Health Fitness Revolution believes that true health encompasses a physical, mental, spiritual, and social balance. This is precisely why we sat down with Elizabeth Pudwill, a well respected journalist from the Houston Chronicle (and one of our great contributing authors), for her to talk about a project called “I Know Somebody Houston” (IKSH) which aims at socially connecting people to work symbiotically for mutual benefit:
What is I Know Somebody Houston?
Imagine the power of me connecting all of my contacts to all of yours and then they all connect and on and on and on. That’s what IKSH is. It’s a fellowship, a network for the women of Houston to use their resources, their contacts to meet the needs of other women. It’s designed so that the members can use the power of the group to get what they need. A job, clients, ideas, services, friends.
That’s a great idea, is it your idea?
Yes, but sort of a group effort. I have a small book study group and one of the women in the group had lost her job. And she was without a job for about a year and was starting to feel desperate. And I told her that I thought if we could find a way to connect all of my contacts to hers and then to all of their and on and on, that she could find her job. And that’s how it came about. Because we all know somebody.
So, how does it work?
Well women join our facebook page or our website, and it’s all free and then they just post their need on the page. We have women looking for places to rent, veterinarians, plumbers, attorneys, jobs, employees, editors. There are women that have businesses that clean and or sell rugs; have products to sell; personal trainers; massage therapists.
What do you mean when you say post their need?
Once a woman joins our facebook group, they are a member of the group. They simply type a message on facebook while on the IKSH page and state what they are looking for. This morning some of the posts are “you are invited to an … event” “a salon in Katy is looking for a full and part-time stylist” “I am looking to update my vacuum cleaner to a Dyson, suggestions?” “I need some help with an imminent domain problem with Harris County”. Those are just a sampling of what happens in a normal day on the facebook page.
Have you been able to meet any of their needs?
YES! Before we even had our first event, I got a call at work from some guy. He wanted the Chronicle to do a story on him and his wife because they needed a new air conditioner and could not afford one. He called because he thought that if the Chronicle ran a story on him someone would help him.
Initially I told him “well ,we don’t just run stories about people in need.” But I continued talking to him and listening and I just thought…”why not?” and I told him about the group, that I had just started it, but I would try. I went on our facebook page and posted it. Within 20 minutes one of the members said “I know somebody.” I gave her the guys information and he called me two days later. He said he wanted to thank me for finding someone to help him They came the day after he talked to me, installed the new air conditioner and his house was now cool and he and his wife were very happy.
That really made what I am doing valid. We really helped someone. I did not know either of these people. All I did was connect them. That’s what I do, I connect people.
How do you get members?
Word of mouth. That is part of the concept. Once a woman becomes a member of the group she can invite her friends to join the group.
So what are your goals? Where do you want to end up with this thing?
Ahhh good question. Right now, we are working towards 5,000 then 10,00,0 then 100,000 members. Once we do that we will move onto other cities, to Dallas, Austin, Chicago, LA. We want to have an IKS in every major metropolitan city in the US. Then the world.
Our intention is to garner sponsors. Companies and organizations that are seeking the demographic we have. As we build the numbers we are getting closer and closer to obtaining sponsors.
We also want to establish a scholarship fund. I want to help single mothers educate their kids. I want a scholarship based on need. Not the athletic skills of the student or their grades or their extra curricular activities. Just need. I have a daughter and am a single mother and I don’t want my daughter taking out student loans to go to school. But it’s expensive. And I don’t have the kind of funds needed. She was an ok student in High School. And she was a pretty good athlete. But not a full ride scholarship to a D1 school athlete. I want to help other women like me. Main stream single mothers.
We would like to establish a foundation to help other problem areas. A couple of our members work with women that were caught up in human trafficking. We would like to establish some sort of aid for those women.
We have women interested in creating non-profits to aid high school students through the college application process among others.
We also just started I Know Somebody Houston, Men. We have not even had our first meeting but I can feel the men are going to be as big as the women’s side, maybe even bigger. My experience with men’s groups is that they take a bit longer to build, but men are much more loyal and work harder within their groups.
How have you been able to do all this in a year?
It’s the board. There are some incredible women involved. I am very proud of the diversity we have on our board as well as the hard working women involved. They see the vision I have and add to it, embellish it and work extremely hard to make everything happen. They are professional and smart and fun.
Who is your target audience?
Women. (laughs) Most of the women in IKSH are jugglers. There are women that have a full-time day job, like myself and V. President, Diana Garaghty, and are also working a business of their own; an entrepreneurial endeavor. There are women who work full time and go to school, like board members, Christy McIntrye and Christina Garaghty. There are a lot of women entrepreneurs, such as Phyllis Bailey, Lisa Renee, Aisha Khan-Akoojee and Markita Samuels. Students, business owners, employees, mothers. We have had a few women seek us out because they work from their homes and are a bit isolated.
So what is the average attendance at an IKSH meeting?
Sadly, about 45. And the room should be full.
What kind of education do you have?
Our very first speaker was Joy Sewing, Houston Chronicle Fashion and Beauty writer. We also had a talk on Marketing yourself and doing what you love by Sarah Gish. Deepi Sidhu is a stylist and personal shopper, she gave tips about shopping and going from the office to evening wear. Coming up we have restaurateur Monica Pope, Kim Davis and Rawfully Organic Co-op founder Kristina Carillo-Bucaram. I am excited about both of these women as well as some we are still tying up details with.
What are your challenges?
What isn’t? (laughs again) Currently our priorities are to build our brand. We are working on a logo, then the website and getting the word out using different mediums. We also are tackling our growth and moving the women from the facebook page to the website and ultimately to the meetings.
The meetings are where the magic really happens. Our last couple of meetings were powerful. In May our speaker was Women’s Insite, a web magazine, developer Kathryn Crawford Wheat. She has this incredible story of resilience and taking risks. There were a few tears shed in the audience during her talk. To celebrate our first year on June 6, we invited some of our past speakers to give tips on networking. Seven professionals had 3 minutes each to share some quick tips and instructions about networking. By providing informative and relatable speakers, the connection in the room is incredible. We all experience it.
That is the ultimate goal. To connect the women to each other. Our message is that you are not alone. You do not have to go through or do anything alone. Starting a new business? The women in IKSH will help you. Need a job? The women will help. Going back to work after having a baby? The women in the group will help you find a nanny, support you emotionally and more.