I recently took a trip out to Colorado and Wyoming. It was a two part mini vacation. I took my 13 year old daughter along so that she could see where I grew up and visit her grandparents and I wanted to see some friends I hadn't seen in a long time. I don't get home too often you see. Some of the friends I hadn't seen in over 10 years. My Mom just went through cancer surgery and I felt a sense of urgency to get my daughter out there, just in case.
The last two days of my trip was spent with an old high school friend. My birthday was July 30 and hers was Aug 4th so we decided to celebrate together. I asked her Sunday morning to pick whatever she wanted to do. I offered hiking in the Rockies, hanging out at the pool or, and this is when an idea popped into my head, make and hand out lunches to the homeless. It might have been the voice from God but it certainly changed me profoundly. My friend jumped at the idea. Come to find out she had done similar things in the past and had even started a haircuts for homeless program at a salon she started a few years previously.
So, off to the store I went. We soon had made 24 lunches that contained a bottle of water, a sandwich, an orange, a sleeve of pringles, and some peanut butter crackers. Right before we got ready to depart she wrote these words on the brown paper bags, "You Are Loved." How touching, and how appropriate that these three simple words would be a spark that would motivate me to attempt to change my life.
We proceeded down town to a park at the base of the cities capital building. There were way more homeless people than we had lunches but we only brought a handful at a time and made our way around the park. Some were sleeping under a shade tree and we quietly left the lunch next to them so that when they awoke they would be reminded that they were loved. Some we sat and chatted with and just hung out for awhile. There were men and women of all ages. My heart broke that I could not help them all. But as Mother Teresa said, "Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you." We did just that. We even approached some on street corners. Bobby, was a homeless vet who was full of smiles and good stories. Bless his heart.
My daughter and I returned home. She was touched by the whole experience and wanted to do the same here in our own city of Atlanta. I decided to do just that. I created a community Facebook page titled You Are Loved where I started posting pictures and uplifting little reminders that we are all bigger and better than we think we are. It is an open page so anyone can post things there. If anyone reading this is active on Facebook please come by the page and "like" it and share in this little movement.
I am also a budding photographer and I have started selling pictures and canvases of my work much to my surprise and delight. I pledged to take a large amount of the proceeds and apply them to our You are Loved lunches for the homeless mission. I plan on doing this once a month. Right now it will be my daughter and I but maybe as more people learn about it others will come join us.
I woke up out there in Denver. I'm not a particularly religious man but I am deeply spiritual. This feels like one of those moments that we alI have in life that can define us and give us purpose. My life is more important than sitting in this office making a pay check. I put in my notice at my work, which is incredibly frightening, but I felt that I have a clear path in front of me. I want to focus on my photography, my cause, and my happiness. I envision a non-profit organization one day geared towards helping battered women and the homeless. It may not ever come to pass but I know I can help some people along the way.
I feel that for the first time in a very long time, I am awake, I am aware, and I can make a difference in my world starting with me. Sparkpeople was the catalyst that started me on this road. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, a sense of community, and I learned to love myself again. If I hadn't started realizing that I am worth every bit of effort and commitment I posses I don't think I would have been ready to undertake this journey. Thank you to my Spark friends, the articles, the blogs, the incredible people I have met along the way for helping me be a better me. I hope I never stop evolving.
Wish me Luck! :)