I live in North Fontana with my wife Jessica, my 6-year-old daughter Jade and my 4-year-old son Levi.
We moved here just over a year ago from Ontario and we love it! We are closer to our place of worship and our family. Plus, we love the schools.
We rent a beautiful house up near Summit Avenue. Up until recently, we were a very social family, constantly having friends and family over to enjoy our large backyard and my attempts at barbecuing.
Like most people, this pandemic has changed our day-to-day lives in many ways. Some are good; we are more conscious of our health and hygiene, and we have been able to spend a lot of time together as a family.
But some of the changes have been exceedingly difficult to deal with. Not having our friends and family over is a huge adjustment for us. And perhaps more seriously, it has created a real financial hardship.
For years I worked for various companies in sales roles, usually as an account executive. In early 2018, I was laid off from one of them and it was the motivation I needed to start working for myself. So, I embarked on that new chapter of my life, starting my own company, and working as a contractor in various capacities. It was going well all the way up to the end of February 2020. That was when everything I was working on came to a screeching halt.
Naturally, the anxiety hit almost immediately. But, almost as immediately, I was given some relief. I read an article online about the CARES Act that was working its way through the law-making process. I learned of the PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) Program that would offer unemployment assistance to those who are self-employed and out of work. Immediate stress relief!
Early in March, I got online and applied. Almost immediately I was denied. My confusion inspired research which led to the possibility that I had received an auto-denial because the system was not yet set up properly. So, a couple of weeks later when the Employment Development Department announced they were ready for applications for the PUA, I reapplied, once again hopeful. Almost immediately I was denied again.
I still have not received any kind of reason why I was denied. I filed an appeal weeks ago and have heard nothing. I attempted to call them dozens of times and could not get through. My frustration and anxiety had reached an all-time high.
Through a means too personal to really share, I received some real inspiration and I decided to start trying to look for another angle to take care of my family. I believe the only way to get through this is to pay our bills, keep the economy going and to move through it. And that is what I intend to do.
In my first year out of high school, I owned my own small mobile detailing and pressure washing business. I enjoyed it and it paid the bills. After conducting some research, I found out that our neighborhood needs this service. Not only will it help me by my bills and take care of my family, but it also helps to keep the neighborhood beautiful.
I will be offering home and concrete pressure washing to residential and commercial customers, along with window washing. It is hard work and a constant grind, but I think that is why I am excited about it.
I was really frustrated at first to not receive the help promised to me by California. But through some of that initial inspiration, I learned that people in other areas of the world are not receiving help either. Their governments offer them nothing. They have no offer of free food or unemployment. They must band together, look for new angles and make their survival happen. That is their only option. And right now, it is my only option too.
I am excited to start this new journey. I am an adept businessperson and I believe I can be successful while offering this much needed service. If I can do all of that and keep my family in their home, what else really matters?
I have set up a GoFundMe page to get just a little bit of assistance purchasing the equipment and advertising materials I need to make this dream a reality.
Stay strong, stay focused. Worry about today, not tomorrow. Put a date on the dream to make it a goal and look for new angles to get it done. Together, we can all get through this. Myself and my family thank you!
The GoFundMe page can be seen at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/qskhqf-pressure-washing-business
(Justin Slater is a Fontana resident.)