By Guest Blogger Jay Callahan
I began my blog at www.jmclaincallahan.com in 2016 and it had a great first year. It was runner-up for best Winston-Salem blog of the year (2016), and I was awarded with a Winston-Salem Under 40 Leadership Award.
I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing all of the Famous Winston-Salemites and Local Difference Makers, plus my blogs about my family and friends. I love Winston-Salem and its people, and I wanted to add another dimension to my blog that incorporated more about our city through meeting regular people.
My top job is a father of two great kids, McKinley (6) and Hudson (4), and a husband to my beautiful wife, Katie. My main job is a college soccer coach at Salem College. Go Spirits! My writing is a passion of mine, and I wanted to add a new dimension to the blog through a social experiment project.
The plan was to Uber throughout 2017 and give all driving tips to different Forsyth County charity each month. My very first Uber drive was with a ninth grade girlfriend of mine (completely unplanned). (Photo to thee right!) As with a lot of plans, things change, and this one has evolved into something much larger, a man with a van raising awareness and money for different organizations using the power of social media.
In the past four months, the man van has raised money and awareness for the Forsyth County Humane Society, the Ronald McDonald House, Piedmont Down Syndrome Support Network (PDSSN), and the ABC Center of NC through auctions, giveaways, and various contests. We have also filled the man van (with the help of several Winston-Salemites) with clothes and blankets to hand out to the homeless in Winston-Salem, and cans to donate to the Second Harvest Food Bank.
Each week, I travel to the Forsyth Animal Shelter to take a photo of a Project Pearl animal that is in search of a forever home. Project Pearl named an entire litter of puppies after my family and they were all adopted within a day.
The man van has also hosted four musicians (Victoria Victoria, Emma Lee, The Tyler Millard Band, and Grubby Little Hands) to help promote their music. They play in the back of the van while I drive. The Wake Forest Men’s Soccer Team signed a ball for a little girl (Quinn), and we auctioned it off for PDSSN, and Wake Forest Men’s Basketball signed a ball with all proceeds going to ABC of NC. We have had local artists like Kat Lamp and Laura Lashley ride in the van and paint, and then we auctioned off their paintings. We also had a race against the Wings over Winston drone from Old Salem to the BB&T Ballpark.
Local restaurants have also been very supportive of the man van. Spring House, Willow’s, Mission Pizza, and The West End Café all donated dinners that were given away in various man van challenges.
The next several months should be very exciting for the man van. In May, the man van is teaming with Camel City Goods/Airtype to raise awareness, collect food, and raise money for Second Harvest Food Bank. A couple famous musicians will be joining me to sign posters to auction off.
I will announce the charity of the month for June through December the week leading up to that month. You can follow along on my personal Jay Callahan Facebook page (click here) or @manvaningthroughwinston on Instagram (click here).
I look forward to the rest of 2017 and this man van social experiment. In 2013, I released me first novel, Collisions (available here: Collisions on Amazon), and my goal is to write my second book about this adventure!
Check out other “Doing Good Things” blogs here:
“Doing Good Things Series” – H.O.P.E
“Doing Good Things Series”- Empowered Girls of North Carolina
“Doing Good Things Series” – The Speech Bus
“Doing Good Things Series” – Buddy Break
“Doing Good Things Series” – The Robert DeLoach Heroes League
“Doing Good Things Series” – The iCan House
“Doing Good Things Series” – ReadWS/Augustine Literacy Project
To nominate a non-profit to be featured in our “Doing Good Things” series, email Rachel@triadmomsonmain.com.
*Photo credit for family pics: Emily Elrod Photography