Shipt From a Shopper’s Perspective

Have you wondered what the hype over Shipt is about? Well I’m here as a shopper to explain why I think it’s a great service for members.

#1- The current state of the world. Need I say it- Coronavirus. Many people are opting to stay at home and let someone else do the shopping right now. This is especially good for families with small children and for the immunocompromised.

#2- Time. Save yourself some time and let someone else deal with traffic and shopping. You just continue doing more important things while someone who is an expert at shopping your chosen store moves quickly through the aisles and finds exactly what you need and then delivers it to your home. How convenient for those who are on tight schedules, busy running kids to events, or running their own business. Hey, if my business wasn’t shopping for others I would have someone shop for me and many shoppers actually use the service themselves.

#3- Shipt is perfect for those who need some extra help- the elderly, disabled, sick, injured or healing. If it is difficult to get out and shop you can have someone do the work for you. 

#4- It allows you to take care of others. I have shopped for a man’s elderly mother, brought a birthday meal to a daughter living in another state, delivered a care package for a sick child and brought essentials to college students and people living in retirement homes. It is easy to send gifts and supplies for any occasion. As a shopper I love helping you surprise someone. 

#5- You are supporting a small business when you shop. Shoppers are contractors working for Shipt. Some of us work part time as a way to help out with household expenses and for some of us shopping is our sole income. I am a newly single mother and shopping for Shipt offers me the flexibility in my daily schedule to care for my children while providing for them. 

#6- Shipt offers a full service personal shopping experience for members. Your shopper works hard to “Bring the magic” by going above and beyond while communicating in a friendly manner via text, or phone to bring you exactly what you need. You can order from your local major grocery stores, Target, Food service stores, CVS, Office Depot/Office Max, even Petco, Sur la table and Costco.

#7- Safety. All shoppers undergo background checks and have to carry insurance on their vehicles. Shipt looks out for your safety and the safety of their shoppers. Customer service and shopper help is just a text, chat or phone call away for members and shoppers.

#8- Precise. You will get exactly what you ordered down to the ounce, flavor and brand. If an item is out of stock you can choose a replacement or allow your shopper to use her best judgement. This is an excellent feature for those who have food allergies or just want to know they will get their favorite product. I have even read labels for a member who was gluten free to ensure if a suggested substitution would be safe so we could choose the right product for her.

So now that you are interested you are probably wondering how Shipt works. It’s pretty simple. You place your order through the app or online. A shopper sees your order in the shopper app, accepts it, drives to the store, shops your order and then delivers to your home. You will receive a text from your shopper letting you know she has started your order and she will guide you through the process of choosing substitutions for any out of stock products and will stay in communication with you until your order has been delivered. You can text her for up to an hour after your order has been delivered if you have any questions or just want to say “thanks”. You can ask her to add products to your order and request things that were not listed on the shopping site or app. You can also speak on the phone and your shopper may call if she has substitutions to go over or GPS is not giving her good enough directions to your home or business. 

As a shopper I think Shipt is a wonderful service and wish everyone could try it out. What’s not to love about staying in the comfort of your home or working on a project while someone else takes care of the shopping and delivery of everything you need for your day or week? Let us bring you those movie night snacks, dinner ingredients, or take care of your Target run. We are quick and efficient and love the challenge of shopping your order and bringing the magic.

SkillUP to Max Out SNAP Benefits

Are you receiving SNAP benefits? If so, you may be eligible for the SkilUp program which can help you go back to school or train for a career. The program covered the fees for dental assisting school tuition, books, scrubs, a background check and application fees so I could receive the training I needed to be certified as a dental assistant and begin looking for a career instead of a job to support myself while being divorced by my husband. I was suddenly hit with divorce papers after fleeing an abusive situation and spending 27 years as a homemaker and homeschool mom. I didn’t know what I would do faced with the knowledge I would have to provide for myself after being unemployed for so long. I tried working in a factory and quickly realized that was not the right job for me physically or intellectually and began to look for better opportunities.

I heard a presentation about the SkillUp program given by a career navigator at the domestic violence shelter where I lived. At first I wanted to work from home so I could continue homeschooling the children so she helped me research courses in medical billing and writing. I learned about dental assisting as a career and was taken with the idea of helping others and working in the healthcare field. I wanted to be employable as soon as possible so I enrolled in a 3 week course to become an RDA certified in CPR and radiology. I contacted my career coach anytime I had a question or concern and she quickly responded with the answers I needed. I had to pay for a few things myself but will be reimbursed for my expenses. I am still receiving assistance in the form of fuel cards to keep costs down while I continue my job search. I know my career coach will be in contact with me after I land a job and will help me any way she can.

Skillup is Tennessee’s version of SNAP E&T, a government funded program that provides the experience or work training you need to get a better job or start a new career. If you are receiving SNAP benefits, are willing and able to work and do not receive TANF families first cash assistance you most likely qualify. The program offers help with job training, going back to school or other courses which will train you for a career. 

How does SkillUp extend a lifeline to get you back on your feet? You are offered the training or classes you need to help you reach your employment goals. You can take a night or weekend class so you can continue to work and avoid incurring student debt that will burden you for years. You will gain confidence as you study and complete your schooling that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. You will have a career and not just a job, a career which you can build on through further education and work experience. The time you spend on your education now will be repaid in a higher wage later. The program coordinators treat you with respect and dignity and enjoy watching you become a success story. Your success is their success. 

When you enroll in SkillUp you will be assigned a career coach who will be with you throughout the process from thinking about what you want to train for to getting your first job in your new career field. One of your first steps will be talking with your coach about what you are interested in. Then you will be guided through the program enrollment process which includes an aptitude test to help you narrow down your interests and skills. Once you are ready to enroll in school or training you will receive help applying for aid and grants. Your coach will take care of payments to the school depending on what is covered by SkillUp. You can contact your coach with any questions or concerns and she will be there to help you work your way through paperwork, reimbursement requests, and provide supplies and a monthly gas card. She is your support person and is ready to help with any problems you encounter and cheer you on as you go through school and then graduate.

There are many support services available through the program. You will have your books, uniforms, testing fees and licensing fees covered by the program to minimize any out of pocket expenses which could be a barrier to continuing your education. These services are offered to ensure you will start your new career with the least amount of debt and the best chance of success. I was given a fifty dollar gas card per month and I have heard the program will help with child care and other benefits depending on your situation. You can check with your career navigator for further details. I have found that everything I needed to go to school and apply for my RDA license was covered or reimbursed, including a background check and application fees. 

SkillUp has given me many gifts in one of the most difficult times of my life. I have finished an intense educational program, earned my RDA certificate, and am now ready to join the workforce and provide a home for myself. I plan to continue my education and add expanded functions to my RDA certificate to increase my earning potential. I have the confidence that if I want to pursue a college education I can and will succeed in my chosen course of study. I have a career I am proud of that allows me to help others achieve better health. My life may look very different than it once was but it is getting better every day and having a great job in a growing field is one of the best things I could have done to change a dark time to light. I am grateful for the many opportunities I have received since I began asking for help and can’t wait to give back so others can receive the help they need to make a better life for themselves and their children. 


Top 5 Ways to Support Someone Escaping Domestic Violence

Did you know 1 in 3 women will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime? If you know a woman going through this struggle she would probably appreciate a non-judgmental friend who can be there to walk alongside her as she reclaims her life. The journey is not easy and leaving her abuser is just the first step in a long process to heal her heart, mind, and spirit. Don’t be surprised if she leaves only to go back again. It takes an average of 7 times to get out for good and those women who make it on the first try are rare indeed.

Here are the top 5 things, based on my own experience, a survivor needs to help her stay strong and rebuild her life: 

1- She needs a safe place to live. Domestic violence shelters are available all over the United States. You can help her find temporary housing to flee to by contacting her state’s Domestic Violence organization listed on Womenshealth.gov. A local organization can also provide her with window and door locks and a safety plan so she may be able to stay in her own home. 

2- She needs to talk about what she has gone through, her doubts and fears, and receive encouragement to help her stay strong and keep going forward. Reading articles and learning more about what a healthy relationship looks like will help her to realize she should be treated with love and respect. There are support groups available on Facebook through a quick search on your homepage. Here are a few of my favorite resources on relationships. 

The Power and Control Wheel is a wonderful tool to print out and review when doubts surface. 

The Healthy Relationship Wheel is also nice to have on hand.

3- At some point she may need to file for an order of protection or divorce. If she has left everything or her abuser controlled the finances she may need free or low-cost legal aid. You can start the search for representation at USA.gov/legal-aid.

4- The domestic violence hotline offers free counseling for women who are struggling through an abusive relationship or who are just beginning to suspect they are in an unhealthy relationship. The counselors can also help her find local help though shelters and counseling organizations. There are many resources available for those who are brave enough to ask for help. Here’s an article about the importance of counseling for survivors. 

5- She can keep an empowering playlist on her smartphone to play in those tough moments as she works on healing from trauma. You can make one for her or check out a couple I have found online. Sending her a song that made you think of her once in a while will help her know how much you are cheering for her and may be that one thing she needed to help her through a difficult day.

Empowerment Playlist

10 Inspiring Songs

Many women struggle in silence for years before reaching out for help. If you are privileged enough to be trusted with a friend’s journey back to health and safety I hope the resources I have shared will give you some ways to be there for her and inspire you with ideas of your own.

Growing and Using Nasturtium

When I was a girl my mother had a nasturtium vine growing over our garden fence which amazed me by how quickly it grew, adding lots of cheerful orange flowers to an otherwise boring space. I’ve been trying to recapture that childhood memory in my gardens ever since. Have you ever grown nasturtium plants?

There are two varieties of nasturtium, which is an annual.  One grows as a low mounding plant and the other is a vine.  I grow the mounding type but one day I hope to find seeds for the vine so I can grow them with my green beans.  To plant, push the seed, which looks like a peppercorn, about 1/2″ deep into the soil and water. Nasturtiums like heat so wait to plant well past your last frost date, in full sun.  I’ve had them grow in partial shade but they don’t do very well so plan to give this plant a sunny spot. This is a beautiful plant to use just about anywhere. I usually grow them in my vegetable garden and flower beds.  To save seeds to grow next year wait for the flowers to fall off, revealing a green lump of three seeds loosely connected. Once the seeds dry up they will fall from the stem and you can easily find them below your mama plant.   I tuck them away in a labeled envelope which is kept in a cool, dark spot(my pantry).

To use as an edible, pick flowers or leaves to add to your salad.  They have a peppery flavor so make sure you do a taste test first to gauge how much heat you want to add to your plate.  Here’s a recipe which sounds good if you want to try featuring nasturtium on your dinner menu.  Herbed Quinoa w/ Roasted Tomatoes & Nasturtium Salad  You can dry the seeds and then grind them as a pepper substitute or even pickle them while they are green to use like capers.  I found quite a few recipes when I did an internet search. We usually eat the flowers and leaves as a salad addition.

I have never used nasturtium as a natural remedy so I was surprised to learn it can help you fight off coughs, colds, flu and can be used as an antibiotic.  I did notice a warning that pregnant women or those trying to conceive should not eat nasturtium. Also, the link mentions that it can be used externally for hair loss(!), rashes, skin problems, and minor cuts and scratches.  Have you tried nasturtium as a health remedy? I think I might dry some leaves and flowers to keep on hand for winter colds.

Have you ever grown nasturtium?  I hope one day you will be able to enjoy their bright, cheerful flowers in your garden as much as I do.