Jeff was recently featured on MySanAntonio.com. Read the interview!
by: Jeanne Jakle
San Antonio’s Jason Mata had faith that a kind of angel would swoop in to help keep his struggling West Side program – which teaches needy kids boxing, keeps them out of trouble and helps boost their self-esteem – from going under.
“I knew in my heart that God was going to send someone to us from outside our city to help us with a significant amount of money so we could stay afloat,” Mata, who runs the Advocates, said in a phone chat.
Little did he know that his angel would turn out to be a wealthy online business coach from San Antonio who would be sent to them by ABC – specifically, by the network’s hit reality show “Secret Millionaire.” The show airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on ABC.
That’s when you’ll meet marketing wizard Jeff Usner, who’s no stranger to hardship and tragedy. We’ll see how this father of four not only experienced the loss of a son, but suffered a stroke and went from debt-ridden to making his fortune.
Usner went undercover to help three worthy organizations – two in San Antonio and one in Canyon Lake – with not only cash and gifts, but lots of muscle and loads of heart to boot.
“I was interested in helping good people who do good things whom you never hear about,” Usner said in a phone chat.
His journey began here last September. First, there was an extensive screening process to determine that the “millionaire” and the programs he would help were on the level.
“Getting on this show seemed harder than getting into medical school,” Usner joked.
When given the go-ahead, he left his luxury home near San Antonio to rendezvous with the ABC crew. However, he had no idea where he was going. They steered him to the West Side of San Antonio, an area of the city he’d never been to. “Usually, we’ll stay on the River Walk.”
He was given the equivalent of food stamps for a week – about $40 – and a beat-up car with a bad exhaust system to get him where he needed to go. Each organization had been told that L.A. filmmakers were interested in featuring them in a documentary and a volunteer – Usner, undercover – would be sent over.
First stop: the Advocates, where, in 106-degree weather, Usner helped build a boxing ring and even got in to help the kids, ages 7 to around 17, train.
“They did combinations on my hands; it really hurt,” he said.
Dirty and drenched with sweat, he then was guided to his next adventure: putting together a learning center for a boy with disabilities. The organization: TeamAbility.
“Their focus is helping children with multiple disabilities overcome milestones in their lives,” he said.
He then moved from youngsters to seniors. Under the direction of Habitat for Safe Seniors in Canyon Lake, Usner helped construct a wheelchair ramp for a man who had a hard time getting in and out of his house. The organization also helps feed those on tiny incomes, he said, so his next assignment was filling 120 cars with groceries.
It soon came time for the big reveal and presentation of checks (which, incidentally, come from Usner’s own pocket.) He said he was most nervous about that part.
“I felt most comfortable when I was there with them as the volunteer, getting my hands dirty, just helping,” he said.
When told the truth about why the cameras were following them, he said, “people were shocked.”
Mata said the “sizable check” was followed up by another donation: a truckload of boxing equipment.
It was really exciting,” he said, but added he was just as appreciative of “Jeff’s volunteering, the effort he put out and the fact that he even came back.”
In fact, the S.A. location may have been the biggest gift of all to this “secret millionaire.”
“It was really neat to do this in a place so close to me,” Usner said, “where I can see the people I got to know fairly regularly.”
Jeanne Jakle‘s column appears Wednesdays and Sundays in S.A. Life, and she blogs at Jakle’s Jacuzzi on mySA.com. Email her at email@example.com.
Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/life/article/Jakle-Secret-Millionaire-helps-organizations-3696789.php#ixzz20LtmLllj