(Update by Dennis & Mary)
The title simply and effectively describes the daily efforts of Jill Markussen’s life. Her story continues to inspire and motivate. For those of you not familiar with Jill, she was Love Drop’s first ever family selected in December of 2010 to be the initial family for the launch of Love Drop 01-01-2011. Mary and I had the opportunity, working early on with Nate and J$, to nominate and sponsor Jill. Then we had the amazing honor and charge of telling Jill and her family’s story through film.
Since January, Jill has taken the small love we all provided and hasn’t looked back. Sometimes I think she barely needed our help, she was going to make it through with or without Love Drop’s generosity. Let us tell you, it is quite the experience knowing Jill, becoming her friend and sounding board, and then ultimately, in some small way, helping her to pay forward the blessings her family received.
We can still vividly remember the moment the call came in February just three weeks after Jill’s Drop. Mary and I were in Dallas, TX at the time, driving to meet Katie Howard to film her for Love Drop’s March recipient. We pulled over into a strip mall parking lot as Jill eagerly discussed her hopes, dreams and plans to launch her own non-profit to help a homeless family in her home county of DuPage, one family per month. A dream she’d had for well over a year. And she was asking if we could help her.
The Launch of Project Flipmode
The name of the new organization is Project Flipmode, inspired by her oldest daughter Tanya, who passed away from a life-long battle with liver disease at the age of 24 in 2008. “Flipmode” was Tanya’s nickname.
Mary and I had originally gifted a blog site to Jill at her January Drop to help her spread the word on “The New Face of Homelessness” that now has embraced our country. She has become an avid and outspoken proponent for the homeless since she herself was homeless from early 2008 to mid-2010. She built her life back through the assistance of Bridge Communities after losing her home shortly after losing her job in 2007.
Then to lose everything she owned in a fire only weeks after getting back on her own in October of 2010, anyone else would have crumbled under the adversity. Not Jill, she just plowed ahead… with sheer determination.
She needed a place to find her voice and we felt she had the ability to find blogging in the process. It came slowly as she wasn’t comfortable in the backend of WordPress. But just a month later she had the real reason now to dive in head first, Project Flipmode needed to launch, and in true Jill fashion, she set a definitive deadline.
After a series of Skype calls (Jill apologizing through each one), and finding her a quality WordPress template to speed her along, Jill had designed and built her own web environment for Project Flipmode all on her own will. Uploading photos, writing blog entries on the selected family’s life situation, breaking the site and another Skype call : ). Jill had met her launch deadline of June 1st, 2011, had selected her first family to help in June, and she was off.
With her new site in place, that was all Jill needed. Exploding onto Facebook June 1st with promo after promo, connecting every social contact to her new endeavor, making phone call after phone call, Jill had launched Project Flipmode, making it all happen… with sheer determination.
We remember with a big grin June 18th as we tested the new PayPal donate button for her before she pushed it on Facebook, Jill scolding us as we confirmed the setup by donating $10 instead of just a test $1, then her trying to get us to accept a refund.
Jill’s First “Flip”
For this past holiday weekend Mary and I could not think of anything better we could possibly want to do more then attend the first ever “Flip Day” as Jill prepared to change the life of one family on Sunday, July 3rd. So we ventured out, camera always in hand : ) to make our way to meet Jill, her family and her new June “Flip” family.
Jill’s efforts for the June family, you say?
- A host of much needed household and cleaning items
- A new vacuum cleaner
- An iPod for the mother
- A Flip camera for the high school age son
- Oh yeah… and a new, used car donated by a local dealership, Wickstrom Chevrolet to help both mother and son get to work and school
- And just for grins… she has Chicago’s ABC News crew there to record the Flip Day to develop a story for Ron Magers’ “Spirit of Giving” segment to air Thursday, July 7th on the 5:00 pm ABC News cast
Jill made the calls, pushed the promos, cold-called the dealership, visited the dealership personally on multiple occasions, then convinced ABC News… this was her June family and she was going to deliver.
Meeting her back in December, telling her story, getting to know her children… all of it has been a life changing experience for us. Truly inspiring to be a part of Jill’s journey, to help her in any small way, to simply be called a friend of a women with, well… sheer determination.
Follow Project Flipmode at their sparkling new site built by her daughter, Jessica Anderson and her talented web team at Controlled Fate – like, share, post, comment and spread the word…
— Dennis Hildebrand & Mary Montavon