Car Seats, Cash and Connection.
Creed called. I could tell by the tone in his voice that he was upset. I asked what was wrong and he told me about what his wife had experienced the night before. My heart began to race and I could feel the blood rushing to my face as he described how she came across a lonely six-year-old child wandering the streets, lost and alone. He was scared and disconnected from everyone. She couldn’t understand how anyone could let this happen and was determined to get him back home.
It was the same night that a couple of teens were found firing guns at one another in a local park. “With children lost in the streets, why is anyone ever shocked when those same kids years later are trying to get the attention of anyone; willing to do whatever it takes to get noticed?” I was upset now.
I met with Jennie from Reach and Rise the very next day. I turned in my application to become a mentor and answered a few questions about my background. She shared with me that there are nine young men waiting to be matched to a male mentor. Not one of those young men had a father figure in their lives. I don’t know any of them, but in a way I do. I’ve worked with enough kids in that position long enough over the years. They desperately longed for a connection that most of us have had, and have taken for granted, from day one. They were robbed of that incredible gift early on and have been paying the price ever since.
Over the course of the last two days I have provided 24 thirty minute presentations to all 500 Sedgwick employees. My objective was to get everyone well versed in Resources Unite’s mission of connecting individuals and businesses to volunteer opportunities and to reinforce our philosophy. “We know that at the end of the day, everyone wants to get involved, make a difference and feel connected. Sometimes though, we just don’t know where to start. Resources Unite is that starting point.”
I then provide examples of how when our community is connected to one another, we can accomplish incredible feats. The greatest resource we have in our community is one another. Every time, over and over again, that truth is reinforced. I tell the story of Jim. Eyes start to well up when they hear of a man in our community that has gone without electricity for three years. It’s hard to fathom. Tears begin to stream though when I share how the community rallied for a man they will never meet. In ONE HOUR after sharing JIm’s story months ago, Boyle Electric committed to repairing his damaged electrical line and after 48 hours, thousands of dollars worth of goods were donated by complete strangers to help get Jim back on his feet.
Jim’s doing pretty good now. I actually visited him tonight. As I pulled up to his place, I noticed this sign hanging on his home. I felt such pride in what our community had done and continues to do for this man. We have so much potential, I thought.
An anonymous donor reached out to me yesterday, asking how Jim was doing. He shared with me how he was moved by Jim’s story months ago and how he decided to save some money each pay period to give to him. It felt good giving Jim the $471 donation from a complete stranger. He once again didn’t understand why someone he would never meet would be so generous. I shared with Jim how good it made that man feel to help.
My son Isaac was with me when we met with Jim tonight. As we pulled away he asked me if there were others in need and how they were getting help. I told him about the woman this morning that needed a car seat for her 18 month old baby. Heather had sent us a message asking for help for this woman. “I’ve tried every resource. I’m at a dead-end,” she said. I told Isaac that I shared that message with a friend of mine while I was waiting for my protein shake and he immediately gave me $30 to help the woman out who was also fleeing an abusive relationship.
I posted the need on our Facebook page and within just a couple of hours, the team at “In the Zone Nutrition” raised the $100 needed to buy that car seat.
Then an amazing thing happened over lunch. I was sitting at Carlos O’Kelly’s talking with Kari when I received a message from Sara at “Steve’s Ace.” It turns out that she and her sister are a car seat check at their store and they have access to FREE car seats for people in need. Tomorrow the woman desperately trying to start her life over is going to get a free car seat and more than $100 to buy any other resources she and her baby may need.
The amount of success and happiness in our lives depends heavily on the connections we have with one another. I’m fortunate. I have a phone filled with contacts that I can reach out to 24/7 if I need to get immediate support. Others are not so fortunate though. There are countless people in our community that desperately need someone to reach out and to offer a helping hand. They have been forgotten and are roaming the streets lost.
This support though doesn’t always have to come in the form of car seats or cash. Jim would tell you that he would give back every nickel of the donation he received tonight for people to just come out and sit in his yard with him and talk. It’s the connection he misses most.