Episode 24: Grants for Autistic Family Members with Sheletta Brundidge

No joke – Sheletta Brundidge has secured $200,000 in grant funding for her Autistic children’s needs.

And today, she’s going to help you learn how to get some of that grant money regardless of your child’s disability.

Light grey background wiht dark brown text reading 'Grants for Autistic Family Members with Sheletta Brundidge, Season 3, Episode 1, MomAutismMoney.com' Image showing Mom Autism Money logo next to a woman smiling with glasses and a pink shirt.

You can use this money to fund therapy and healthcare needs, on top of everyday needs like weighted blankets, trampolines, fences, and home security systems. We’ll talk about how to find grants, how to write a successful application essay, and how to avoid scams as you conduct your search.

Sheletta will also talk to us about how she built her own media company to support and uplift her community, and why running an ethical business and living in integrity has been so critical to her success.


Show Notes

Sheletta Makes Me Laugh

Houston Chronicle Feature

United Healthcare Children’s Foundation

Variety Children’s Charity (iPads and AAC devices)

My Goal Autism Grant

Updates on ABLE accounts

Full episode transcript

Brynne: Welcome, welcome to the very first episode of Season three of Mom Autism Money. We are so happy to have you back here with us, and we’re really excited to get you a brand new season of brand new content here in 2023. Before we get started, a bit of housekeeping. We’ll talk about this a little bit more throughout the season, but the last time we spoke, we were hoping Congress would pass the Able Age Adjustment Act.

Well guess what? They did. As a part of Secure 2.0, the Able Age Adjustment Act passed in December of 2022. It pushes the age of onset of disability up to 46 instead of 26, which opens up ABLE accounts to about 6 million new Americans. Now that age change won’t actually be implemented until the year 2026, but now that it’s passed, advocates are focusing on those Medicaid clawback provisions we all hate so much.

While it’s pretty rare that you will actually experience one of these clawbacks, it is exciting that getting rid of them is the next thing up on the legislative docket. If you were one of the people that called your senator or congressperson to ask them to support the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, I hope you’ll take this news in stride and continue to participate in democracy because your participation does make a difference.

Now, on to today’s episode. We’ve talked before about Medicaid coverage and how it’s so different in every single state, but what about those things Medicaid doesn’t cover? Or what if you can’t get Medicaid coverage in your state? Period. Today we’re going to talk to Sheletta Brundidge about ways to mitigate this problem through grants.

Grants are money that organizations give you that you do not have to pay back, and if you put a little bit of elbow grease into your search and application, you can find a lot of funding for your autistic children. Sheletta Brundidge is an Emmy award-winning comedian, radio host, entrepreneur, and picture book author.

She founded a podcasting platform and production company called ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com to amplify diverse voices in media. Sheletta has been featured in People Magazine and USA Today and has appeared on Good Morning America, the Tamron Hall Show, the Ellen DeGeneres Show, the Today Show and CBS Mornings.

She’s co-authored three best selling autism children’s books, including her latest, Brandon Spots His Sign, which gained national attention after she received personal praise from President Joe Biden. She can be heard weekly on the Sheletta Show on CBS radio, or on one of the podcasts she hosts on the podcasting network she created to celebrate Black culture.

Sheletta has personally been awarded tens of thousands of dollars in grants for her autistic children, and today she’s gonna walk us through the full process so you can get access to that money too. Without further ado, let’s talk to Sheletta.

Brynne: Thank you so much for joining us today. I’m wondering if you could tell our audience about yourself and a little bit about what you do.

Sheletta: Oh, sure. My name is Sheletta Brundidge. I am, uh, the mother of four children, Andrew 16. Brandon is 10, Cameron is nine, and Daniel is seven. And so Brandon, Cameron and Daniel have all been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, and because of that I have immersed myself in the community of moms who have children with special needs.

I have been an advocate, I have been an ally, I have been a recipient, I have been a contributor. I have received information. I have provided information as we all as parents try to navigate this world of having a child on the spectrum.

Brynne: You also run this really cool podcasting network. I’m wondering if you can tell us a little bit about that, too.

Sheletta: Sure. Sheletta Makes Me Laugh is, um, a podcasting network. I’ve been in radio and television broadcasting for 21 years and I was working at CBS radio station in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, St. Paul, where I live. And I just kept trying to get primetime on air position and, you know, kept trying and trying.

And, you know, after being there for three or four years, realized that they were never going to hire me. And not because I wasn’t qualified, but because in 97 years of the radio station’s history, they had never hired a woman of color for a primetime role. And so I said, you know, I’m never gonna be qualified enough.

I’m never gonna be educated enough, I’m never gonna be good enough. But I didn’t know really, uh, where to go, what to do. You know, I have been giving all of my time and talent and connection and access to the community to my radio station and, you know, have been getting paid pennies on the dollar of what I was worth.

And I was at home watching the, no, I wasn’t. I was in LA. I was getting ready to go on the Ellen Degen Show and I was watching Tyler Perry at the BET awards and he said, instead of fighting for a seat at to table, build your own. So I created ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com, a podcasting network. And it was just supposed to be me, which is why it’s called Sheletta Makes Me Laugh. It ain’t called, we make me laugh. It’s called Sheletta Makes me Laugh. When I was creating a platform, it was just supposed to be me. It was just supposed to be my podcast, my show, one show. And then I start hearing from a bunch of Black subject experts in Minnesota who said, Sheletta. We uh, been trying to get on TV too.

We’ve been trying to get on the radio and nobody will respond to us. Can you have a podcast? Can you produce a podcast for me? Can you produce a podcast for me? And so we came out the gate, February 1st, 2020, in honor of Black History Month and my grandmother’s birthday, my late grandmother’s birthday.

Sheletta makes me laugh, came out the gate with seven shows all hosted by Black subject experts and in the state of Minnesota, which is one of the least racially diverse states in the country. On ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com, we have four Black licensed professional therapists and a PhD. You can’t find four black therapists in Houston. Okay? And we got four on a platform that only has, now we have 10 shows, but we are very purposeful and intentional about helping people in communities of color heal.

And all the shows, you know, are different. We like to say we’re a one-stop shop for cultural relevance and creativity. So I host a show about autism, um, and I host a comedy show because I’m a comedian. My children host a show where they, uh, go to different places across the country and review things that, you know, are particular and support kids with special needs.

You know, we got a travel show, we’ve got an empowerment show, we got a health and fitness show, we got a finance show, we got a diversity show. And all of these shows are hosted by very capable and talented, um, black folks. I

Brynne: I love that. I love that. And I love that whole idea of building your own table.

Joyce: Yes.

Sheletta: It’s, it ain’t easy to build a table, though.

It’s not, you know, you, if you go and sit down at somebody else’s table, you don’t realize that that wood had to be cut strategically and it had to be placed and all the legs have to be even. And there’s a lot of cutting that needs to be done. And then you gotta varnish that so that when people sit down that don’t get splinters and the chairs have to be just the right size.

And so, you know, when you working for somebody, you sit down at they table and it is already built.

Joyce: Mm-hmm.

Sheletta: And it is already there and you are taking the seat at their table that they created so it fits them. Right. So it’s the size that they want. So when you sit down at they table, your feet might be dangling because you ain’t tall enough or your knees might be dragging the ground cause you too tall.

But when you build your own table for your own people, when people sit down, they’re comfortable. You know what I’m saying? They, that the seats fit them. The seats fit them.

Joyce: Yes.

Sheletta: You know, they’re sitting down at this table and the table looks familiar. It’s African Oak, you know, it, it’s, it’s a table that is built before.

It ain’t nothing like sitting down at a table that you built. The pride that comes along with sitting at that table. You just ain’t never comfortable when you sitting at somebody else’s table. You tried to go to somebody else’s house and eat and, and you in the table and you trying to fix your chair and you trying to sit on one booty cheek.

Joyce: Yes.

Sheletta: Cause the chairs not comfortable and you don’t want your hemorrhoids to start acting up.

Joyce: Mm-hmm.

Sheletta: You know what I’m talking about?

Joyce: Mm-hmm.

Sheletta: Ok. So this table is for us. You got our chairs, our varnish, we comfortable at it, and we’re having a damn good time making this money

Brynne: Love it.

Joyce: And it’s not, and it’s not based someone else’s expectations.

Sheletta: Right! Well, we wanna move, we move when we wanna do what we do. We don’t need no permission from nobody. It’s our stuff, you know? And, and that’s the thing. I remember when John Singleton died. Um, I went to my boss at the radio station and I said, listen, John Singleton just died suddenly. I said, Black men are at risk for high blood pressure.

How you die from high blood pressure? You John Singleton. You ought to have doctors come to your house, and look at your blood pressure. And make sure you on the right medicine. You wanna have people that come in and train you to make sure you make sure your heart is healthy. You ought have somebody coming in to cook for you to make sure your diet is right. How are you John Singleton and you are dying from high blood pressure?

Well, guess what? Black men just ignore healthcare and doctor’s orders until they get really, really sick and it’s too late. So I said, Hey, I wanna do a blood pressure screening for black men on Father’s Day. I want to provide, uh, something to eat. Black nurses. Rock is gonna come and listen. Child it was like pulling teeth.

They just didn’t understand the importance of doing this. And so finally, after a month of begging, they allowed me to do it on behalf of the station. Why should it be so hard to help the community? It shouldn’t. So when we wanna do something at ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com we do it. We wanted to go to Buffalo to drop off children’s books after the Tops grocery store mass shooting.

We did that. We wanted to go down to Uvalde to donate books to the kids who survived the school shooting. We did that. We don’t have to wait for anybody. If there’s an an urgent need in the community, we can meet it without having to go through any red type. And, and that’s the most freeing part of going into business for yourself is that when you wanna help somebody, you don’t have to ask for permission.

You don’t have to say, can I cut this check? Can I go over here and organize this event? Can I make these connections? You just get out there and get it done.

Brynne: Absolutely.

Sheletta: I said, it ain’t even, you know, the first thing was grants. We started getting grants, um, after George Floyd died, a lot of, um, organizations and companies started helping small businesses in Minnesota.

And they saw that we were an authentic media voice for black folks in Minneapolis. And so we got grants and that allowed me to back pay everybody. You know, a lot of people were saying, well, you should use that money to pay going forward. Well, I was like, no, that’s not what the Lord put on my heart. The Lord put on my heart to pay these people going back.

So for the year that they worked, they got paid for that year. With that grant. And then, you know, we went from grants to sponsorships, you know, Target and General Mills and Hy-Vee and Bremer Bank and Huntington Bank. You know, all these large, major Fortune 500 companies are sponsoring little old podcast and platform.

Little old black girl from fifth ward Texas, you know, was running out her kitchen. Why? You know, because the hand of the Lord is on us and he has given us influence and he has given us power and he has given us an opportunity to share our authentic story, and people have connected with that.

Brynne: Absolutely.

I love that. I think that’s so important. Running an ethical business. Oh, and I think that’s really what gets people to stick around and stick with your vision, you know? Yeah.

Sheletta: It’s easy to, uh, it’s easy to just, you know, get dirty, you know, take dirty money.

Brynne: Right!

Sheletta: You know, we’ve had, um, companies to say, oh, well, you know, I see that your children are doing so well on the autism journey.

Um, we have this powder, uh, this supplement that we want you to sponsor. We wanna, uh, buy some ads on your podcasting platform. Or the lawyer who’s doing a class action lawsuit who says, you know, Tylenol is causing autism, can they run the commercial on my podcasting platform? Well, you know, if I say it, people are going to believe that it is me, that it is my children, that we were somehow, uh, a beneficiary or impacted by this product and by this lawsuit.

And so I have to be very careful because I don’t want God to take his glory from me. Do you see what I’m saying?

Brynne: Absolutely.

Joyce: Yes.

Sheletta: So there can be some money you turn down and then God is gonna bring it back to you. Um, but, but like you said, you, you cannot, um, you have to operate in integrity and you have to have some character.

Now, I’m not saying that, um, you have to be spotless and blameless cause none of us are, you know what I’m saying?

Joyce: Mm-hmm.

Sheletta: Uh, it’s been some ones that I carry that shouldn’t have got carried, you know what I’m saying? But you know, I, I’m, I’m gonna pay my people. We’re going, we’re gonna have contracts, we’re gonna be honest and, and, and upright and upfront with one another.

Um, we’re gonna operate in brotherly love and, and you know, we wanna make God proud, number one, because what’s, you know, if you are, if you are going into the world as a light, you can’t be doing the dirt and darkness. Cause he’s going to expose that. You know, I can’t be over here beating my kids and then do a show.

Um, you know, where I’m, I’m, I’m laughing and doing comedy, and I’m telling people to love one another and, and be righteous. Um, I can’t be over here cussing out my husband if I’m telling people to, to love theirs. You know what I’m saying? So what you see is what you have to get. Otherwise, you, you’re not gonna be in business for long.

God not gonna continue to sustain and bless you.

Joyce: I think you have to be true to the audience, too, and be honest.

Sheletta: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Cause the thing too is, is that, you know, people are looking at you and, and they listening and they watching for inconsistencies. You know, and so that’s why I say, look, I’ll drink bourbon and bless the Lord.

You know, I will, uh, have a, have a cocktail and, and, and praise Christ. Uh, cause we are all flawed creatures. Jesus first miracle is turning water in the wine. So he was drinking a little wine himself, uh, him and his mama. But I, you know, we are all human, but, but people are really looking. And you don’t want to have any cracks in your armor.

Not that you should go out here and present yourself as something that you are not, but your life, um, should reflect the life, um, that you purport to live. And, and I want my life to look like Christ. You know, I, I wanna look as much like Jesus as I can because, you know, my, one of my favorite scripture says that if he be lifted up, he’ll draw all men unto you.

And I ain’t trying to preach, but you know, when I lift him up, um, I, I’ve seen stuff come my way that I have no business getting. You know, no business getting. No, there’s no way I shoulda won a $98,000 class A RV off Twitter. There’s no way that should have happened.

Joyce: Whoa.

Sheletta: There’s no way. I did nothing. I did not enter a contest. I did not put my name and a hat.

I didn’t beg for it. Marcus Lamonis, the CEO of Camping World, got on Twitter and said, I’m gonna give a popup camper to somebody. Who should I give it to? And everybody on Twitter said, you need to give it to Sheletta because she’s doing so much in the autism community, she and her family that this would benefit them.

She’s got three special needs kids. They can’t get on the plane and she can’t get to her family in Houston. Marcus Lamonis called my house. Said, not only am I gonna give you this $98,000 class A RV free of charge. I’m going to insure it and I’m going to make you a celebrity endorser for Camping World.

Joyce: (gasp) Wow!

Sheletta: I didn’t do anything. I did nothing. But you know, God.

Brynne: You live in integrity.

Sheletta: Right? You know, God can’t bless me if I have no character. God can’t bless me if I don’t have no integrity and he can’t bless me if I ain’t blessing somebody else. You know, one of my favorite Bible verses says, A generous person will prosper and those who refresh others will be refreshed.

And so when I pass out free books, you know, at Uvalde or Buffalo or Houston or wherever, when I, you know, help a, a mama crying at two in the morning because her child can’t talk and she’s trying to figure out what to do, or if I do some free workshops at a church about how to find grants and scholarships for your special needs children, then you know God is going to have to, in the spirit of reciprocity, bring that back to me.

Girl we are riding real good in that RV baby. I mean, she said there, my daughter told one of her little cousins, she was like, oh yeah, they’re giving away RVs on Twitter. Tell your mama to go on Twitter, so she can get an RV. She’s 8 years old. So my cousin’s daughter is crying cause she won’t go on Twitter to get a RV. What if you tell Cameron to stop causing here unless she got the cheat code?

Cause they ain’t giving away all these RVs. See, my kids think that and they don’t understand the, the magnitude of the blessings and the favor and the anointing on our family. And so they think everybody like that. Like my, my like, so we got these three children’s books, right? And so, uh, Daniel, my book, my son’s book, Daniel finds his voice all about him learning how to talk through music.

So he was nonverbal four and a half years old. His autism evaluation in that year said he had no functional language, right? And so he, uh, learned how to talk by singing Old Town Road. Well Lil Nas X, the singer, the rapper.

Joyce: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Sheletta: You know, reached out to our family. He was so excited and he couldn’t wait to meet Daniel.

And so my kids going to school like, oh yeah, we talked Lil Nas X yesterday. Did y’all talk to Lil Nas X? We got the phone number y’all can just call him. No, they can’t call him! Y’all gotta stop that cause everybody’s not calling Lil Nas X. It’s not how this works. .

Joyce: Oh, I love it. I love it. I, I am, I dunno if you know, like, but I have four children, 24 all the way to six, and they’re all in the spectrum.

Sheletta: Mmm.

Joyce: My youngest one is non-verbal, but if I sing a melody, he follows it.

Sheletta: Thank you. There you go. There you go. That’s how it was. That’s, that’s the thing with Daniel. Everything he learned, he learned through music. And so now he’s seven and this boy is multiplying and dividing and he is spelling and writing sentences. He can read on like a fourth or fifth grade level, four and a half years old, nonverbal.

But if you teach it to him through music, it’s a wrap.

Joyce: We have to, we have to find a way.

Sheletta: You gotta find a way. It’s up to us. You know, uh, you know, train a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it. It’s up to us as parents to pray and find out what works for our child.

Cause something works. You know, that’s a miracle. There’s a miracle in all of it. Not just for our families, but to inspire other people.

Joyce:  Can I ask you a question? Cause I, you’re the, I think you’re the only person I know that has multiple children in the spectrums like myself.

So how did you feel when you found out? Like the first one and the second one, and then the third one? How did you feel?

Sheletta: Oh, girl, I was mad at God. I said, God, why are you punishing me? Because I got, I’m a married woman. I went to college. I’m living my life right. I tired. Why are you punishing me? I got four babies and I got a husband.

They all have the same daddy. I got one cousin. She got one baby and that baby got three baby daddies. How is her baby okay, and mine is mine are not. And, and so I like got literally seriously depressed. I stopped eating and I was drinking a lot and I said, I don’t drink now, but I was drinking a lot and I wasn’t, um, I wasn’t eating and you can’t tell by looking at my fat butt now.

But I was down to 98 pounds. My chest sunk in. Don’t let them Kardashians fool you. Cause you know when them Kardashians weight they boobs stay big. That’s a lie. That’s the first thing to go.

Joyce:  It’s true.

Sheletta: They sunk into my chest and so I was like, oh my God. You know, what am I, Lord? I’m just gonna die.

You know? It’s respectable. You know, nobody will know. I just stop eating and then I just die. You know? Cause my body not getting nourishment. It’s at some, some point my, you know, my organs gonna start eating off each other and I’ll die. And I was under the table. The Lord told me, I’m not punishing you. I’m giving you a position.

That position is mother. Now get up and mother these children and when you are done, you gonna help somebody else. And so I literally got up, I put the bottle in the cabinet cause I know I was gonna drink again and I wiped my face off and I found a good ABA therapist.God bless me with the good speech, PT and OT Center.

And we moved, uh, from Texas to Minnesota so we could get better services at school free of charge. And so I started seeing progress with my kids because, you know, everybody’s in a, in a different spot. You know, I, I went to a workshop over the weekend and, you know, some of the ladies, you know, were happy that their, you know, where their children were.

They said, this is the way God made ’em. So no judgment for what I wanted for my children. I wanted them healed. I told the Lord, I don’t want them to seem like they got helped. I want them to be completely and totally healed. And so that’s what I wanted. That’s what I expected. That’s what I have faith for.

And so now Brandon and Cameron 10 and nine, uh, are no longer on the spectrum. They were very severely autistic. Did not talk social anxiety. All the markings of kids with autism, throwing themselves on the ground, uh, hand ringing, spinning around, lining things up, not eating no eye contact, unable to play with toys properly.

They’re in the classroom right now at fifth and fourth grade without any supports, and they are testing at or above their grade level. And my son, Daniel, who was most severely autistic at seven years old, he’s not far behind. And, and that’s what I wanted. I wanted my kids healed. And everybody wants something different.

Some parents say, well, this is the way God made them, so I’m gonna accept them right where they are. And I do not judge that. You know, that is how you feel. That is how you want live your life. This is what you want for your children. You are their parent. But for me and mine, I don’t wanna be wiping they butts when they 18 I’m at, when they turn 18, I’m gonna need them to wipe my butts.

So I’m gonna need to get y’all right so that I have somebody wipe my booty.

Joyce:  So when it came to like, so you say you moved from Texas. Was it because they didn’t have the same, you said they didn’t have the same…

Sheletta: Yeah. So in Texas, the waiting list, it’s 10 years. You know, for count, for county services, the waiting list is 10 years.

And in Minnesota it was 10 months. You know, they told me, my son Brandon was four years old and I said, you know, what services do you have for him? And they said, the best we can do is put him in a group home when he turns 14, he was four. I said, wait, I thought early intervention is the key. And they said, oh well we uh, we got a 10 year wait list.

I said, well, we got to go. And so whenever go back to Texas to visit my family, they always say, oh, these kids are doing so good. Not really. Oh, not really doing that good. Oh, I, I, I mean they say, they always say, Sheletta, you a great mother. And I said, no, I’m not really a great mother. I just got better services. You know, cause they wouldn’t see him for six months.

And then we come down there and they be looking at you and talking.

They be like oooo, look Sheletta is not working with them kids. Sheletta ain’t working with them kids. Sheletta’s got them kids hooked up with some good services and she know what time to drop ’em off. That’s what Sheletta is doing. But if you’re down there and you’re on the waiting list for 10 years, you know, for folks in Texas it look like I done just performed some miracles or something.

Brynne: Yeah. I remember one of the first real eye-openers for me. We have pretty decent Medicaid coverage here in Pennsylvania and we also have, at least in the.cities We have like access to services as well. And one of the first real eye-openers for me was seeing a news story about a woman in Texas who was paying for all of these services out of pocket going broke.

And I was like, why doesn’t she just get on Medicaid? And then I looked into it little, I was like, oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. It’s crazy. This is crazy.

Sheletta: And, and in fact, um, the Houston Chronicle just sent a reporter and a photographer here. If you guys look the story up on, on, do, just do a Google search and type in my name, Sheletta Brundidge and Houston Chronicle.

The Houston Chronicle just came here and did a front page five page story on a Monday about my family and how we had to leave Texas to come up here to get services and the progress that my children have made and how we once had a house that was silent because the kids couldn’t talk. And a house that is filled with talking and love and laugh and how my kids are sassin’ me and talking back and being disobedient because, you know, we left and we came up here and, you know, it spawned some op-eds, Beto O’Rourke used it, you know, as a, a tool, you know, on Twitter that day to talk about, you know, how, how Texas needs to change and get better and they do.

Um, and, and listen, it was not easy because I don’t have no family here. Right. You know, I got, I got people I know. I may have one friend here, maybe two friends. When I say friends, I mean friends. You know, some people think folks on Facebook is your friends. I’m talking about somebody who will not bail me outta jail, but go to jail with me.

I say a friend’s, not somebody who will bail you outta jail. A friend is somebody who will go to jail with you. I’m talking about, you know, so, so even like when my kids go to school and they say, put who, who’s the emergency contact, I have none. So I left my mama, my daddy at the time, two grandmothers, about 10 aunties, 20 plus cousins, all my best friends and everything I know and love in Houston to move to Minnesota.

Joyce:  Why Minnesota? Can I ask?

Sheletta: Yeah. Cause the whitelist is shorter. The services were better. And my husband at the time, and I, we had lived here when we were single and we got married here. We had one child here and then we left and moved to Texas, you know, and, and, and that’s the thing. We could pay for one of the kids to go to an autism school.

We couldn’t pay for all three of them, you know, cause we blue collar people, you know, I got a couple of, you know, degrees and, you know, my, you know, ex-husband, he got a, graduated from medical school. So we put the oldest child in private school. He’s the real brainiac. And, and we went to an autism school for Brandon, you know, but then when Cameron and Daniel both got autism and we thought we can’t wait 10 years for these kids to get no help.

And we can’t afford to pay for specialist education school for all of them. So we’ve gotta get up. We bring somebody here, we have to come up outta here cause we gonna be you either, if you want your kids here. And you got special needs and you in a state that’s not providing you with the services and resources that you need, you either got to be rich or you gotta move.

You got two options. You can’t, you can’t do, you can’t, you cannot get your kids healed and stay in the state that does not provide you with the services you need. It, it, it’s, it’s not gonna happen.

Joyce:  That’s why I, I live in the state I live. That’s, that’s the reason. Like there’s no way I will find the services and the, and the helps that I got from my family if I moved outta here.

Sheletta: No. And I hate being away from my family. Don’t get me wrong. I hate that. I wish I could be close to my mama. I miss Thanksgiving and Christmas without logistically leaving and, you know, being gone. And I hate these winners. You know, nobody likes it when it’s minus 20 degrees. I don’t give a damn what they say ain’t nobody like that.

That’s not hot. But you can’t beat the, the, the healthcare, you can’t beat the services. Even something as simple as what the insurance would cover, you know? When, when Sean came ahead of me, cause he came ahead of me, we trailed him, um, so that he could get the house so that he could get set up so that he could scout the school so that he could, you know, provide some infrastructure.

So, you know, it’s impossible for all of us to come at one time and have a good landing because you can’t unpack with four kids, you know what I mean? So he came up here and painted and put the blinds up and unpacked and, you know, bought soap and toilet paper and put the, the bed spreads and blankets on the, on the bed, all that stuff so that when we got here, all we had to do was come get in the bed.

You see what I’m saying? Well, we had to do it that way, so we were still in Texas. Right. But he was here and he had Minnesota insurance. And so when I went into Texas to get ABA therapy, they were like, oh, it’s covered by your insurance. Well, Texas doesn’t cover ABA therapy. You know, something as simple as that.

At the, at the time, they didn’t cover it, I don’t what they doing now, but at that time they were not covering ABA therapy and the therapy center was like, wow, this has never happened. Yeah. You don’t have to go get a scholarship or raise money or put a deposit down. Cause apparently the insurance that your husband has, it covers ABA therapy.

You know? Even the advocacy work that goes into helping children with special needs. It is, is very different here.

Brynne: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. I do kind of have some questions about, we, we talked a little bit earlier about grants for business. There’s also a lot of families may or may not know this, and I feel like it’s especially important in states like maybe like Texas, where you don’t necessarily have access to all of those healthcare needs, but there are actually grants for families with autistic kids, and I know you have a lot of experience with those.

I’m wondering if you can tell us a little bit about how you found ‘ em, how you used them. What, what was that experience like?

Sheletta: So this is, this is the thing that I need everybody, y’all take notes. I’m gonna, I’m, I’m gonna talk slow cause I need y’all, anybody listening, take y’all a pencil and piece of paper out because this is the bread and butter.

This is the meat and potatoes. There are scholarships out there. There are grants for families like yours and mine who have kids with special needs, but they can’t afford the copay. I have raised probably $200,000 in the life of my children. For, um, from, from foundations, uh, from organizations and from people who have grants and scholarships, paying for everything from a trampoline in my backyard to a fence to keep my kids safe, to combination locks, to padding to put on the floors to desks, to dry erase boards, to iPads.

I’m not talking about wheelchairs, I’m talking about iPads, snuggle blankets, weighted blankets, weighted all this stuff. There are grants and scholarships out there to pay for, uh, alternative therapy, um, alternative medications and prescriptions, any of that stuff. It’s available. And so what happened was, and, and what happens to a lot of us is that we see that our kids need help, right?

We see that they’re showing signs that they have autism, we say, Lemme go get you some speech therapy. Well, guess what? The insurance won’t pay for the speech therapy until you have the autism diagnosis. Well, guess what else? You are on a 10 month waiting list or a year and a half waiting list to get the diagnosis.

So what do you do? They keep saying early intervention is the key. Early detection is the key, right? But you on this wait list, and your insurance will not cover that speech therapy. Your insurance will not cover that ABA therapy. Your insurance will not cover that occupational therapy or physical therapy.

Your insurance is not gonna pay for you to get a fence because your child is wandering. So what do you do while you are waiting on the diagnosis? You get a grant, you get a scholarship from a foundation, an individual or a corporation that has money and funding, and this opportunity is set up for you. So here’s what you do.

And it’s is, you know, it’s not just falling out the sky, you gotta go get it. And, and that’s what happens. You know, people say, oh my God. Cause at the time when I, when I first started helping people find this money, I think in one year I got $80,000. And I’m talking about this is, this is, you know, some of the foundations, they say, well, we’re just gonna send it to the therapy center.

That’s fine. I don’t care. Well, we’re just gonna, you want that play system that that $5,000 rainbow play system for your kids? We just gonna send it to the Rainbow Play system. I don’t care. Oh, you want that fence? That $6,500 fence? We just gonna send it to the fence company. I don’t care. As long as it gets paid.

You want that iPad? Okay, well we gonna buy, send us a link. We gonna buy each one of your kids an iPad. We’re gonna buy two laptops. Send us a link and we’re gonna pay for it. That’s fine with me. And then some places will send me cash. We’re gonna send you a check and will you send us back receipts showing that you bought the lockers and the wall dividers that you bought, the books that you said you needed, that you bought the bed that you said you needed, that you actually put the front fence in, that you actually bought the combination lock.

Send us that. Do you see what I’m saying? So, so every grant, every organization is different, but again, this money’s not falling outta the sky. You gotta go get it. So what you do, and this is not just for moms who have kids with autism, moms and dads who have kids with any kinda special needs. Google is your new best friend.

Number one, you go on Google and you type in grants for kids with autism, cerebral palsy grants, uh, spina bifida grants, uh, deaf child, blind child grants, scholarships, and all these different things are gonna come up. And you gonna look at ’em and see which one you qualify for. So for instance, um, there’s a, a one I, I’ll just, you know, kind of one, for example, it’s called the Gia Nicole Foundation grant.

They got $500 grants for kids who need help with speech therapy, right? And it’s just like filling out a application for a job. They’re asking you for your name, your kid’s name, you know, they ask you for a diagnosis. If you don’t have a diagnosis, they ask you when you going have an appointment to get the diagnosis.

Um, you know, they, they may want a letter of recommendation from a teacher. You know, it’s just like filling out a job application except it’s a scholarship for your child. It’s a grant for your child. And then you tell ’em what you need the money for. I need the money for a trampoline for my child because he’s going bananas.

It’s the summertime. And I didn’t realize that he needed somewhere to jump, somewhere to play. And I don’t have it in my house. So I need a trampoline. A trampoline cost $1,200. I got six. Can y’all give me the rest? Can you provide me with the rest? And then have your receipts, have your information from the company when you’re trying to buy the trampoline?

This, this coming from Wayfair Circle the amount, here’s what it costs. It costs $1,200, which the shipping is 13. I only got $500. Can you please provide the rest? You can either make the check out the Wayfair or you can make it out to me. It doesn’t matter. Hey, uh, you know, there’s another, you know, uh, speech therapy grant.

They, they send the money directly to the speech therapy center. Go to the speech therapy center. Hey, look, I’m waiting on my kid to get a diagnosis. They said, I’m on a wait list for a year, but if I get a grant, will y’all take the money directly from the organization? They will say yes, because they don’t turn down money.

Okay. And then you have them write a letter and then you fill out that application again. It’s just like a job application. Hey, uh, my name is so-and-so. My child is so-and-so. He’s such and such years old. He’s not gonna be able to get a autism diagnosis until he’s four years old, but I believe he is on the spectrum.

I need speech therapy, but the insurance won’t pay for it until he has a diagnosis. That’s just the way it works. Speech therapy is $80 a session. He needs two sessions a week. That’s x amount of dollars per month. I would like to ask you to please give me this X amount of money so that he could get speech therapy for six months.

This is how much I need. Here’s a letter from the speech therapist. Here’s a picture of my child. Here’s a note from his teacher, and here, here’s the information. I’m, I’m, he’s going for his autism test on December the fifth in 2023. It’s September, 2022. I don’t wanna wait that long. Can you please help me? And these foundations, these organizations, these 501c3s, these corporations, these very generous people are looking for folks to give money to.

In fact, a lot of times I was the only one applying for money. Not cause I was the only one who needed it, but I was the only one who knew. And at the end of the year, these organizations are coming back, to me. Do you know anybody who needs this money? Because they set aside $25,000 for us to give away and we can’t keep giving it to you every year, who needs this money?

Cause otherwise we cannot, in good conscious go back to the corporation and say, give us another $25,000 to give away next year. Cause nobody’s applying. I said, it’s not that people don’t, don’t need it. They don’t know. And so I started doing free workshops at churches and community centers and, and in and in connection with people like Easter Seals and, and different autism foundations, and putting on these free workshops, not only to let people know about the grants, but during the workshops, I would actually have the application there and we would go through the application together line by line, because there’s always an essay and for some people that’s the most difficult and most intimidating part.

But once I just, so we broke it down and, and we worked together to try to figure out how to fill it out. At the end of the workshop, they had a actual application filled out, and all they had to do was go to the post office.

Brynne: That’s amazing. That is so amazing. I have like a really selfish question about the trampoline.

When you’re looking for grants for, for stuff like that. Obviously the ones with the therapy I feel like would be easy enough to figure out, but for trampolines, are they issuing grants as durable medical equipment or like how? How are they classified?

Sheletta: No. That’s up to them. They say, some of them say whatever you need.

Some of them are just specific to speech. Oh wow. Some of them are just specific to ABA. So what you should do is find one that works for you. So when I needed ABA therapy for my kids and I was in Houston and I didn’t have no money and my husband had not found a job in Minnesota yet when ABA was covered and we had an autism diagnosis yet, guess what?

I Google ABA therapy grant for children with autism, ABA therapy grant scholarship, autistic kids, and all these foundations came up. I applied and one of them gave me $1,500. It seemed like so much money at the time. Right now it seems like peanuts. But at the time, my son Brandon, his speech therapy bill every month was $800.

And that seemed like a lot of money to me at the time. And I was like, oh my God, how am I going to pay this $800 every month? Well, guess what? The Lord blessed me every month with some money from somebody, a scholarship, a grant, um, that covered that speech therapy until he got his diagnosis and it was covered by the insurance.

I never came outta pocket, ever for his services. And, and, and that went on for a year. What, every month I would apply for a grant and I get it. Well, I apply for a scholarship and I get it, and it’s not, and, and, and people think I’m, I’m not special. The money is out there. We just have to apply for it to get it.

And, and I can’t tell you, oh, well you should go here, here, here, and here, because everybody’s situation is different. I can’t send you to a ABA therapy grant if you looking for a fence or a trampoline. You know, my neighbor came up in here and he, um, the guy who lives behind me, he came up in here and he, he moved in.

Him and his family, he got two kids in, in Minnesota. They don’t believe in fences. They like to share yards. I’m from Texas. We got fences up everywhere. It’s my stuff. That’s your stuff. Stay outta my stuff. Right? So he came in and he moved in and the first thing he did was tore down the fence. And I was telling my husband at the said, why didn’t you tell that man?

We got these kids over here with autism and he can’t tear that fence down cause we need that fence to keep our kids safe. I can’t play outside with my kids now. I never be running all over the street trying to keep my kids from getting hit by a car. So was really, it was too. Cause the man had already done it and it was nothing that we could do.

You know what I’m saying? He had already tore the fence down and so I said ok. Alright, that’s good you talking about I’ll put a new one up in the Spring. Baby, lemme tell you something. I got me, I got on Google, I found me a grant. Them people paid $5,000 to the Man with the Fence company. The man with the fence company agreed to take that $5,000.

He sent them their receipt and I had a fence up in here probably about four days later.

Brynne: That’s amazing.

Sheletta: They just paid him his little funky $5,000. So it, it just depends on what you want, like the, the trampoline and stuff. I got that. And, and, and, you know, some, some grants will be specific to who you are, um, my husband is a, a disabled veteran, so I went to a veteran’s organization, I think it’s the Blue Ribbon Foundation or something, and they’re the ones who paid for the fence.

You know, the Lions Club, you know, sometimes it’s just a community event. It’s a community organization. Got nothing to do with kids who got autism, got nothing to do, and, and they ones who came and paid for, you know, the, the back fence. You know, it, it just, you gotta be creative and do what you gotta do for your kids, and it’s not, it’s like I said, You know, people were coming to these workshops and they thought this money was falling from the sky.

And when I told them that they had to work for it, it’s like a job application and you gotta be interviewed sometimes for this money more than one time. But if you got $5,000, you know, to cover speech therapy, trampoline, or weighted blankets or iPads and you don’t it then you can tune it out.

But if you need that $5,000, if you need that $10,000, if you need that $800 for your baby, then you gotta do what you gotta do. But I have a, a little list that I used to keep, I started doing these workshops in 2015, and so one of the places, uh, and, and a lot of these are, you know, just kind of national United Healthcare Children’s Foundation, uh, Variety Children’s Charity, My Goal  enrichment grant.

Masonic Home and School, the Lindsay Foundation, Helping Hands Program Blooming with Autism, Act today. Those are just some of the places they have grant and scholarships and you know, it, like I said, it’s, it’s going be on you and it’s, it’s not gonna be easy you, but the more you do, the easier it’ll get.

And you know, I say, oh, well I got $80,000 for my kids. Well that wasn’t $80,00 at once. That was $800 here, $1,200 there, $1,500 here, $5,000 there, and $7,000 and $700 there and $250 and sometimes $75. But I was putting all them nickels together to make it equals something. And you know, I had to do it while the kids were asleep. You can’t apply for grants and scholarships and you got special needs kids during the day.

I would literally.

Brynne: It’s so true.

Sheletta: That’s why I do these workshops so that parents won’t have to figure out the hard way. What I learned easily, what I learned, the hard way, it’ll be easy for them, is I would put the kids to bed at seven and I would go to sleep at eight, and then I would wake up about one or two in the morning, and until about four or five in the morning, I would look for grants and scholarships or apply for grants and scholarships.

You know, like I think Monday would be my looking day and Tuesday would be my organizing day, and Wednesday would be my application day. Thursday I’d get everything ready for the mail, and Friday I’d take the stuff to the post office and take the weekend off and start all over. But that stuff had to be done overnight.

Because I had little babies, nobody was in school. And you can’t do that stuff with them Kids around they’ll come and tab your stuff and write on it and girl, then you better had a heart attack. Cause you done working all day on something. They come press button and delete on the computer. So, so it had to be done.

It had to be done in the middle of the night, you know, for me, and so that’s why I share this because I, I don’t want other parents to have to go through what I went through.

Brynne: Yeah. A hundred percent.

Joyce:  Isn’t that how we work, Brynne? I work early in the morning.

Brynne: All of my emails are scheduled for 8:00 AM

Sheletta: Girl. Yes.

Joyce:  Four, four o’clock. I, it’s, if I don’t get up, they’re no work that’s gonna get done, period.  Summer, there’s no work. Summer. It’s like, I, I get, when I get there, when I have time, cause I have it all home. I mean, they do go to summer school, but it’s only for a couple hours.

Sheletta: Yeah. And by the time you drop ’em off, hell, it’s time pick them up. My kids took me the other, my mom. What you do all day? Hell, I just dropped you off. I been in the parking lot.

Joyce:  I was just dropping you off. Then I had to turn around and get back in the line. That’s how I feel in the summer. I’m like, I dropped you off and I’m turning back around to the getting in the line to pick you up again.

Sheletta: Yes!

Joyce:  That’s, that’s what I did.

Brynne: That’s my life.

I have a question about, um, you mentioned that people are intimidated by those essays. Do you have any tips for tackling them or like in your workshops, how’d you help people through them?

Sheletta: Just write it. Yeah, just write it as if you were talking to a friend. You know, just talk in your true, authentic voice. Everything ain’t gotta be spelled checked, the sentences don’t have to be grammatically correct. Speak from your heart, tell ’em exactly what you need, and don’t try to talk like you think somebody might wanna hear it, talk in a way that you would talk to your friend.

Hey, listen, my name is Sheletta Brundidge and I’m writing you because I have three kids with special needs. My husband and I are hardworking, blue collar people. But by the time we pay all these copays, we don’t really have money for any extra stuff. Our kids need a fence. They are wanderers. And if you don’t help us, something’s gonna happen.

And I don’t want you to have to see our family on the news. So listen, you got this scholarship. I would like to use it to buy a fence. The price that they’re quoting us is $4,600. I’m attaching, uh, or, or a bid for the fence. Can you please, you know, consider paying this? You can pay it directly to the vendor or you can give the money to us and we’ll be more than happy to send you a picture of the fence once it’s in and done so that you’ll know it’s been taken care of.

Thank you so much.

Brynne: That’s awesome. That’s awesome because I feel like you might feel a little bit of pressure to like, take that register up real high.

Joyce:  That would be me, but that would be me. Yeah. I’m like, English is not my first language. I’m gonna sound horrible. My grammar’s gonna be horrible.

Sheletta: It don’t matter.

It don’t matter. They, they, they just really want to hear from you. They really want to find out what’s going on. Um, and it is so important, especially in these grants and scholarship, that you put a picture of your child in that so they’ll know who they’re helping.

It’s hard to say no, you know, if you just send, um, the essay in the paperwork, even if they don’t ask for a picture, it’s hard to, it’s easy to turn down paperwork. It’s hard to turn down a child.

Joyce:  Yeah, that’s true. So when you, when you apply for a grant, how long before you know?

Sheletta:  Everybody’s different. It’s like a job.

It’s like you just apply for 15 jobs. Every place is gonna be different. Some places, you know, you’ll know in a week, some places, you know, they meet, the board meets monthly. Some places will turn around and tell you your story meant so much to them. They’ll send you the money the next day. In fact, I had some people bring a check to my house.

Brynne: Oh, wow.

Sheletta:  Yeah. It just depends on the organization, where they’re located, how many applications they get. And again, they have to give this money away, and a lot of times they have to turn around and turn the money back into the board and tell them, oh, well, nobody applied. Well then what does that say to the board that says to the board, there’s not a need.

Well, there is a need. There’s a, there’s an information gap. There’s a access gap. There’s not, there’s not a need gap. There’s a access to information gap. You can’t access something you don’t know anything about.

Joyce:  So you got me to think about the fence. The fence. I’m like, I need a fence. I live in a corner lot and my child, is a runner.

Sheletta:  Oh yes. See, I gotta wanderer, girl. Yeah. I like tell people he young and fast. I’m old and slow and so we have snow here. And so, um, it’s a couple of times if it weren’t for him hitting that snow bank girl, he would’ve been gone. I always tell people we are one blink away from a Amber Alert. And I remember one time we was in the house, it was wintertime, it was like minus five degrees outside.

And we were in here and this is before he started talking and we were getting ready to go somewhere or do something or eat or something and we couldn’t find him. And so, you know, you can’t call him, you know, because if he’s playing hide and seeking his own mind, but forgot to tell us we was all playing hide and go seek.

If you call him, uh, he’s just gonna stay still and hide. So we were quietly walk around the house looking for him, Hey, we’d be there for like 30 minutes. And that’s when I realized somehow he’s gotten out of this house. And, and, and in my, I’m, I’m heading over to call the police to call nine one one. And in my mind, I’m trying to remember what was the last thing he had on, because my baby was gone.

We, we searched every inch of this house and we could not find him. And as I’m walking to the phone, I look outside and he’s jumping on the trampoline in pajamas. No socks. No shoes, undershirt, no coat, coat. It’s minus five and it’s supposed to snow. So he gets back in the house, his toes are blue, his fingers are blue.

His eyelashes got snow on him, but he’s just as happy as he can be, you know? You know, but, but what if we had not had a fence? Where would he be? Somewhere froze on the side of the road. And so that’s why it’s so crucial that we get out there and get this funding that’s available so we can have a better quality of life for our kids, but also peace of mind for us.

So now my kids can go outside and play while I’m cooking or while I’m doing laundry. And I can sit down and look at the window. At the window at them and know they not going nowhere. I didn’t have to pay for this. You know, all told $10,000 fence because I paid, I, I got the Lions Club paid for the three, three part fence, and then my neighbor came in on the back and then he tore that fence down, which was not our fence.

And so then I had to find somebody to cover that backend, which was another $5,000, you know? And I didn’t pay for any of that. None of that came outta my pocket.

Brynne: That’s incredible. And it is a quality of life thing.

Joyce:  My house, if you knock on my door, there’s, you’re gonna hear the beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.

And then I open the door because we have a alarm , because they, they’re smart. There’s, it’s not like

Sheletta:  They’re smart and they getting bigger.

Joyce:  Yeah. And so I have to outsmart them, like, and then it goes higher. So when he was a toddler, now he’s seven, so it’s higher. And that’s gonna go higher. And then it has to be a code in it because it’s gonna figure it out how to open the other one.

Sheletta:  And, and those things are expensive. You know, cause we have combination locks on all our exterior doors and those things, you know, run between a hundred and $300 a piece. And, and so, you know, you think about you got the garage door, you got the laundry room door, the garage door, you got the front door, you got the door down to the basement where they can go down to the basement and get out through the sliding glass.

So you, you gotta think about the office where there’s a bay window where they can walk out. You gotta, the windows gotta put those, you’re right. You gotta put those combination locks. And then, you know, the security system if, if you wanna buy security that, you know, you know, folks are funding that as well.

I know Comcast has, you know, uh, a security system and you know, they, they got chirps on doors and cabinets and all that good stuff. And you can find somebody to pay for that.

Joyce:  And also trackers like, they gave me an, because we, he has a little tracker. Yeah. You can pay for trackers. Yeah. But those are expensive for $32.

If you pay a year, it’ll be $32 a month. Who, who can afford that?

Sheletta:  Nobody. That’s a game changer. That’s a tank of gas for somebody. So, so, you know, it, it’s just about making sure that we access this, like I said, it’s not going to fall out of the sky. You know, people think, oh, well there’s $80,000 somewhere, let me go get it.

You know, it’s a little bit here and a little bit there, but it, it’s all about even knowing that it’s there. I don’t think a lot of people know that it.

Brynne: No, no, not at all. And that incremental thing is so huge. I feel like that’s such a huge concept in personal finance, whether we’re paying off debt or investing for our future, or getting grants.

Like you’re not gonna get the 80 grand all in one lump sum. Like it’s all about incrementally applying or saving or paying off that credit card or whatever. Doing it in those little chunks and just doing it consistently. And that’s how you get to those really big goals and really big numbers.

Sheletta: And then you can look back and, and, and shout and say Hallelujah when you look outside and see a trampoline and a fence and, um, an RV and a rainbow play system that you didn’t pay for.

Joyce:  You know, the RV,I heard about the RV and I’m like, oh, man, that’s, that’s our dream because we, we can’t travel by plane yet. Not yet, no, not yet. Not yet.

Sheletta: You know what, I don’t even wanna travel by plane. I don’t wanna get to the airport two hours early and then sit there and have my flight canceled and have to come back the next morning.

And then, you know, all all that stuff. And then when we get there, we still gotta get a rental in a hotel. And hell, you stressed out. And by the time you get there, it’s time to leave. We can take our time, we can get in that RV. The kids got, they bunk beds. I ain’t bragging. I’m blessing the Lord.

Joyce:  Mm-hmm. that for us would be like an RV would be perfect for us because we’ll be on the road. Our time because you know, we are always late.

Sheletta: Yeah. You can come and go. You can and, and it’s the thing. You can come and go as you please. You don’t have to worry about, uh, you know, I gotta be here. Did the plane take off at two?

What are we going take, what are we gonna do when we get there? Girl, we taking our bikes, our bubbles, our sidewalk chalk, our hula hoops, our connect four, all our books and games and crayons and colors and, you know, our iPads and girl, we, we ain’t gotta leave nothing behind. You know, and, and for us, we like to keep the RV packed, you know, so that all we gotta do is jump on.

The only thing we have to put on there is food. So we keep a change of clothes, we keep, you know, three outfits for each child in there and, you know, our laundry basket and our towels and, you know, all that good stuff so that we don’t have to, every time we get in there, start over. So we keep, you know, clothes and, and towels and, you know, uh, uh, wipes and, and everything in, and soap and everything in there so that we don’t have to worry about, you know, all the other stuff.

Brynne: You’re googling these organizations, right? And are there any red flags you look out for? Like are, how do you know if this is a trustworthy organization? You should be handing over you personal information to?

Sheletta: You do your research. You make sure at the bottom of the website, the current year is there. So if you looking at an organization’s website and you scroll down to the bottom and it says 2019, if you go on there and they say, past recipients, and the last person who got a grant was in 2018 and it’s 2022.

If you, if you go on there and a link is broken, then that’s not the spot for you. And, and you can also do your due diligence. You know, that’s what the Better Business Bureau is there for. Cause the last thing you wanna do, and, and I’ve done it and, and this is one thing that I talk to the, the, the moms and dads about who come to these events, listen.

I have filled out a 20 page grant application and turned it in only for the people to tell me we ain’t got no money. We don’t exist anymore. Oh, we, we, we, everything is on hold until, until next year. Well, guess what? It’s cause I did not pick up the phone. People are not gonna just give you money online.

So if you just operate online, you probably are gonna get scammed. They should have a phone number. You need to pick up the phone and call them. Hey, I’m looking at your website. Uh, are you still giving away these grants? Oh no ma’am. We don’t, we don’t do that anymore. Okay. Thank you. Hey, I’m looking at your website.

It says that the deadline is coming up. Uh, is this still, uh, uh, are you still doing this? You know, uh, hey, I’m looking at your website. Are you guys still, uh, operating? You know, go, go look at, go, go Google their names and see if their 501c3 is still valid. Go look and see if there’s been any news items talking about these folks.

That’s gonna take you five minutes, but it’s gonna save you a lot of headache. A lot headache. It’s gonna take you five minutes to look at the Better Business Bureau, a Google, uh, name on 5 0 1c3  website. Uh oh. Look at the bottom. Look at their past recipients. Pick up the phone and call ’em and let you call them back and see what name comes up on the caller id.

If they say they the Lindsey Foundation, but they call you back and it’s Bob Johnson. You might not wanna give them your social.

Brynne: Yeah, yeah, exactly. For sure. That’s really smart.

Sheletta: It’s up to you to, to be an advocate for your kids and yourself. And like I said, this is not easy. Um, this is not, you know, for the faint of heart, you know, because it’s not falling out the freaking sky.

You gotta go get it. And I could always tell the parents who are going to go get it, because when I’m talking, they taking notes. The parents who ain’t gonna get it, they just sit, I see you, girl. They just, they sit, they sit in the workshops and they just listen. And then they go on about they business. The parents are going get it?

I get a follow up email, Hey, can you look at this essay, what you think? Hey, did I leave anything out? Hey, have you ever heard of these people before? Hey, I went on this website, but it look fishy if your website, if your, if your antivirus says, this website looks suspicious, don’t click on that. Leave that alone. Trust MacAfee please.

I have done that as well where it say oh, this looks suspicious. And nobody will ever ask you to give them money to get money. You know, so if anybody tells you to wire them money or you know you need to pay a application fee for the grant, then that’s not the one for you. You know, and, and I’ve had that happen to me too.

Oh, pay $50 for this grant application. And then I never heard from the people again. You know, and they said, oh, we give out new grants every month. If you pay us $50 a month, your name will go in the hat. No. Then you don’t have no money. You running a Ponzi scheme.

Brynne: Right. That is such an important thing to point out though, because I mean, you might not know.

Sheletta: Mm-hmm.

Joyce:  Well, thank you. I think you have been a blessing to me because I would have never known anything about this, and as a mom with multiple children, I probably would’ve paid for the fence myself.

Sheletta: Yeah. And, and you know, you don’t, you don’t have to. If you, you know, you can get out there, get the grants, find them in a timely manner, meet the deadline, meet the qualifications, you know, have your documents.

They’re gonna want, um, you know, tax information, just black out your socials. You know, some of ’em are asking you for the last four so they can verify, um, you know, if you’re giving them your driver’s license, just, you know, just black out the, the number. They just really wanna see your face and make sure you are who you say you are.

There’s a lot of fraud out there. You know, we just, we’ve got a situation here in Minnesota where there’s a foundation that was providing needy kid, uh, meals to needy kids, and they say they milked the government outta hundreds of millions of dollars, you know, and so that’s gonna make it hard on us when we’re going to look for these funds, because now everybody’s gonna be extra cautious and extra careful about who they given money to.

Brynne: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, thank you. Thank you so much.

Sheletta: Appreciate y’all. It has just been a, a pleasure and an honor. I, I just counted all joy. Anytime anybody asks me to speak to them and to the people that they speak to, um, you know, I don’t take it lightly that you ladies trusted me with your audience. And, you know, the people that trust you to deliver them good, solid sound advice and information.

Um, I I don’t take that, um, responsibility lightly. So I thank you for trusting me with the ears and the hearts of your, your listeners.

Brynne: Oh, and thank you so much for being here. We’re honored to have you. Thank you for all of the work you do in your community and beyond.

Joyce:  I really think I needed the, I needed you in my life for, for something.

You know what I mean?

Sheletta: That was Jesus. You’ve been praying, you’ve been praying. God said, you know, it’s so funny cause every day I wake up, I say, Lord, make me the answer to somebody’s problem. That’s really what I pray.

Joyce:  I, I think I it today. I was just say, I, I’m positive. I think I, I always say I wake up. I’m like, I need to learn something new.

I need to find an answer. And today it was you. I think I was blessed.

Sheletta: And then I could take a nap then. Cause God’s answered my prayer. Cause I said somebody’s problem. You got a problem. And I had so to answer I could take my nap. I’m done now, ladies.

Brynne: We’re good. Thank you so much, Sheletta.

Joyce:  You’re amazing. You’re amazing.

Sheletta: Thank you.

Brynne: Thank you so much to Sheletta. Thank you so much to all of you for listening today. I know Joyce and I learned a lot from our guest. I hope you did too. As always, we hope you’ll find that little subscribe button so that you can be notified the next time in episode goes live. Right now we’ve got a plan for season three to continue having weekly episodes for about the next eight to 10 weeks.

So we look forward to seeing you then. Bye.

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