Most people’s dads wouldn’t scare me. Carl was different. He was the dad with muscles. He was the guy who skated around town on roller blades before they were popular. He got into fights during town soccer games.
Carl Blum scared the crap out of me.
When I was 19-years-old I dated his daughter, Hester. I remember going to pick Hester up at her house for the first time. Carl answered the door and smiled.
Carl put his arm around me. He didn’t put his arm around me the way a loving grandparent does, but the way a mafia boss does in a movie right before someone gets whacked. Carl walked me to the living room and looked me right in the eyes.
“I don’t want my daughter to ever tell me you made her unhappy,” he warned. Then Carl gave me a crushing handshake. He held on for an uncomfortably long time. When he finally let go, he called to Hester, letting her know I had arrived to pick her up.
I couldn’t get out of his house fast enough.
Hester was a great girlfriend. I know I was a bit of a bonehead sometimes, and I’m sure I occasionally made her unhappy. I will be forever in her debt for not saying anything to her dad.
About 15 years after we dated, I ran into Hester. We caught up and she mentioned that her dad had started a nonprofit. I was impressed and dropped him an email. That led to catching up with Carl.
Now, I’m not really sure what the average 70 year-old man does every day. . .
Walk around naked in the gym locker room?
I do know that Carl wasn’t the average 70-year-old.
At 66, when most grandparents I knew were retiring, Carl decided to start the nonprofit he has been running with his business partner for the past 5 years. He had heard how difficult it was for veterans returning from combat to find jobs, and he wanted to make a difference.
Carl and Bob Deissig (also retired) founded Tip of the Arrow, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Veterans find jobs. Carl and Bob both have backgrounds in employment staffing, and Bob is a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran. Carl mentioned that Bob is the strategist and the brains behind the operation.
These two inspirational guys have spent the last 5 years of retirement placing or assisting in the placement of over 950 veterans. They’ve found high quality, high paying jobs for those veterans, changing the veterans’ lives and their families’ lives forever.
Over the past several years, Carl could often be found on the phone talking to Comcast, JB Hunt and other companies about amazing employees he had for their organizations or counseling veterans about finding employment. And by the way, all of his clients had his cell phone number.
Carl and Bob didn’t just find jobs for officers. As you might imagine, Carl looks for the toughest challenges. Tip of the Arrow focused on the military members who would have the most difficult time finding work – enlisted soldiers.
Could you imagine returning from serving your country, wanting to work and finding yourself unable to support your family? I couldn’t. It must feel both helpless and infuriating.
For First Sgt Chris Tomlin, Tip of the Arrow helped him put his experience into a civilian resume, provided support, and introduced him to companies that are friendly to veterans. They gave him the tools to land a job to support his family. Chris said he couldn’t thank them enough. That Tip of the Arrow did more as a volunteer company than most for profit companies did. Chris was grateful that they motivated and helped him every step of the way.
Carl changed Chris and his family’s lives. And the lives of the hundreds of other veterans.
Recently, Carl temporarily stopped working due to some health problems. I was thinking of how much he accomplished, and it moved me to write about him.
When I congratulated Carl on his success, he said, “I’m a jobs mechanic and I feel honored to be able to be in their lives. I never think I do anything special. I just feel honored. Nicest experience of my life other than family. I feel fortunate to be allowed in their lives and to be trusted by them.”
I love that Carl and Bob took action.
I love that they changed lives.
I love that they showed anyone who watched them that you’re never too old to make a difference.
If you’d like to make a difference, Carl recommends supporting Fisher House as a great nonprofit that supports veterans. Fisher House is a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment.
If you’re interested, here are the other inspirational people I’ve blogged about.