Here are some examples of what our clients think of our service.
My wife and I cannot recommend Ray enough. This was our first home buying experience and from the very first moment we met with Ray he made everything so easy. He gave sound advice, he was never pushy and no question we had was stupid. He took the time to make sure we knew exactly what we were doing every step of the way. Ray has a wealth of knowledge and was able to break things down for us in a way that was very easy to understand. My parents were so impressed with our experience that they are now looking to Ray to help them with their moving plans!
Real Estate Client
Without Ray's help, my son would have drowned in an inappropriate environment. Instead, he is back to learning and loving school! Thank you!!!!
Special Education Advocacy Client
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Howdy! You’re reading this because you probably received one of our masks and have some questions. Here are your answers!
1. Your mask can be washed in the washing machine.
We prewash the fabric we get so it should not run or bleed once you get it. That said, if you want to wash it on its own first that probably isn’t a bad idea as I purchase the fabric. I don’t make it.
2. Your mask will fit a filter.
There is a 3″ gap at the top of your mask that you can use to insert a filter. Filter materials vary, but many folks use either coffee filters or shop towels. I’ll make a video showing how to insert a filter later, but for now just know that you can insert a filter if you like.
3. Your nose piece is replaceable if it wears out or falls out.
Just turn your mask inside out and look on the back side of the masks. There is a seam sewn in the middle of the mask. Lift up the flap and insert the nose piece through the middle section above the seam. I use pipe cleaners for the nose pieces, but a small piece of low gauge wire works too.
4. If your mask is too big:
You can tie off the elastic bands to make them smaller.
5. If your mask is too small:
You can make some extra elastic lengths and tie them in to the existing elastic. Hair bands make great extenders.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned here as I’m sure this will get updated frequently.
When the pandemic quarantine started, having everyone at home was a bit of a shock to both my wife and me. Add to that the fact that we were both still working while our son was out of school and you have all the components necessary for disaster. So one of my first thoughts in mid-March was “what am I going to do to keep my son engaged and interested?” That was followed quickly by “how do I keep my somewhat germaphobic son from being afraid and anxious all the time about the coronavirus?
Then I read about crafters sewing masks to help first responders, and I had an idea. Rushing to our basement, I discovered several yards of Thomas the Tank Engine fabric we bought years ago for a long forgotten project. Thinking out loud to my wife, I said “maybe if we make masks out of this material, our son will wear them and feel safe.” She enthusiastically agreed, so she got our sewing machine back from her parents and we started sewing. This was around the end of the first week of April.
So y’all have some history on why I thought of this, I learned to sew as a child. My dad taught me, and his mom had taught him. My dad grew up on a farm so learning skills was how you survived. My grandfather on my mom’s side also taught me a bit after my dad got frustrated. This frustration would normally happen after I bird-nested the bobbin thread because I sewed too fast. Apparently I didn’t follow directions well and rushed through things as a kid. Nobody who knows me now would ever guess that, am I right? So I have this small family tradition of sewing, and I felt I could teach my son to sew and carry it on another generation. Plus Kelly’s mom sews as well, and apparently that is a learned skill in her family too. So even better as we get to combine family traditions into our shared heritage.
That said, the devil is in the details. I have not used a sewing machine since I was in my 20s, and I turn 50 this year. It took a few days of reading the manual and attempting to sew masks before I really got back in the swing of things. However, I did learn how to do some things that had eluded me before, like how to raise the bobbin thread and backstitch quickly without screwing everything up.
Also, the mask types were confusing. I wanted a mask that I could insert a filter into if I chose, but many of them doubled up the fabric so much I broke my needles. Kelly and I researched and tried several patterns before we found one that I could repeat quickly with the needles intact. That took about a week and a half as we cycled through pattern after pattern and broke needles left and right. However, we finally got it right and were able to produce our first masks to give away on April 19th.
Along the way we talked about why we make masks, why they are important, how they keep people safe, and why we were giving them away. We have always taught to Raymond about volunteering and giving back to our community, as that is a family value. It’s also how Kelly and I met, so we both believed in it prior to getting together. This project was another opportunity for us to live our values and help other people. At first our community was family and friends, but as we make more masks we are expanding our circle of giving.
The most amazing thing is how focused and motivated about mask making Raymond has become. Every day he asks me when we are making masks, and I never get an argument when I call him to start working. He has learned to iron, cut materials, and sew, although he is as impatient as I apparently was as a teen. But the best thing is that it gives him joy to make and give these away. So by expanding our giving circle we are also expanding our joy.
Kelly is still learning to sew, but her core competency is managing operations, so she searches out new fabrics, finds discounts, and helps keep the process moving quickly. She also manages to find discount codes like a ninja, which helps us as we are doing this on a shoestring budget.
We came up with the name today. M.A.S.C means “Making A Safer Community” because we are helping folks not spread germs, which helps everyone around us. As of this afternoon we have made and given away 47 masks, and we will probably make 5-7 more tonight. We have spent a fair amount of money on fabric and supplies, but its worth it for what we are able to give away.
So there are two things we need. First, we need to know folks who need masks so we can get them covered. If you know of anyone local that needs masks, let me know. We will go into detail in our next post, “The Care and Feeding of your M.A.S.C.” but we use clean cloth and wash our hands. We don’t have the wherewithal to mail masks out yet. We can donate some to local nonprofits, but we produce 5-7 masks a day max so we can’t outfit an army overnight.
The second thing we need is supplies. We have bought some fabric and geared up with needles and thread, but we can always use more. If you want to make a cash donation of some sort so we can buy more material, email us and we will give you our Venmo, PayPal, or Apple Pay info. We are not a nonprofit though, so it won’t be tax deductible. If you want to donate fabric or other supplies and are local, message us and we will figure out how to link up.
In closing, we are overjoyed at how this project has brought our family together. We all sit around our kitchen table in the evenings making masks. We take turns picking songs to play so the soundtrack always changes, but it is family time that is different than anything else we have done. If you want to do this yourself and need some guidance, hit us up. We are happy to share what we did in hopes it will work for you. In the meantime, we will keep making masks so y’all let us know if you need them. Stay safe and wash your hands!
The text below is a transcription of what I announced on Facebook Live. It may not be exact, but the vast majority of the content is the same. Enjoy!
Hello everyone. Welcome to my first live announcement of 2019 for Nelson Advocacy. This is a big one for me, because one of my major goals in starting this business was helping folks who cannot afford me. Today I can do that, at least for one lucky family.
Starting last February, I
raised my rates. In doing so, I dedicated $5 of every hour I worked to place in
reserve. I did this in order to prepay for services that I could then give to
families that could not afford me.
The reason this is important
to me is that I have been in that family. For years we spent all of our time
and money focused on our son, learning about his disability and advocating for
his needs. We drained our savings, cashed out retirements, and ran up credit
cards getting the things we felt he needed. I know how expensive this process
can be from experience, and I wanted to be in a place to help someone else
avoid some of those costs.
Today I’m happy to announce that I can do that. I am offering the community at large 14 hours of my time! That covers my initial 10 hour bundle as well as one additional meeting! I would typically charge $700 for this service, but since my community has supported me I am now able to offer this to you.
The rules are up on my
website, NelsonAdvocacy.com, but here is
the short version. To qualify you must need advocacy services for a child with
a disability in public school under the age of 22, your family cannot earn more
than $100,000 per year, and you must be in the Fredericksburg area.
Specifically you must be in Fredericksburg City, Spotsylvania, or Stafford.
Another component of this
program that I chose to include was the ability to give back to my current clients.
In this business as in my real estate business, I believe that loyalty is a two
way street and that if you invest in people, they also invest in you. I’m not
interested in customers, I’m interested in community. To that end I have two 4
hour scholarships to give to my current and past clients. In order to apply for
this, the only rule is that you have to be a current or past client of mine and
you have to use my services within the 2019 calendar year. Email, call or text
me if you want to be considered for this and I will add you to the list. This
will be a random drawing, probably also done on Facebook live so folks can bear
witness. I have a few more hours to give away, but I’m going to save them until
There is a bit of less good
news for my clients. I find that I have to raise my meeting rate from 3 hours
to 4 hours. Unfortunately, school systems have been taking more time to meet this
past year than in my first year, and while I have not been charging retroactively
for that time I now find I need to compensate my fees for it. However, the same
rule applies as before in that the meeting fee includes our interim
communication so I don’t have to track time for every email or short phone
Finally, please like my Facebook page and sign up for my newsletter. I’m committing to quarterly newsletters this year, so I’ll have a January, April, July and October edition for your edification. Sign up on my website with the newsletter sign up button. My facebook page is facebook.com/nelsonadvocacy. And if you or someone you know needs my help, call or inbox me. I still do a free half hour consultation for folks, and I promise that you will get something helpful even if you don’t hire me. This post is public so feel free to share it. I look forward to your responses, and have a great day!