a vindictive and aggressive manner. Not even close. I soon realized I had a vision.

I had seen both sides of this coin and was in a position to make a difference. Do some good for our community. I finished my community service and was released from all stipulations by the court. My experiences in those days set the stage for something I would do that would change a lot of kids' lives but it would take time and money, so I set about following my vision.

I was 24 now and had my own apartment. I had a plan. I worked in construction for two full years until I had some money saved up. Then I took all the steps needed to establish a nonprofit organization and I called it “LifeWorks.” With the money that I had saved from my construction job, I rented a small building downtown and put up a marque out front. I couldn’t believe it? Just from that sign and the contacts I had kept with the community center, I was flooded with young boys who had no fathers and had lots of trouble just like I had back in the day. I was very pleased with the success of my little operation and soon had to hire several people to help with the classes and counseling.

One of those people was Samantha James. She was a psychic and a teacher. I was very lucky to get her because when I hired her, at the interview she said,

“have you thought about teaching the kids meditation?”

I didn’t even know what that was, so of course, the answer was no. So I hired her on the spot, and the first thing we did was to meet privately at the center and teach me meditation. I loved it!

“Why haven’t I been doing this all my life?” I asked her one day. She just chuckled and said,
“Can you now imagine what this will do for your kids?” She was right. The difference in these kids was nothing short of amazing.

Soon, I modified the marque to include the words mindfulness and meditation so when the new kids came in, that was always their first question.

“What is mindfulness Mr. Womack?” they all asked. I was only too pleased to sit them down in my office and tell them my own story, and I never left out a bit of it. That gave us common ground so instead of,
“Hey, this old guy thinks he can teach us something!” it was,
“You’ve got to try this meditation stuff! It works and it’s fun too!”

Then some reporters started coming by regularly. Everyone wanted to know how I was doing it… how I was turning out not one or two, but every kid that came through those doors had their lives turned around very quickly, and they all did it for themselves. We gave them the tools and they made it happen. The center became a really happy place, and you could feel it when you came in. After the papers printed their stories about “LifeWorks,” the news people from the local channels started showing up at the center at all hours. It was almost funny to watch them try to be the first to break the big story on their channels.

I was asked to be interviewed on TV and I gladly obliged. My Mom was the proudest mother in the city and I always included her in all the interviews and appearances so that she could tell her side of the story. You know, how I was a wild child and ended up in the hospital with a clocked head. She gave it color and character and I brought real-life changes to the entire story.

Then one day, a man came into the center and asked for me. He had on a black suit and he reminded me of an FBI agent. Somewhere deep inside of me, a little voice said,

“RUN!” I laughed inwardly and extended my hand to him.

“I’m Jimmy Womack,” I said. “How can I help you, sir?” He shook my hand and handed me his business card.

“Actually, “ he said, “It is I who can help you, Mr. Womack. My name is Joseph McMillan and I represent McMillan Enterprises. We began our organization somewhat like you.” He told me, “in similar circumstances although we could have never done it as quickly and completely as you have,” he went on. “What we do is find people who can make things work in communities like yours, and then we build them up all across the country.” He stated.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t believe I understand you. Are you offering to buy my operation or what?” I asked.

“Oh, no-no Mr. Womack. We are not interested in changing anything that you have built here. What you have done… what we have read for the last year and watched on television, is exactly why we are interested in talking to you.

“You see, our benefactor is a very wealthy man. A philanthropist if you will. He simply has too much money and not a lot of time left to spend it, so he finds worthy causes, like yours, and helps make them reach a much wider populace, thereby helping more people than even you sir, could do here in this one building. Not that you have not worked magic because, as I said, that’s why I’m here.”

The room grew quiet and we sat there looking at each other for a moment.

“Can you give me an exact breakdown of what you would like to do regarding LifeWorks?” I asked, breaking the silence.

“I will be happy to do exactly that Mr. Womack.” He said.

“Please, call me Jimmy I said,” becoming more interested in this man’s offer with each new moment.

“The key to understanding what we are offering you is that you own the business and that will never change. There will be no board of directors, no stock or outside business dealings, it stays just like it is now with one major difference,” he told me.
“Go on,” I coaxed him,

“That is the establishment of a carbon copy of this building, the marque outside, everything just the same, in every big city across America. The reason we are offering this to you is that every city has Fatherless families, and they all need the same help that you have given these kids here. Are you with me so far?” he asked.

My head was beginning to swim. I thought that this had to be way too good to be true. Was it a prank? A joke on me in some bazaar way? I couldn’t find any logical reason why anyone would even do anything like that to me. I was now a highly respected and civic-minded member of our little community and well, what would they have to gain? I mused.

“I realize that this is a huge bomb to come in here and drop upon you, but I assure you, everything is on the level and we are a legitimate corporation with a long history of helping people just like you sir. People who, of their own accord, got up one day and went out and made a huge contribution to their communities.

“You’ve got to know that this is exactly what you have done here Mr. Womack… Uh… Jimmy!” he told me.

“Well, yes, I guess I do but I don’t think it’s anything anyone else wouldn’t have done if you think about it that way,” I told him.

“But no one else has done it you see. In this, you are unique. Make no mistake, we have been following your story from the first time we noticed it hit the news and it is big, very big Jimmy. Other communities need your services and we can provide that!” I was quiet.

“From here, I think it would be best if you take some time and let all this sink in. Talk to your people, especially Samantha James. She sir, is a jewel and I think it would be fair to say, you were lucky you found her. The idea of developing mindfulness in young kids is perfect. We at McMillan Enterprises love how you’ve incorporated that key element into your programs here. It is simply wonderful. “ he beamed at me.

“So I recommend that you take as long as you need to do your homework. Check into McMillan Enterprises, check our beautiful online site, and check up on what people are saying about our work. When you are sufficiently pleased with what you find, and I assure you that you will be, just give me a call, and we’ll arrange a meeting with Mr. McMillan, okay Jimmy?” he said.

I have a good internal sense of people, of who they are and of their honesty, and I had a great feeling about Mr. Joseph McMillan. Within an hour after he left the building, I was sure about how to proceed. I called my staff and we held what was in all probability, the most important meeting we have ever had to date. Everyone was stunned, as I was at first, but they correctly read my body language and realized, that I was the one who had hired them, the one who had built our organization that had made such a huge difference in our community. This gave them all leave to readily share my excitement. We became unanimously sold on the new plan.

Samantha had already taken me aside earlier that day and given me her blessing. She said all of her senses pointed to good results with the McMillan Corporation and had no doubts whatsoever about any part of the plan.

The next morning, I put in a call to Joseph and he sent a limousine around to pick up myself and Samantha. We rode in style to their offices downtown and Joseph was in the garage and greeted us with his warm smile.

“Good morning Jimmy, Miss Samantha,” he said, “If you will please follow me to the elevators.”

We rode the elevator to the top floors of the building. McMillan had the top two floors and the views were amazing.

“Would you like coffee?” Joseph asked us.

“I would love a cup,” we both said in unison laughing afterward.

Joseph led us into a conference room with a long dark oak table that had eagle's feet at the bottom of its legs. Then he excused himself and told us he would be right back. Samantha pointed out how the deep turquoise patterns on the chair seats were an Aztec design, and also commented on the carpeting. It was incredibly soft and felt lush to walk upon, and the color was a deep crimson with the same Aztec type of patterns in light tan, trimmed with gold around the edges. The walls were covered with a cloth-like material that looked like a shiny burlap but had no detectable edges and appeared to be one huge piece that we both found quite unusual. Then, the large double doors swung wide open, and Joseph entered pushing a very old, white-haired man in a wheelchair.

“This is my father, Mr. Walter J, McMillan. Father, I would like to present to you, Mr. Jimmy Womack and Miss Samantha James.” Joseph said.

“Well, how do you do my young friends. I have heard so much about you both, and it is an extreme pleasure to make your acquaintance.” He said.

“Shall we talk?” the old man asked.

“Yes,” I responded. “I am very interested to learn more about your program.”

Joseph opened the meeting and said,

“First, we would like to thank you for allowing us to bring you here and for your agreement to be a part of our organization. Our system is quite easy to understand really. What we would like to do for you is to send you over a transition team of our best people who will assist you with everything from funds, to travel, to vehicles, and to whatever it is that you decide you need. You will both have access to a private luxury aircraft at your discretion, and anything and everything you need, you may acquire through your transition team.

We have some paperwork for you and in particular, an outline that should help you to understand how to go about deciding where you want to open any new locations, and what to do to start the ball rolling. After you do the first one or two, you will find that it will become much easier each time until you are a pro at establishing new locations for outlets of the “City Works” project.

The meeting was extraordinary and stretched on for a couple of hours. The elder Mr. McMillan fell asleep during the first half-hour but thanks to Joseph, we accomplished everything we needed to get started. During the next few months, we opened a “City Works” in San Diego, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Tucson, with plans for Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Philadelphia, and more to come after that.

A press release was contracted in most of those cities, and after opening no less than 15 new locations, we were making a huge difference across the continental United States in the reduction of gang participation, the lowering of the crime rate, and an uptick in the school attendance rolls, as well as eventual college entries on the part of young people everywhere.

It seems that mindfulness and meditation had taken the country by storm, and that produced good-hearted and strong community-minded young adults. Not bad for a former hoodlum with a concussion eh?