Joseph’s Coat

Based on a vision rather than a business plan . . .

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I was recently elected to the Board of Joseph’s Coat in Columbus. It was somewhat of an unusual way. I created one blog on Midnight Oil about early morning in my local coffee house and provided some photos I took while writing some of the blog at the coffee house that morning. That evening, I posted the blog titled “My Cafe” at The next day, I received the following email note: 

“John – I feel compelled to write to you.  I am currently a board member for Joseph’s Coat of Central Ohio, Inc.  Joseph’s Coat is a free store on the eastside of Columbus.  We are seeking new board members and / or volunteers. I saw your recent post My Cafe and thought Joseph’s Coat needs your talent to help tell our story! In the next year or so, we hope to start a capital campaign to raise $3,000,000 to build a new building at a new location. Hopefully, you’re a spiritual person – as I feel that God is guiding us to the people needed to complete this very important work. I think you’re one of them. If you are interested, I’d be happy to give you a tour of the facility and share more about the mission of Joseph’s Coat.  You can also, check out our website Have a beautiful day. Kelly Ours, President Emeritus. Joseph’s Coat.”

It was the type of email you never get. An actual reaching out from another person who felt “compelled” to write me. My talent was needed to tell a story. Their story. Not my own story but another’s story. Can one make it past the ego to tell another’s story? The word that God was guiding the whole endeavor was one I might saturate with coincidence and synchronicity. Or, that Jungian type force that pulls things together at certain moments in life. But isn’t this God anyway? With a pull like gravity. Something in the air or the zeitgeist of the times. It was this reaching out from Kelly that got my interest. There was that desire and need to tell another story. Just like I had told the story in Spirit Catcher, my biography on John Coltrane. Or my later book Battle of Symbols about global symbols.

* * *

Soon, I was walking into a large warehouse building off the eastern part of the 270 outer belt ofColumbus. I walked into a type of storefront part of the building. It like entering a Goodwill store. Several families were going through clothing racks as their kids scrambled about between the clothing racks. 

Kelly was the first to meet me and said thanks so much for considering being on the board and coming down for the tour. I was curious about the organization and Kelly said she hoped they could provide a little information and “feel” for the organization by the tour. Kelly is the past president of the organization and she let me from the main storefront back to the office of Mike, the current president of Kelly’s Coats. Mike is a retired Colonel in the Army. We hit it off immediately. There was a naturalness and unpretentiousness about them. No fakeness. Just genuine people carrying on the work of an amazing woman named Joanne who founded the group in 1998. Carrying on her work not as one carries on the work of some founder of an ordinary company or business.

We talked in Mike’s office for maybe fifteen minutes and then they gave me a tour around the operations. We went through a room full of dresses in all types of sizes. People were in the racks, like workers in in a field on a farm, sorting and organizing the current “crop” of clothing. The next room was full of children’s things. The types of little items a boy or girl from 2 to 10 might like in their room, to become part of their life. Kid things their parents could never afford. There was also a books area and Kelly explained that this was a new area. We walked through a few other rooms full of coats and shoes and then we walked out into a large warehouse and receiving area where donations to Joseph’s Coat were coming in. It was a large warehouse area. Maybe a hundred feet by fifty feet. Maybe a little more. One the wall facing us was the loading docks where donations are off-loaded. Close to the loading dock is all the furniture as it makes sense it is here because of its weight and trouble moving it. There are no trucks at the dock today as Mike says they are all out picking up donations. A funny operation I think to myself. A normal corporation drops off products rather than picking up donations. But Joseph’s Coats was this rare type of corporation. 

* * *

Kelly and Mike show me around the big receiving warehouse of Joseph’s Coat. We meet several the volunteers in various areas of the warehouse that categories of dentations are sorted at. There is the furniture area. There are the clothing areas. And there is another area that includes everything else: the children’s toys and books; the raincoats for all the rainy days in Columbus. 

Then, they take me to meet the founder of Joseph’s Coat, Joanne. She is in her eighties but is still working hard sorting in one of the areas. Kelly introduces us. She asks Joanne to tell me a little about her story regarding the founding Joseph’s Coat. Joanne is a tall woman with a quiet yet strong presence. Kelly has told me about her, how important she is in the history of Joseph’s Coats, such an icon of stability, power, and passion. It all comes through in maybe five seconds after Joanne begins to tell me the vision that inspired her to create Joseph’s Coat. It wasn’t exactly the vision of someone like a Joseph Smith. But it was a vision. Heard on her car radio one morning in Columbus of the 90s. She told me the story of her founding Joseph’s Coat and I could see the fire of passion still burning in her old eyes. Like hot embers. So, few businesses, ventures, corporations founded with a vision like this today. 

I thanked Joanne for her story and gave her a hug as we walked on to other areas of the warehouse. It felt good to know that Joanne was still watching over her herd of sheep, so to speak. 

Out to California to see my grandsons from Germany, like Sebastian (Sebi) above at Pebble Beach

The tour fades into the past and I go out to California to see my two sons and their families and my stepdaughter and her long-time partner. There is a week on the Monterey Peninsula. And, a week in my old home, Santa Rosa in Sonoma County. I lived in Sonoma County’s Valley of the Moon for almost four years. Seeing great old California friends in both locations. 

There is a Joseph’s Coat Board Meeting on Zoom and I am introduced as a new Board Member. 

I’m very impressed by the other board members. All committed, like Mike and Kelly. Committed with a passion I’ve seldom seen before in organizations I’ve been associated with. And there is a wide variety in my life from close to the largest corporation in the world to my own consulting business to my brother’s company and they to Sonoma. More writing for me during my time after leaving my brother’s company. My book Battle of Symbols was published in 2003 by Daimon Verlag in Zurich. The publishing firm is the world’s largest publisher of Jungian materials. I had read a lot about Jung but never gone through any training as a Jungian. Everything for me was only a personal experience with the old man. Just like it was with John Coltrane. Jung and Trane. And Marshall McLuhan. Not many others could get into this three-some inner sanctum of my hero’s in life. We all have them. If we admit them or not. 

* * *

One of the major things that comes to me out of my first board meeting is that an important auction is coming up for Joseph’s Coat. The last two, personal silent auctions have been cancelled because of the pandemic. Now, this upcoming online auction, is their major fundraising effort for almost two years. Things need to go as good as they possibly can. 

I tell Kelly I will look at her piece that attempts to get donations for the upcoming online auction. I look over hers and send back the below to tonight. 

It admittedly takes the David Ogilvy direct copy approach to advertising copy by being a directness into the consumer reading it. The amazing thing is that it attempts to play no tricks on the reader but rather lets them know all the behind-the-scenes things. There is no secret involved in this type of advertising copy approach. Everything is laid out on a table in front of the reader to see. The important winner of this approach to advertising copy is that product behind this advertising copy. Not madly out in front. Waving and screaming and all. But rather, in the hazy mist of a background scene. 

The idea of this marketing campaign is 1) to send what you’re reading to friends and family like you and 2) to send to other contacts and 3) post to Midnight Oil perhaps as a blog and 4) to various social media such as Nextdoor Neighborhood and other local, neighborhood sites. 

* * *

Sent off to Kelly a few hours ago. I think that Joseph’s Coat should adopt an Ogilvy styled advertising copy of directness to readers. The auction “donation ask piece” enclosed is an example of this directness of this style. One could dangle some premade images with dates in front of the potential donation audience out there. Or one could be simple and direct with them like the copy in the advertisement flyer created. The direct style of ad copy represents almost the brand of the company as it relates to the psychology of this brand. 

Remember, to contact me at johnfraim@mac.come or Kelly at if you have something to donate to the auction discussed below or you’re interested in bidding on items in the auction. We’ll email you the donation forms you need. Anything you think might help Joseph’s Coat raise money to keep its mission going strong. The vision of that woman I met out in the warehouse. In so many ways, we are all her disciples in some ways. As it should be. Gathered around those that have a vision. If one cannot have this vision oneself.

Anyway, my beginning thread on the board of JC. Captured in the above. Expressed, as copy, in the below.

Let me hear from you!



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