A Sit-Down with Dr. Barb Brady of Inspiring Dreams Network Corporation

As Part of the Heroes of Change Podcast

Barb Brady (President) MA, LPC, PhD. Dr. Brady holds a PhD in Leadership in Educational Administration, MA in School Counseling and certifications in Superintendent (PK-AD), Supervisor General Instruction (PK-AD), Principal (PK-AD), (PK – Adult), Marriage, Couples and Family Therapy and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She has over 30 years’ experience building student support systems in public schools. Dr. Brady is also a certified Youth Mental Health First Aid trainer and a certified Connections Matter Trainer. Dr. Brady served as school counselor for nearly 25 years, then as the WVDE Coordinator for School Counseling and the Expanded School Mental Health lead for 10 years; developing inaugural school counseling performance standards, state model and an aligned standards-based evaluation system.

Additionally, while in her WVDE position, she lead the development of the LINKS Student Advisement system, served as a critical member on various policy revision teams, the data governance team, as well as other collaborative teams that lead positive changes in the school system. She served in several leadership positions, including President of the WV and American School Counseling Association (ASCA). Dr. Brady has provided staff development for counselors, teachers, principals and community stakeholders at the local, regional, state and national level. She has extensive experience conference planning, having lead or co lead several state and national conferences, including the School Counseling, KIdStrong, Student Success Summit, School Improvement Conference, and the ASCA Conference and Leadership Development Institute. Dr. Brady was recognized as the School Counselor of the Year in 2002 and the School Counseling Advocate of the Year in 2009 and 2017 by the WV School Counselor Association.

Retiring from WVDE in 2017, she provides ongoing training and technical systems to schools through her business, Learning Support Consulting, LLC. She also provides consulting services for Marshall University School of Health, developing resources for Expanded School Mental Health; provides web-based therapy to youth and families through BetterHelp; while serving as the Founding President of Inspiring Dreams Network, Corp, passionately working to build a system of school/community supports for at-risk youth, working tirelessly on grant writing, partner and resource identification and more. In 2019 Dr. Brady also redesigned and is currently teaching the Career Development Course for Masters’ level counseling students at West Virginia University. Dr. Brady also on the state Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) Coalition, serving at the Awareness and Outreach Task Team Chair.

Listen to the podcast above, or read below for the full inspirational interview between Jeremy and Dr. Brady.

Jeremy Turner, Founder and Managing Director of EPIC Mission:

Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Heroes of Change podcast from EPIC Mission. This is Jeremy Turner, founder and managing director of EPIC Mission and I’ll be your host here on the podcast. We are highlighting the trials, victories, and applied wisdom of our community change agents, unsung heroes, those who empower them be the change across Appalachia and beyond. We seek to inspire and equip everyday heroes just like you to take on our greatest challenges because together, we are the change. 

Today on this episode, it is my pleasure to welcome Dr. Barbara Brady to the show. Dr. Brady holds a PhD in leadership in education administration, a master’s in school counseling, and certifications in superintendent, supervisor, general instruction, principal, marriage, couples, family therapy, and as a licensed professional counselor, She has over 30 years experience building student support systems and public schools. Dr. Brady is also a certified youth mental health first aid trainer and is certified connections matter trainer.

Dr. Brady served as a counselor for nearly 25 years, then as the West Virginia Department of Education coordinator for school counseling and the expanded school mental health lead for 10 years developing inaugural school counseling performance standards, state model, and in the line standards-based evaluation system. Retiring from the Department of Ed in 2017, she provides ongoing training and technical systems to schools through her business, Learning and Support Consulting, LLC. She also provides consulting services for Marshall University School of Health, developing resources for expanded school mental health, and provides web-based therapy to youth and families through better help while serving also as the founding president of Inspiring Dreams Network Corporation, passionately working to build a system of school and community supports for at-risk youth. 

So you’ve got a lot going on. You’ve got a very rich work history and really cool experiences. We surely want to dig into that more today, but for a moment, let’s go beyond the bio because we all have one. What else should listeners know about you and the work that you do? And again, welcome to the show.

Barbara Brady, Founder of Inspiring Dreams Network Corporation 

Thank you, Jeremy. Well I guess, you know, most people who know me would say that I take everything I do very seriously. I try to go above and beyond and be the role model and person that I would want my youth to have; I’m very passionate about youth. You know, when I was a high school counselor, I would hear all the time, “that’s not how we do it around here.” And I would say, “oh, well this is how I’m going to do it because it’s what is in the best interest of the kids.” So I just started my career building a system of support for students in the school system and I guess I took kind of the easy route because I had a guaranteed paycheck, and as I moved along, of course I wanted to stay in the system until I retired and I felt like I was making a lot of difference, so moving from hands-on work with kids to empowering others to be the best that they could be. So, that’s why I moved to the state department so we could. Fortunately, or unfortunately, our schools are driven by policies, protocol, and that kind of thing. There were really no school policies – school counseling policies. We had a state code that was very vague. I wanted to empower school counselors to be the kind of counselor that I was; to have the resources that they needed to really dig down and support youth. Just building that system. Then once I spent 10 years, as you mentioned at the State Department of Education working really hard with other stakeholders who were just as passionate as I am about building a good system of support for students in schools.

And so those components are there, so now it’s up to the State Department of Education and the schools to hold schools accountable for those types of things. But one thing that I noticed when I was working in schools and at the State Department was that we could do all the work that we could with students at schools and they were not receiving that same kind of support at home. In a lot of communities, for a lot of youth, there just was not a good system of community support. So when I retired, I just wanted to turn my energy towards building a system that would support the school system.

Jeremy Turner:

Excellent. Talk a little bit about Inspiring Dreams Network. Share a little bit more about what it is that you’re doing there and some of your vision for the future; what that looks like.

Barbara Brady: 

Well, Inspiring Dreams Network -building that system of community support is something that I’ve always been really interested in doing and I’ve had lots of conversations with lots of professionals about if students only had community support or if they had family, how much more empowered they could be. So, just continually having those conversations, and one day I had a conversation with someone who’s still working in the school system who has lived in multiple states and she was saying, “you know, youth in West Virginia just do not have the system of support that they do in other states.” And so she was talking to her superintendent and her superintendent said, “well, you should reach out to Dr. Barb Brady – she’s really passionate. And so she did; she reached out to me and we had a conversation and we’re just like, we need to do something about this. And so then I talked to some of my other professional colleagues and they’re like, “this is a need we need to create, not just loose, woven. You know, there are all kinds of systems and communities for kids or Scouts. There’s 4H, there’s some communities, sports leagues, but there’s no connecting forces. There’s no standardized training. These volunteers are not really trained on how to connect with the school system, how to support at-risk youth. And we’re like, “we have the skills, we have the knowledge, we’re going to make that happen.” And so we just stepped out on a limb and in fire and formed Inspiring Dreams Network.

Jeremy Turner: 

Love it. And yeah, you and I obviously have talked about Inspiring Dreams a bit and the need to create some cohesion among these seemingly, or not seemingly, but very disconnected resources in the community. And so, I love the work that you’re doing. 

The work that you’re doing though, it’s not easy. I think unfortunately many times, media or in  society, or whatever paints this picture that all you have to do is have an idea and then you just go do it, and I’m not sure that that’s entirely accurate. And unfortunately, I think that oftentimes we do people a disservice by pushing that narrative that all you have to do is go and pursue your dreams and everything is going to fall in line for you. I found that the inspiration is really key; finding something or someone that inspires you, some purpose beyond yourself to go do this thing. So, I’d really love to know who inspired you growing up and talk about that. What did that mean to you? Who was that and how did they inspire you?

Barbara Brady:

Well, as with most youth, I think with many youth, they’re inspired by someone in the school system. I was inspired; I was blessed to have good teachers, attended a small school, and I think I always felt like my teachers believed in me; I think that was a critical component. But then when I started high school, I developed a relationship with my economics teacher, Mrs. Scoonover and I just felt like I was the best thing since sliced bread. I was extremely shy. I grew up in a family with 10 children. I had very little opportunity for social connections; my connections were basically church. You know, we had our church family and then my school group, and I had a very small group of girls that, we were friends basically through elementary school, high school, and I hung out with them. They were my confidant and my best friend and I didn’t really reach a lot beyond that – I was extremely shy, so my home economics teacher encouraged me to become part of, I think clubs and organizational leadership is critical and school’s extracurricular activities, she encouraged me to be part of the Future Homemakers of America and we made our own little mini dresses and got all dressed up. And she encouraged me to run for an officer, and I didn’t really see myself as being a leader. So she saw something in me that I did not see in myself. And so I started really my leadership in high school under her direction and she was always encouraging, always told me I could do it, always told me how smart I was. And so everyone needs something like that. So she was really my inspiration.

Jeremy Turner:

I love it. That’s so cool that, you know, now, just a few years later, you’re able to still reflect back so fondly and recall what it was like when someone else saw something in you that you didn’t really know existed and they helped foster this ability, this talent in you. I think that’s so amazing and really that’s something that in large part, I think that it’s one of the great things about our school systems. I have had the opportunity to be taught by some wonderful teachers. My dad is a retired professor of education, my wife is a teacher by training. So being around these wonderful educators, it’s an amazing thing. Thank you for sharing that story; I appreciate that. With taking on big challenges as you’re doing, as maybe some of our listeners are doing a mentorship is crucial as well. Spending time with other people and picking their brains or just even, even if it’s not from a business standpoint, but just, you know, getting away and hanging out and maybe getting away from whatever thing it is that we’re working on at the moment, just to sort of marinade on life. So, you know, with that thought in mind, who would you most like to go spend a day with, and they could be living or dead, and why would you like to spend a day with this person?

Barbara Brady: 

Well that’s easy for me. I mean, I have a huge admiration for Oprah Winfrey. I used to watch all of her shows. It was like a must;  I must get there in time. And initially that was before we had the opportunities, technology that we have now to record everything. But I felt like she really dug deep into people’s souls. I felt like she was very inspirational and still is very inspirational. She’s overcome her own barriers and she is willing to admit that, you know, none of us are perfect. We’ve all made mistakes. She did not come from the best background, but she was resilient. She took her life as it was and turned it into greatness and turned it into inspiring other people, too. I would love to just hang out with her, have a conversation, get to know her more, like her real story, which I’ve heard bits and pieces of.

Speaker 1:

Well, Oprah, if you’re listening or if one of Oprah’s people happens to be listening, let’s see if they can make that happen. That’ll be amazing. Oprah does have a terrific story. And you know, I think as well, there are wonderful examples out there in the world of people who have overcome some really less than ideal situations, and sometimes just traumatic experiences to go on and do some pretty amazing things. So for anyone who isn’t familiar with Oprah’s story,, go check that out. I think you’ll be quite amazed with that. 

Your journey is ongoing. We talked a little bit about some of the things that you’ve done up to this point and now with Inspiring Dreams, we’re talking about what’s happening or what you hope to happen over this next chapter, but in your journey, and it could be your entire life journey or a chapter of your journey, but is there someone that you can point to that’s really been a tremendous help to you along the way?

Barbara Brady:

I just think I’ve had lots of folks who have played a pivotal role in my life. I remember when I first started at the State Department of Education, my first boss was Mr. James Carter, and he was kind of a Mrs. Scoonover. He believed deeply in me and was very supportive of me and would tell me weekly, if almost daily, how proud of the work that I was doing and he’s written some really nice letters of recommendation. Just telling me that, that I’m more than who I know I am. And I think that’s the message with Inspiring Dreams Network, we want everyone to know that they’re more than who they know they are, that it’s a growth model. But back to Mr. Carter, I did not have my PhD when I started at the State Department of Education; he called me Dr. Brady and he kept saying, “you need to get your PhD.” He would come in, you know, kind of frequently, “have you started on that PhD?” And so he was kind of my inspiration, although I had it within me since I grew up in poverty and it was something I wanted to do for myself more so than for the position, just overcoming poverty. But I think he was that key, to unlock that door,  and just finally I was like, “okay, I’m going to do this.” And I did.

Jeremy Turner:

Love it. I heard this in what you were saying and I hear this a lot. How as different chapters of our lives unfold, different chapters of our journey, we have different people that are there. Absolutely, nothing wrong with that. There’s everything right with that, right? So I think the challenge would be how can we be that person for other people as well if we, those of us who were on the podcast or listening to podcasts, if we’ve had the great fortune of having someone who was interested in us, how can we then be that for someone else? It’s a pay it forward piece.

Barbara Brady:

Well, I think that many people want to be that person, but they don’t know how. And of course, one of our goals through Inspiring Dreams Network is to give people opportunities to be that person, to be that mentor for you. There are so many at-risk youth and at-risk in a variety of ways. Everybody needs someone, and so part of our goal is to, you know, educate the community in general about opportunities that already exist for them to volunteer. And sometimes, professionals or anyone, are kind of hesitant to do that because they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know how to support you. So it’s kind of a scary thing. Like, “okay, what am I getting myself into here?: And so one of our goals is to create a training system and a resource system for volunteers. So reaching out to existing you know, Boy Scouts, we had Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Girl Scouts, 4H, being a volunteer through your faith-based organization, starting your own club, that’s a hobby. One of the things that we’re excited about is that all of our grants are going to require background checks for our volunteers; we want to make sure that the volunteers that work with youth are safe. We want to provide funding for that to give parents and youth that security of knowing that these folks are safe. And so some of them might be kind of scared to step out, like if they’re into archery, and they love archery, so they have the ability to form an archery club, but they might be like, okay, just want to trust me. And so we could support them in getting a background check so that the families know this is not a sex offender.

Jeremy Turner: 

It’s terribly important to have that safety aspect. I mean, yeah, I think it was yesterday I heard on the news a big deal about Boy Scouts of America are filing for bankruptcy due to all these sexual abuse claims. You wouldn’t think, unless you know the story, wouldn’t normally say, okay, Boy Scouts that’s got to be a hotbed for you know, sexual abuse of young people. Unfortunately, that’s part of what the organization is being known for now. And it’s a shame and you know, had perhaps some of these background checks or some of these other protocols been in place, maybe there wouldn’t be as many or perhaps maybe even none of these terrible experiences that young people have now had to live through it.

Barbara Brady:

Absolutely. And so that’s part of our goal with Inspiring Dreams Network. It’s not only to ensure safety, but also to ensure that volunteers have the skills that they need to understand the developmental stages of youth; to understand how to recognize that a student might have a mental health issue, to recognize protocols, Title Nine, sexual harassment, um, harassment-type things, bullying; how to keep that from happening with the youth that they’re working with. So yeah, that whole safety, and that is something that’s missing right now. There is not a required training protocol or program, so to speak, across these groups. Girl Scouts, Boy Scotts, 4H, there are some training components, but it’s not to the level that needs to be happening to really support these volunteers in being the connection or being that inspiration to youth that they need to be.

Jeremy Turner:

Well, it sounds like you’ve identified a need and you’re working hard to solve that need. And I think that’s terrific, and that’s really what, you know, as I talk about Heroes of Change, that’s what I see out of the world where people that just recognize things and then go handle them. But I’d like to know from you when you hear that phrase and you’ve heard me use it a number of times and use it, it’s the title of this podcast. When you hear the phrase Hero of Change, what does that mean to you and how do you seek to live that out in your daily life?

Barbara Bailey:

For me, a Hero of Change is someone who doesn’t accept the status quo, who doesn’t say,
“well, that’s just the way it’s always been.” A Hero of Change believes that they can make a difference. And I know that it’s going to be a struggle. It’s going to be hard and you’re going to have both to see themselves as your competitor. And you’re going to have to figure out, “how do I turn their thinking around?” to “I can be a collaborator. We’re all in this together.” So to me, a Hero of Change stops the competition and ensures collaboration towards the same end.

Jeremy Turner:

That’s great. There is so much of that and you know, some of it’s inadvertent, some of it is this belief that organizations are competing over a very, very small pool of money or whatever. It’s a myriad of things, but it does take someone who’s willing to say, “enough, we’ve got young people who are in bad shape and they need our help; can we just get out of the way?” And if we just set the egos and the nonsense aside. I think it was Ronald Reagan that said something to the effect of “there’s no limit to how much good can be done if we aren’t worried about who gets credit.”

Barbara Brady:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And there’s enough work to go around.

Jeremy Turner:

It’s the unfortunate thing. There is so much work to be done and yet, sometimes people want to just kind of grasp on and say, “well, this is my thing” and they don’t really want to play well.

Barbara Brady:

Yeah. So, “how can I support what you’re doing? How can I help make it better? How can you support what we’re doing? How can you help make what we’re doing better?”

Jeremy Turner:

Right?

Barbara Brady:

And so if I have tunnel vision and believe that I’m the only one who has the answer and I go forward, then I’m probably not going to get the change that needs to happen. Because true change is about changing how a community functions or how society functions. It’s hard work. It’s not easy.

Jeremy Turner:

True. If it were easy, someone would’ve done it by now. Let’s fast forward years into the future, and you’re looking back over all this work that you’ve done in your life, in general or in specific with Inspiring Dreams. What sort of legacy do you want to leave behind, and talk about being a Hero of Change. What is the change that you’re fighting for? What legacy do you want to leave behind and what change are you fighting for?

Barbara Brady:

My vision is that all youth will have protective factors for whatever it is that they’re dealing with. If they’re dealing with substance abuse in their home, if they’re dealing domestic violence, if they’re dealing with just not having an adult support system to help them with their homework, to navigate the school system, to understand policies, to have a vision of success. Like I mentioned earlier, Mrs. Scoonover saw me as a leader, which I did not see that in myself. So if the change that I want to see happened, every child would be able to see their maximum potential. They would see themselves as being able to succeed and thrive instead of being in survival mode, instead of just trying to survive each day and not knowing who to turn to, to get the support that they need, but they would know where to turn; that the community supports would be there. They would have a vision beyond the veil of poverty; poverty that they’ve grown up in, for instance, and they would know that they can be anything that they achieved to be, and they can make the world a better place.

Jeremy Turner:

Good. Helping young people move from surviving to thriving. So crucial. I mean, you and I both go into communities and we see just these faces of desperation and hopelessness and it’s a shame. It’s some of the most heartbreaking things. Things that I’ve seen are, you know, these young people who they have already given up, and they’re still tiny.

Barbara Brady:

Not only have they given up, but people have given up on them.

Jeremy Turner:

Right, yes. People have given up for them and on them.

Barbara Brady:

For them and on them. And so, to see the success that I want to see happen, they will always have someone in their corner. They will always have that Mrs. Scoonover or that Mr. Carter who believes in them and no matter how down on their luck they feel, how doomed they feel, there will be someone to say, “no, you’re better than that. I’ve got your back. We’re going to do this together. You’re a survivor.” And so the future that I see, people don’t give up on struggling youth.

Jeremy Turner:

That’s a future I definitely want to see. I look forward to experience in that with you. It’s going to be amazing and I have no doubt that you’re going to make a huge dent in that, you already are. So thank you for everything that you’re doing. The work continues, right? And it’s hard and you know, in the work that you do and have done professionally as a counselor and then in the work that you’re doing now with Inspiring Dreams, when you were hearing stories of other people’s lives and they’re talking about these adverse situations and such, this can be hard on you, right? So, self-care is extremely important. Where do you go to rest and relax and get reinvigorated? What does that look like for you? How do you get away from everything and recharge your batteries?

Barbara Brady:

I think self-care has to be intentional. As you know, one of the other aspects of my life is doing web-based therapy. It will be just like us sitting here chatting live. I’m always listening to the burdens of others and so I’m teaching them about self-care because usually people who are struggling with mental health issues are not good at self-care and that’s how they get to the place that they are. I have to kind of take my own medicine, and so for me, it’s about, you have your priorities. So let’s imagine a glass jar that you can see through like a Mason jar. I have things that I have to do, that I’ve chosen to do. That’s part of my current life. So I do therapy; those are rocks in my day. I work on moving Inspiring Dreams Network forward. I do youth mental health first aid training. I’m part of the ACEs coalition. Those are all rocks. And so what I have to remember is I can’t give my best to those organizations if I don’t do self-care. I have to chunk out time in my day, so those have to be rocks in my day. For me, getting up and working out, spending time with my grandchildren, going on vacation, I have a personal life. You can’t be a good leader if you don’t have good self-care, I don’t take care of myself. So I just make it part of my daily routine, always plan vacations, always plan family time. So those are two part of the big rocks of what I do.

Jeremy Turner:

Good. I love the intentionality around it. So many times the people I meet that are out caring for everyone else, they’ll say, “well, I’ll get to that.” Or, “I just got to take care of this one more thing and this one more person.” And I heard it expressed once that you can’t pour into others if you’re pitcher is empty. Right?

Barbara Brady:

Absolutely. And that’s why the pilots, you know, airline, I want to say airline stewardess, but I’m dating myself. The flight attendant say, “put your own oxygen mask on first.” And I’m glad that you mentioned self-care because it is vital for every leader to have self-care so that you can give your best self to those you’re working with.

Jeremy Turner:

Indeed. And yeah, I find that self-care is so important, as you said, for any leader, any organization for-profit, nonprofit, secular, it doesn’t matter, big, small. If you’re out there and you’re doing work and you’re working hard to serve yourself, or serve others or to capture some vision that you have for the future, you’ve got to step away and do something to reinvigorate and recharge or else you’ll have nothing left to and everything will come to a screeching halt at a time that you did not choose. 

Barbara Brady:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Jeremy Turner:

Yeah. So you mentioned a little bit about this earlier. You were talking about growing up in poverty. Talk a little bit about where you grew up and how you grew up and how that’s shaped you. How that, in reflection, that’s made you who you are today.

Barbara Brady:

I grew up in West Virginia. I’ve lived in West Virginia my entire life. I’ve traveled all over the world; I love traveling. I love having different experiences, but I always love coming back to West Virginia. West Virginia has a lot of strong family values and yeah, I grew up in a large family. 10 kids, five boys, five girls in Clay County in a holler, no other house in sight. So we played outside all summer. We didn’t have all these media toys and all of that kind of thing. I spent summers going to my grandparent’s farm, they had a 200-acre farm and we would chase down baby calves and lambs. I’m very much an outdoor person. So I enjoy the outdoors, but because we grew up in such a large family, we didn’t have a lot of opportunity.

Our social engagement was with each other. And as I said earlier, at church, I went to church every Wednesday night, Saturday night, Sunday morning until we had that church family. Neither one of my parents ever drove; they didn’t have their driver’s license. They each had a sixth grade education. They had to quit and help take care of the kids and work on the farm. And I mentioned earlier that part of the reason I wanted to get a PhD was because I had the opportunity and my mom continually said that she wished she could’ve gotten more education and so that also was part of my inspiration, wanting to do something that they did not have the opportunity to do. But because neither one of them ever drove, we didn’t have, as I said earlier, a lot of opportunity to do things. We didn’t do family vacations, we had to take turns. My parents had to hire someone in a pickup truck to take them to the store once a month and we got to go when it was our turn. So every 10 times. So basically once a year. And growing in the holler, I kind of felt stuck because I couldn’t always go and do what I wanted to do. And I think part of what inspired me, literally being stuck in the mud in a pickup truck, trying to go to the grocery store and we couldn’t go because the road was bad and it was muddy. And I think part of that growing up in poverty was like wanting a better life. I wanted the family life, but I didn’t want to feel stuck. 

I don’t want kids to feel stuck. I want kids to know that there are lots of opportunities for them. If I can do it, being extremely shy, hiding behind my mom when I was in high school when she talked to a stranger or if people came to our house hiding in the closet, they caught up with my heart racing because I was scared to come out. And so, lots of kids have lots of fears. Young people have lots of fears. And so what I want to say is I overcame my fears and I believe that we have the right people on the bus in our organization to help lots of kids and families overcome their fears and help their kids or today’s youth live happy, productive lives.

Jeremy Turner:

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the people on your bus and that’s definitely a bus I’d like to ride on. You’ve got some really amazing people there and it’s super cool. I love it. And I’m excited for the future of what Inspiring Dreams Network is going to be doing. It’s good. I love it. So yeah, you’re talking about at-risk youth, why should people care about the work that you do and the population that you serve? Why should people care about at risk youth?

Barbara Brady:

Well, I think one thing that we need to keep in mind is that our youth represent a future we will never see. And so, our youth are the ones who will create tomorrow. And if we don’t empower them to be their best, then what’s tomorrow going to look like? And so by supporting you, we’re building a positive, prosperous future we won’t see yet, but our children, our grandchildren, their children. So by supporting today’s youth, we’re impacting youth for generations to come and society for generations to come.

Jeremy Turner:

Very cool. So that’s part of the legacy, right? Impacting generations that you’ll never get to meet and people that you’ll never get to meet.

Barbara Brady:

Absolutely.

Jeremy Turner:

So, you’re someone that had a very long professional career. I mean, it’s still going in your private practice there, but you’re also someone that recognized a need and said, “I can’t sit here and stand idly by.” Why is it so important that everyday heroes and that’s really the focus of this, this is not a, you know, I’ve been to Silicon Valley, I’ve met some wonderful people there. I’ve been to other places. This is really about everyday people like you and I, why is it so important everyday heroes like you answer the call and to get up and go and be the change?

Barbara Brady:

Well, I look at my own life. We were talking about my childhood. Out of 10 children, I think four of us graduated from high school. A couple of my sisters have associate degrees, are very hard workers, are wonderful people, and are doing fairly well. The most important thing is that they’re happy. But then I have other siblings who have taken a different road. Some substance abuse, unemployment, just again that daily struggle, struggling to survive. Had they had more inspiration, had they had more support like I did when they were growing up, they could be living a different life and it kind of breaks my heart. You know, when you have people that you love and you see them struggling because of their choices, and sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know and they don’t know how to move from where they are to where they want to go. 

So ordinary people see ourselves as ordinary and we are, but they see us as role models as wanting to live the life that we’re living. And oftentimes you just think that somehow people magically got to be who they are or where they are and they don’t understand how to get there. And so anyone with our resources, with our training and resources can take these youth by the hand. They’ll have the skills, the knowledge that they need to help lead them to a better path. So anyone can do that. We’re going to empower them with the tools that they need.

Jeremy Turner:

Great. There’s people that are always watching. I think that it’s something that I forget. Now I have an eight-month-old and I have to be very aware that he’s watching. He’s always watching. He’s always listening. And beyond that, I mean, people out in the community are always looking outside of themselves and seeing what others are doing, so being a proper role model I think is crucial. Yourself and other Heroes of Change out there, taking that responsibility very seriously and understanding that there are people watching that are in desperate need of role models and that being a role model doesn’t mean that you’re perfect.

Barbara Brady:

Absolutely not. In fact, some of the best role models are people who have overcome, struggled themselves.

Jeremy Turner:

Indeed. I say this quite a lot in the addiction recovery space. If people who have gone through terrible chapters of their lives have turned over a new leaf, gone through recovery programs and now they’re leading large groups of people to recovery, and it’s one of the spaces I see there quite a lot. So as we moved towards wrapping up here today, first I appreciate your time and I appreciate the journey you’re on, what you’re doing. It’s great. I love it. Any sort of last words, final words of wisdom or words of encouragement for our listeners? Someone who’s out there that maybe they have an idea about something they’ve identified, something that’s really driving them nuts, that’s bugging them about the world around them and they think that they want to go and be the change or you know, someone who maybe they’re already on a journey and it’s kind of rough right now. Do you have any words of wisdom or encouragement for other Heroes of Change out there?

Barbara Brady:

I think if they’re struggling themselves, reach out for the support that you need. If we were intended to go our journey alone, then we wouldn’t have this diverse population and all these people surrounding us. So, don’t be ashamed or afraid to reach out for support if you need support. There’s always someone out there who’s willing to support and help, give a leg up. For those who have an idea, find people with a common vision, I don’t feel like this is something that I can do alone. 

Starting a nonprofit is not easy, it requires funding. So we’re constantly  looking for funders. So if you have funding and you have a vision and you feel like I don’t really, you know, I’m not the type of person, to really do the work, but find a cause that you’re passionate about and give financial aid to it. If you can do that, there are lots of nonprofits. So find a nonprofit that has the same vision and goals that you do, contribute to it. I mean, if every West Virginian contributed a dollar to Inspiring Dreams Network, we would be in really good financial shape. So, you know, contributing small amounts, large amounts, or saying I see a need, join the West Virginia Nonprofit Association. They have all kinds of great resources. They have to figure out how to start a nonprofit. Who to collaborate with, who to engage with. I think collaboration is, I keep talking about collaboration; collaboration, is that the key. So finding someone that you can collaborate with, contribute to financial aid, or join forces with to create the change that you want to see happen.

Jeremy Turner

That’s great advice. Collaboration. We don’t have enough of it and we can’t have too much of it. So

Barbara Brady:

Absolutely. And funding!

Jeremy Turner:

I’ve met a lot of nonprofits through the years and I’ve never met one that said they had plenty of money; money they needed. So, final question is, if someone wants to learn more about you and the work that you’re doing with Inspiring Dreams Network or come alongside you and join you in some fashion, how can they learn more about Inspiring Dreams Network?

Barbara Brady:

Well, we have a website, which we’re updating. It is inspiringdreamsnetwork.org. You can go online and learn more about our organization. We’re in the process of recruiting new board members, we’ve developed an application. We’re very selective about who we want on our board to bring our vision along, but we’re getting ready to create a button on our website that will lead you to the application. You could actually apply to be a member of our board. We have various committees. If you’re interested, if you have a volunteer organization and you would like us to help with training, you can reach out to us through our website or you can email me at D-R-B-A-R-B-B-R-A-D-Y at Gmail dot come. That’s drbarbbrady@gmail.com. If you have resources that you want to share on our resource portals for youth or volunteers, contact me through email. There is also a contact us button on our website so you can reach out to us that way.

Jeremy Turner:

That’s great. And so we’ll be sharing your contact information as we publish this episode. And for those that are listening, if something that Barb talked about today with regards to Inspiring Dreams Network, if something resonated with you, then I encourage you to reach out. It’s a wonderful group of human beings that are out doing terrific work. So, please reach out. With that, we’re nearing a close. That’s all we have for this episode of the Heroes of Change podcast from EPIC Mission. We hope that you’ve been inspired by something you heard today because together, we are the change. Tune in next time as we dig into the story of another hero and learn what they do, how they do it, and most importantly, why they do what they do. So in the meantime, take care and we’ll look forward to seeing you next time on the Heroes of Change podcast.