From time to time, I drive to Garden Grove to meet a couple of friends, load their cars with donated food and personal care items, and visit motels on certain stretches of busy Orange County roads. The friends work for an organization called Project Dignity, a nonprofit that provides services to low-income homeless families living in residential motels in Orange County.
At each motel, we set up card tables. On those tables, we place boxes of food and soap and diapers. And then we knock on the motel doors and encourage families to come shop.
The families come; they take bags from outstretched arms and they shop.
And without fail, every single time, I cry. I cry when I see the little kids, the frail grandparents, the tired parents. I cry when I see the helpers — the motel residents who arrive to the parking lot the same time our cars do — set up the card tables for us, lift the boxes for us, unpack the food for us. This is what they can give, and they give it their all.
For those who think Orange County is sandy beaches and rides at Disneyland, that it ain’t. Is any community truly sandy beaches and an amusement park? I’m hard-pressed to say yes.
Everywhere I look, I see inequality. Inequity. Injustice. People who are “the other.” And it breaks my heart. Where is our compassion? Where is our courage? Where is our empathy, our humanity?
I left my corporate gig more than a year ago. I’ve been on a wild ride since — learning and growing and talking and listening.
When I hung up my corporate badge last July, I didn’t have a plan. My only goals were to reconnect with my family and figure out what brings me joy.
As it so happened, I ended up saying yes a lot during my no-plan time. “Yes, I’ll meet you for coffee.” “Yes, I’ll attend that meeting.” “Yes, let’s jump on a call.” “Why, yes — I’m always up for happy hour.”
All those yeses eventually prompted me to start my own business, and I now run a social impact consulting firm. I feel incredibly lucky because I had choice and freedom and could chart my own path, based on what drives and moves me. I know so many people, women in particular, who simply don’t have choice, and that pains me.
This gig I have now — it’s hard and wonderful and challenging and empowering. I have met absolutely incredible people doing…