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Exploring Life & Business with Patrick Giblin of Big Josh Foundation

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patrick Giblin.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
We all know a bartender or a teacher or a freelance web designer or an Uber Driver or a Yoga Instructor. More than 70% of Americans work in the service industry or are employed as contractors or freelancers. People employed without a strong benefits package or company backbone can’t afford to miss a paycheck. But if they’re diagnosed with a terminal illness, work comes to a screeching halt. That’s where Big Josh Foundation steps in. We cover co-pays and day-to-day expenses so that people battling terminal illnesses can carry on and fight—so they can devote their precious time to friends and loved ones. BJF is focused on providing financial support and counseling to people diagnosed as terminally ill.

Josh started working as a Bar Back when he was 20 years old. He spent the next two decades working long hours as a doorman, security guard, bartender, and general manager. He carried himself with style, charm, and grace.

One day, a pain in his eye brought him to his knees. He dismissed it as a migraine. When the pain returned, he reluctantly went to the Emergency Room. Hours later he was checked into Oncology. It wasn’t a migraine at all. Josh was diagnosed with Terminal Stage 4 Non-Smoking Lung Cancer.

Josh lost the energy to work while he battled cancer. His paychecks stopped coming in. His disability package wasn’t enough to support his family. He needed help. Josh was patient zero of the Big Josh Foundation.

We have since helped 4 other families within the San Diego Region. We know the universe of people in need is much greater than we have touched thus far. We have focused on learning from every patient and their loved ones. We now have a deeper understanding of different dynamics and types of patients. Our four patients are all different.

Josh and Katie Patient 0 – Married. No Kids. Both in Service Industry.

Patient 1 – Mother of 4 children all under 15. Married. Husband works for a corporation.
Patient 2 – Single. Living with significant other. No Kids. Both in the Service Industry.
Patient 3 – Mother of 2 Kids in High School. Married. Husband works in Service Industry.

Each experience brought new costs, challenges and understandings. It also allowed for the Big Josh Foundation to be exposed to more people in the current “gig-economy” that were friends and supports of these Patients. We have shared that this is a situation that we know exposes so many people in today’s “new economy”. The past year of hardships brought on by the harms caused by COVID also increased the awareness to how poor the general health care system is for the general population. The costs associated with this are extreme and daunting.

We have now began to grow outside of hand to hand fundraising as we look to move towards Corporate Partnerships and ways for us to give back through these Partnerships. We are reaching out to some of the most recognized brands and also some others looking to be recognized as a good Partner to those inside of this massive community of people in need.

We just hosted our First Annual Big Josh Foundation Gala and it was at this event that CaliFino Tequila unveiled their new Big Josh Tequila called “Finito” which means “The Finest” in Spanish. CaliFino has created this special label tequila to give back to Big Josh Foundation on every bottle it sell in Commercial and Retail. These kinds of Partnerships are what will take this Foundation into new frontiers. This is to be a National branding campaign for both parties. We realize this will expose us to great reach across the Nation but we feel it will give us the resources to be able to help more people. We are excited for this new venture and the others that we are in the midst of trying to put together.

Some other Partners that are looking to create similar programs are; Ballast Point Brewing Company, Tito’s Vodka, Heaven Hills Spirits and we recently reached out to Cafe Moto Coffee. We want diversity in our partnerships that helps all sides with a gifting to the people that service and consume their products. On our radar are some of the biggest gig economy players such as Uber and Lyft.

We also want to recognize the smaller local businesses that have consistently given through their own donation opportunities within their menus. Since the beginning of the Big Josh Foundation many San Diego local businesses created menu items that gave a percentage of sales back to BJF. The Shore Club has had “Big Josh Nachos” for years and send us checks every month for support. Dirty Birds has “Big Josh Wings” and sends us checks every month. Right now Cutwater Spirits is doing “Big Josh Cocktail” which starts January 1, 2022 and runs through March 31, 2022. Rise and Shine created ‘Big Josh Breakfast Burrito’. Sandbox Pizza did a ‘Big Josh Pizza’. Each of these local partners creates opportunities for Big Josh Foundation. We are forever grateful to those that have given for a period of time and those that continue to give.

We have also been fortunate to have “monthly donors” that are individuals that give every month to BJF. This can be as little as $5 or as much as hundreds of dollars. These dollars from individuals are not only useful they are inspiring. When we see individual people giving monthly of their own resources it inspires us to work harder and to do more. We know how difficult times are for almost everyone nowadays and to have people give towards our patients means we have to step up and make the most of every dollar received. We appreciate every step made by every person, venue and corporation working with us. It takes a “community” to support this. It takes continued faith and awareness of our mission to carry on doing what we do.

We have a lot of work ahead of us to do but the future is much bigger than the past. We will need help from many companies, venues and people to attempt to try and offset this gap in our health system and economy as it is being curated today. If there are any companies, venues or people that feel they want to be a part of gifting back to us we are ready and wanting to listen. We can only survive and thrive with the help of Partners.

We are also very proud to share that we are all volunteers within Big Josh Foundation. No one collects a salary and thus 90%+ of every dollar goes to the Patients. We do have some overhead but we always look to keep it as low as possible. As we expand we recognize that we will need to bring on people full time to manage operations and all elements of the business but we will always look to maintain and 90/10 ratio for donations received. Every dollar given counts. Thank you for helping us help others.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Overall, we have been able to learn and grow without too much pain. To be honest, the greatest pain and struggle has been knowing how many other people are out there in need of our help that we cannot help as of yet because or resources.

We have also been very lucky to have an army of volunteers that we call Ambassadors that continue to show up to make sure events run smoothly and that Word Of Mouth marketing continues to work and have meaning.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
I believe we already gave an overview of the Big Josh Foundation Mission Statement and what makes us unique and special. It is a huge universe of people that are in potential danger without our help. Every time I see a soccer coach, I think of how important our work is. Every time I see a lawyer’s office with only a few people involved, I think of how important our work is. Every time I see a local General Contractor, I think of how important our work is. Every time I see an independent Mental Health Therapist, I think of how important our work is. Every time I see a start up company, I think of how important our work is. Every time I see a freelance reporter or photographer, I think of how important our work is.

It makes us all very proud to take care of the little people. The too often forgotten people are our people. Those without a big corporation and big benefits for Long Term Disability and better health care, or any health care for that matter are the people we are going to do our best to help.

Part of our struggle is in the definition of who we can help. We help only those that are diagnosed and recognized as “terminal”. many times people reach out to us when hardship arises and they want our help while they try to discover remedy or to get back on their feet. There are many non-profits that can assist in this capacity but this is not us. it is hard for us to now help every person that reaches us. When we are not a fit we do try and find ways to support and find the fit that fits their needs.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
We have learned that we cannot be everything to everyone. We cannot fix every problem but we can make sure that we do our best to address those problems for those that we can help. We learned that we cannot do this on our own. We learned that we need bigger backers and corporations to reach a level that will allow us to do more good for more people in more places. We learn, that we have a lot to learn.

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Image Credits
John Cocozza Photography

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