Richard Villasana is the founder of the nonprofit Forever Homes for Foster Kids and a leading international authority on immigration issues and foster families. He's a columnist with Foster Focus magazine and he's been featured on CNN International, AP News and ABC TV.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 362
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Higher Education Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/webinars[04:13] Tom's introduction to Richard Villasana [07:51] How Richard helps foster kids [11:26] Evolving into a charity [18:43] Working with big companies [23:13] Combination of online and face-to-face [26:22] Sponsor message [29:44] A typical day for Richard and how he stays motivated
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Episode 362 – Richard Villasana
[00:00:08] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.
[00:00:24] Hey, everybody it's Tom here with episode three hundred and sixty two of Screw the Podcast. I'm here with Richard Villasana. He is with ForeverHomesforFosterKids.org. And he has been doing great things for children for many, many years. He's helped over 10000 families. And I'm going to let him tell you the details of that when he comes on in a few minutes. So really excited about talking to him, known him for a long time. Now, if you would like to hear your own voice here on a a screw the commute episode, all you have to do is go to screwthecommute.com and there's a little blue side bar that says send the voicemail. So if you've learned something or something that's helped your business, we want to hear about it. Just go there, click your button on your phone to record or just talk into your phone or your computer microphone and you can leave a nice voicemail for us. And we will edit it into a future episode and you'll get a great big shout out. So just leave your website or whatever you want to promote there, too. So that's screwthecommute.com. While you're over there, grab a copy of our automation ebook. It's a gift to you for listening to the show sells for twenty seven bucks, but it's yours free. You pick that up at screwthecommute.com/automatefree and it'll really help your business.
[00:01:57] It has cell phone tips. It has all kinds of automation tips where just one of the tips we figured it out a couple of years ago saved me seven and a half million keystrokes. OK, and we're not exaggerating, so pick that up at screwthecommute.com/automatefree. And also you can grab a copy of our podcast app, at screwthecommute.com/app and you can put it on your cell phone and tablet. We got instructions and videos and stuff. How to show you how to use it and you can take us with you on the road. Now I know everybody's freaking out still and there's a lot of lot of sadness because of this pandemic and threats of lockdown and previous lockdowns. And, you know, people are hurting. And I totally understand that. But I've been preaching for over twenty years since I've been selling on the Internet for 26 years and been teaching it for like 22 years. So so I've been preaching that you can stay out of those kind of nasty situations if you learn how to sell from home online, have your own online business. You can start out as a side hustle if you want or go full time. It doesn't really matter. There's no limit to what you can do online.
[00:03:14] And I formalized my training, even though I've been teaching this for 22 years. About 12 years ago, I formalized it in the form of a school. It's the only licensed, dedicated Internet marketing school in the country, probably the world, and its license to operate by SCHEV, the State Council on Higher Education in Virginia. But you don't have to be in Virginia to attend. You can. It's distance learning to learn.
[00:03:40] And then now it's more prevalent than ever that you can legitimately work from home. You save all kinds of time commuting. That's why we call this screw the commute. Right? I've never had a job, never been in a commute situation and don't ever want to be put it that way. So check that out at IMTCVA.org. It's a great thing for your kids, your grandchildren, your nephews and nieces, or to help your business do way better online. And a little later, I'll tell you how you can get a full scholarship to the school if you're in my mentor program.
[00:04:14] All right. Let's get to the main event. Richard Villasana is the founder of the nonprofit Forever Homes for Foster Kids and a leading international authority on immigration issues and foster families. He's a columnist with Foster Focus magazine and he's been featured on CNN International, AP News, ABC, TV, even Kozko Connections. That's an interesting one in The Washington Post. And I saw his press page is way more than that. So, Richard, are you ready to screw the community?
[00:04:50] How are you doing, man? Thanks a lot.
[00:04:53] I know you're doing good things out there for four families. And so tell everybody what you're doing now, and then we'll take you back to see how you made it to where you are now.
[00:05:05] Well, presently we're working cases, believe it or not, during the holidays, things really ramp up, we'll tell to tell everybody what you exactly do.
[00:05:16] Well, through my charity, we get foster children cases for children who are in foster care and we go and locate their relatives and it could even be a parent so that by connecting them with their families, they can get out of the foster care system are really important.
[00:05:36] Yeah, because there's a lot of abuse goes on there. Right?
[00:05:40] There's a lot of abuse. And more than that, though, there's a lot of trauma that these children are going through on a daily basis.
[00:05:48] Like, I mean, physical, mental abuse or just the uncertainty about who they are or what, how far can it go?
[00:05:58] Well, a number of ways. So first, imagine a child sitting, having dinner with his parents. And, you know, these big, huge people come busting through the door. Maybe their parents are yelling and screaming at them. The next thing you know, some big adult has picked them up, taking them outside the house. Maybe they the last thing they see is their father on the floor with someone on top of the handcuffing of their mother screaming. Maybe they end up with nothing on it except maybe whatever. They were there at dinner time. No favorite toy, no blanket, nothing. They're just put in a car by adults. They're driven away from their home. That's how a lot, you know, some kids in her foster care and other situations are more quieter. That is how it can happen with some children who enter foster care. So there's that trauma immediately. And no matter how quietly a child is removed from a parent, they're still separated. And so there's that massive trauma that there's a trauma being, you know, again, around people you don't know. They probably don't understand the situation. They're put in homes and listen to the people who run the homes or you know that most of those people are really wonderful, dedicated, caring adults. But they're in a home for six months. And the next thing they know, they came home from school and someone says, you got ten minutes to get your clothes together, put it in this garbage bag you're leaving and can move to another home. And so there's this constant instability and the kids know this.
[00:07:36] They know that any day could be the day, no matter how much fun they had school or how much fun they had, whatever, that that could be the day they come home or they get the phone call that they got to move.
[00:07:51] Wow. So, yeah, it's quite sobering when, you know, I grew up in a nice, you know, two parent family with none of that stuff going on. So, I mean, imagine how I would be for a young person, so. What do you do about it?
[00:08:10] Well, once a child comes into foster care law, these agencies are supposed to jump into action and start looking for other adults, a grandparent, an uncle and older cousin could even be an older sibling, somebody who will step up. And that whole concept is if you get enough of these relatives, somebody will say, no, I'll take them. And that way, if you get them out of the foster care system, back to their families, to people that they know.
[00:08:40] So is it technically, if it's a relative, is it technically still a foster situation or is it not?
[00:08:50] If it happens immediately, we return that kinship care, so severe kinship care, a lot of people will have heard that term and that's where the child goes with a relative. That's always preferable that the child is with family. I've actually talked to former foster kids and asked them, would you have wanted to be with strangers no matter how nice or kind or caring or with a distant relative? And 90 percent will say, I'll take the relative, because they feel it's still family, even if they haven't met them in, many of these foster kids will say, I would rather have gone to my grandmother.
[00:09:32] I know about her, but I didn't spend time with her. But I would rather have been with grandma rather than moved around from home to home with the foster families. And this is something that's really important for the public to understand. It's not like the foster parents take these children in and six months they say, you know what, that's enough. Move on. A lot of these parents, they're there for the long term. They're willing to stay with a child. It's the agencies who move them around and move them twice a year. On average, one gets frustrated. You know, that's a great question. I wish I had a good answer. You know, it's a frustration point for foster parents who are willing and able to give their time and love and attention to a child just to have that child moved for whatever reason.
[00:10:25] Wow. That's really crazy. Now, if if you do the keine route, is that kin automatically a legal guardian or is that have to be a court hearing for that or what?
[00:10:38] So they do. There is a court hearing and they are made the legal guardian for that. That child then can turn into an adoption. So just because the child is put with grandma, grandpa doesn't mean that they've adopted a child. Right. That could take one to two years, depending upon where they are in the country. And again, this is a big country. What happens in Texas doesn't happen that way over in California or in Massachusetts. And a lot of people will judge the foster care system by what happens in a local area, whether it's good or bad, and assume that's what happens everywhere. It's not it runs the gamut from wonderful to really pitiful.
[00:11:26] So let's see how you got here. Now, I understand you're a Navy veteran. Is that true?
[00:11:32] Yes, well, I didn't know that. And I would you know, on behalf of everybody, I want to thank you for your service.
[00:11:39] And we just had Veterans Day the other day. And and I know the sacrifices that everybody's made for this country.
[00:11:47] But but tell us about any jobs you had and then how it evolved into this charity started.
[00:11:56] Well, the most important one was after I got out of the military, I was out on a medical discharge and when I got out, I started looking around for my next career and I was in San Diego and I'd always wanted to travel internationally and I'd heard about international marketing.
[00:12:14] So I thought, great, this is it, my chance, let's go for it. So I went to CSU and here in San Diego and I met a gentleman. His name was Antoine Morrison.
[00:12:28] And this gentleman, he was the type of mentor you could only pray for. He had spent years in Europe. He had spent years traveling around Latin America. He was Nwosu and about a dozen countries. He had done work for the Department of Defense, for foreign governments. He had worked with Fortune 500 companies. He could tell you story after story about working with Boeing and doing a deal for the DOD and just go on and on for hours and days.
[00:13:03] And I caught his attention because I was very enthusiastic and I went to his paid courses, and then finally I was able to convince him to give me some private tutoring at that time because I wanted to do my traveling and we decided on Mexico is nearby, certainly cheaper to get down to Mexico, that was to fly to France or some other place in Europe.
[00:13:28] And so I started building my business internationally. We had some really serious bumps in the road, though. Nineteen ninety four. We were rated close on a multibillion dollar deal, flew out of Mexico City. A week later, the economy collapsed and just took everything, including all the hard work we put in to get to that point of having a multibillion dollar deal. It's just disappeared.
[00:13:55] So what did you speak Spanish at the time? Because I heard you on TV speaking Spanish. But did you pick it up or when did you start speaking Spanish?
[00:14:03] I picked it up because I actually at one time spoke four languages, French, Italian and Spanish and English.
[00:14:11] So I had to forget the Italian because I kept mixing it with Spanish, which which is not good when you're negotiating with the government agency.
[00:14:25] So I with Antoine, though, at one point he's we're working together and I would do things for him also as a trade off. And so one day comes to my desk and he says, I want you to find like Barry Johnson and Barry works for the Department of Commerce and he's located in Washington, D.C. That's all I know. See what you can do. Now, this is pre Google, right? I'm sure there was a, you know, World Wide Web at that point. So later I come to his desk and I drop off a piece of paper. He says, what is this? I said, that's the phone number. He said, the phone number for what I said for Barry. And he said, this is the phone number for Barry. And I'm thinking, well, yes, what's wrong with my English?
[00:15:13] Yes, I want to get back to work.
[00:15:17] And he looks as what she said. I asked you for his information five minutes ago, and I said, well, I tried to be fast, but, you know, it took me a few minutes. Like, no, you're going to explain to me how you did this in five minutes.
[00:15:31] I said, well, I called Betty over at the Economic Development Center. She got me over to John in D.C. I talked to him for a minute. He got me to Cesan. We talked for a minute and she gave me the phone number.
[00:15:44] And I'm still thinking, job done. I'm ready to get back to my desk job. And he says, nobody does this. And I said, I do all the time. And again, I'm still halfway to my desk. He says, You're not listening to me. And I had known him well enough to know that meant I was missing a really important point, right. So I come back. Calm down, OK, what am I missing? He said, you know who I am. Yes. You know the people I've run around with. Yes. You said what I tell you, I have never met someone who could do what you just did.
[00:16:23] That means something, and if he had not been who he was and if I had not respected him so much, maybe not know my personality to make me stop and listen. None of this charity in the work I've done would ever have happened once I did it so casually, I never gave it a second thought. But I did this for us in the company of four other people all the time. I would find the right official who was going to sign off on a. Billion dollars worth of equipment that we were selling and if you want to know someone, that's the one person to know and I found them and I would do this without knowing who they were, but I just knew this was the right person.
[00:17:11] It was all very intuition. And just that's the way I do a lot of things, it's very much an art, not a science. So that was huge in getting me started on to realizing this. And at the same time, a lot of people wanted me to start helping them to find relatives both in the US and in Mexico. And this whole idea of reuniting people grew from that and then morphed into more cases for foster children until we decided to push everything aside and just focus on foster children.
[00:17:55] When you say we.
[00:17:58] This was the guy, the mentor, you and your wife.
[00:18:01] Oh, well, that's the corporate way. It's a terrible habit I have made me so.
[00:18:13] So but you worked for so that the mentor is still around or is he gone?
[00:18:19] You're still alive. He's doing very well, relaxing in Mexico. I do talk to him from time to time.
[00:18:28] He will always have my eternal gratitude, respect and admiration. He is an amazing person and I was very lucky that, you know, he mentored me.
[00:18:41] That's all of his skills and mentors can really cut through the stuff. So but you worked for some big conglomerates and stuff like what you say, Time Warner or something?
[00:18:52] Yes, I did work for Time Warner Cable. That now spectrum. That was a lot of fun, a tough industry, but it was very interesting. We hold my skills in certain areas. I've worked I we have worked with companies like Cisco Systems. I've done research for companies like AT&T. I used to rep hundreds of US manufacturers selling.
[00:19:25] It's in Latin America, I've done business in almost every country in Latin America, and that's what helped with the work that I do now, because the children that I'm able to help, there are easily 20 percent of all the foster kids or Latinos. And when I say Latinos, I don't mean, you know, the kids. We hear about crossing the border. I'm talking about US citizens, just like we have Asian families from Asia. We have families from your families, from Latin America. They're US citizens with US parents.
[00:20:02] They're Latinos. And if they end up in the foster care system, the chances are high that the relatives, some of them are still living in either Mexico or Central America or I did a case recently where we found two parents who were living in Brazil. I mean, it's this people move back and forth, and I think some people pigeonhole foster care and had this idea that it's all within the US.
[00:20:31] And if you mention another ethnicity, I don't I don't know where the brain goes, but help let young people get divorced, mom or dad go back to home, could be in Mexico, could be in some other place in Latin America, given the geography, instead of going to Europe or Asia.
[00:20:51] All right. So what are you doing this before you actually formally started the charity?
[00:20:58] So, yes, I was doing this and doing the foster care work and kind of war under a business manual, and this has been a real interesting journey. We did that then it worked where we were under another nonprofit and they were our sponsor. And we did that for several years.
[00:21:23] And then we outgrew them so they would inject money for you to be appropriate. No, no, no. What do you mean by sponsor sponsors to give you money?
[00:21:34] Well, sponsor in a sense that they gave us their non-profit protection, our umbrella. Oh, I say OK. And that allows you to do as many things. And this is a great way for anyone who's out there who's thinking, I'd like to do something charitable. This is one way to do it. Find a charity who is already doing something or has the financial and admin ability to bring you in and let you work under their final Wannsee three. And that's a great way to get started. Non-profit field.
[00:22:07] Feel good point. Good point.
[00:22:09] Now I will share one other good point. And that's not to do that. And that's to actually find someone who's doing something that you really have affinity for, like pets. And go work for the ASPCA, because I will tell you, running a charity is a lot of work and fundraising is a lot of work. And the admin and there are there are people out there that if they could, they would they would go work for someone else. I honestly, we have thought about it, but no one does what we do.
[00:22:45] Right. And that's one of the reasons why we don't, because we feel a very specific niche, helping a very specific group of foster children. There you go. Saying we again.
[00:22:56] Yeah, well, I was thinking about my team. I mean, my team is part of it. It's not me. It's my wife, Christine. That is my assistant, Angela, and it is my graphics person. So they they're they're working with me, putting in their time, extra time that was always done online now or do you have to get on a plane and fly to Mexico or what?
[00:23:19] How are you locating these people?
[00:23:22] It's a combination. We will do things. A lot of it is online. A lot of it is through email, phone conversations. But that's a good tribute to our ability to communicate properly. If you don't know what you're doing, I don't care if you're standing in front of the person, you're not going to get very far. If you know the cultural aspects and know how to relate to people, then you can do a lot of this on the phone. You'll get people who will volunteer. And I've had people volunteer to do amazing things for us that they won't do for someone else.
[00:23:59] But that's because we approach them with the proper cultural attitude, respect, and they see that and they respond to that.
[00:24:09] Basically good business skills say it seems to me, because I have that TV show in development called Scam Brigade, but it seems to me you're kind of like a benevolent skip tracer.
[00:24:23] You find people, I mean, skip tracers. Like if somebody didn't pay their bill and left the state, then somebody goes after him and finds them. But you're finding people and reuniting them with their their kids.
[00:24:35] I mean, that's similar skill set, I imagine, but for a different purpose.
[00:24:42] Oh, exactly. I mean, it it also, again, is an art you have to look at the information in front of you and you have to be able to look beyond the information. And what does that mean?
[00:24:53] So if someone gives me the name of Pena, if you know what you're doing, you know that that spelling is a very popular or maybe it is more popular than Pena with a little squiggly line.
[00:25:10] And that little squiggly line can make all the difference in the world. You can have someone whose name is Gonzalez, that is the Z or isn't an S, and certain spellings are more popular than other ones. And if you don't have that flexibility, then you're not going to get very far because you're going to be so stuck on what's in front of you. And I can tell you a lot of times what's in front of you is not correct.
[00:25:39] Give you an example.
[00:25:41] You get a mother who's very upset with her husband, who now is no longer the picture, and she will give his last name and totally mess it up and then. So with my team and we'll look it over and say, you know, based on the genealogy of the other names, it should be Gonzalez Martinez, not Martinez, Gonzalez. And then I'll tell the caseworker and the caseworker will call up and say.
[00:26:11] You know, Mrs. Gonzales shouldn't be oh, I'm so sorry, how did I make that mistake?
[00:26:21] Oh, yeah, this is definitely an art to that to know all those little ins and outs and be able to see those things when they arise.
[00:26:29] So so we got to take a response, a break. When we come back, we're going to ask Richard what a typical day looks like for him, whether I don't know if that exists. We're going to ask him anyway and how he stays motivated when I imagine it has something to do with helping these children. But but, folks, I told you earlier that you could get a full scholarship to my school if you got in my mentor program. Well, it's the most popular most I mean, I'll tell you why it's most popular, because to get into my program, you don't have to pay 50 or 100 thousand dollars like many other people want you to pay up front. You pay an entry fee. And then my success is tied to your success. So I don't get my big money unless you make way bigger money. And so that when I came out with that over 20 years ago, people went crazy and seventeen hundred plus students later. It's still going strong, but it's very unique. Teaches you how to make an online business. It's unique in the fact that it's one on one. Me and my entire team work with you one on one. You're not lumped in with group sessions where you're lost half the time or bought half the time. You also have an immersion trip to the great Internet marketing retreat center in Virginia Beach, of course, after the pandemic. But you have an immersion weekend where you actually live in the house with me and watch orders come in and see how we do things. And we train you the whole weekend. Plus we put you in our TV studio and shoot high definition videos for you, some of which on the open market go for 700 to 1500 dollars each. And nobody's ever gotten out of here with less than 10 and somebody did 53 of them one time. So so this is very unique. And like I said, you do get a scholarship that you can either use yourself or gift to someone that means something to you.
[00:28:32] And we had one guy join the mentor program gift the scholarship to his daughter, who he had spent 80000 dollars on her crappy education, and she was working some menial job. And within one month, she was making a thousand dollars a month on the side. After three months, she was up to 3000. After four months, she was up to 6000 dollars a month as a side hustle. Hadn't even graduated yet from the school. So all of these are highly in demand skills. In the typical traditional world, they're teaching kids how to protest and and then they're getting out and working at Starbucks. So we don't want that. We want you to be able to work from home, write your own ticket and have a marketable skill that's in high demand. That's what we do. So if you're interested in a mentor program, check out greatInternetmarketingtraining.com, and then give me a call or email me. All this stuff will be in the show notes along with Richard's great stuff, and we'll get you in the program and and take off with it, because I don't want to see people suffering from this pandemic because of finances.
[00:29:45] All right, folks, let's get back to the main event. We're here with Richard Villasana. He is doing great, great things for children and families. And Richard, so what's a typical day look like for you to get up early? Do you work at breakfast? What's what's it like in the in your your realm?
[00:30:05] Actually, I laugh sometimes because the first thing I do is I wake up and pretty much sit in front of my monitor and check emails and see what's going on and see how I can move forward in the day with the foster care cases that we have.
[00:30:22] So how many times I mean, do you have going at one time?
[00:30:29] It varies, we usually have anywhere between eight and 16, 20 cases one time while.
[00:30:37] Wow, wow, wow, yeah. And so so then what?
[00:30:42] So then I'll definitely grab breakfast, I am not a morning person, though, I am a night owl if I'm up at four o'clock in the morning. That's not unusual.
[00:30:54] I will sometimes stretch it to eight o'clock sometimes if I have a really early meeting for some reason, I may just stay up until after it's over and then go to sleep. So. But I spend my time just on a variety of things.
[00:31:11] It's working the cases. It's doing research for the different countries, maybe making some new relations, finding some new connectors for a case that we're working on. Again, I'm not the only one involved in this. This cannot be a one person show. I've got assistants and people in other countries who are doing work for me and with me. So it's not just myself, but certainly as the founder and the CEO, I am the runner for the organization at the moment and directing where we go a lot of the time is spent doing the research and it's dogged research. It's very manual. It's not like I can go to Google and pull up information. Ten minutes. That's a misconception right there. It's a lot of communicating with people and with what's going on right now that has slowed down tremendously. It may take me or us up to three to four weeks to get a response. And that's on the other side. Well, then imagine you've got other countries where they've got hurricanes coming through constantly and their systems are being disrupted. They're working from home. Their kids are also doing as we are here doing remote schools. They've got their kids at home. So this year has been extremely interesting in doing this work and getting these children connected to the relatives and getting them out of the system.
[00:32:50] Well, good for you. Good for you, man. So how do you stay motivated, especially with all these delays? And I'm sure you get frustrations and you're trying to help these kids. How do you how do you personally stay motivated?
[00:33:03] You know, that's a great question, because I just do it for me, this is such an injustice. These children did nothing right. These children end up in foster care. They are there for no fault of their own if they're there because their parents, adults could live their lives properly, couldn't keep it together, or sometimes life just happens. There's this feeling that when people are homeless, it's because they do it on purpose or if they just done the right thing. Well, sometimes life happens and you end up in those situations and, you know, we have to do what we can to protect children. And so I feel a very strong motivation there. I'm the oldest of nine kids. And so being from that, I had a very strong sense of responsibility. I have a very strong sense of justice. And foster children are knocking the justice they deserve. And when I say justice, I mean the attention, the time, the money, the budgets, the focus on taking care of the trauma, of getting them as soon as possible back with relatives. You know, it's a lot it's a process that is well intended. But because it's disjointed, every state has their own way of doing it. Some counties has their own way of doing it.
[00:34:29] You know as well as I do, if a business ran that way where every store got to call their own shots, it would be chaos and we kind of have chaos. With foster care, no matter how well-meaning, how wonderful or dedicated, it can be a whole lot better. And it's an industry that is overdue for a real revolution and stepping it up to the next level and getting those systems and processes across the board so that everyone is going from a nice point of origin to move forward instead of this creating it your way, doing it their way, or who knows what way.
[00:35:12] Well, all I can say is, thank God for you and all the team that you've put together and the great, great work that you're doing. Tell tell everybody how they can either participate or get a hold of you or whatever.
[00:35:25] Well, the best way is actually through our Facebook page, facebook.com/familyfindingmx, or they can put in forever homes for foster kids into the search. They're on Facebook, they'll see our page. We've got more than fourteen thousand five hundred followers. It's very active. We are a source for people to get questions answered. We respond very well to comments. So we're very engaged there on that page and educating people on how to adopt, how to be a foster parent. And that would be the best way for people to do that. And, of course, to ask us to volunteer and or donate.
[00:36:17] Beautiful. Yes, we're going to have all of these things in the show notes, folks. So don't worry if you didn't catch them there and. Well, gee, thanks, Richard, for coming on and enlightening us how you can take some life experiences and turn it into a charity and do do good. Good in the world. Thanks so much, man.
[00:36:36] You're so welcome. Thank you for having me.
[00:36:38] All right, everybody. We'll catch y'all on the next episode later. See ya later.
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