November is one of my most favorite months of the year. I tend to focus more of my thoughts on gratitude and giving. And that seems to make me feel pretty good. I thought I'd tell you a little bit about some wonderful work I've been involved in.
I've been working with a non-profit organization, My Story Matters. MSM is committed to giving the gift of story to individuals in need. Mostly children.
Last month we were invited to interview and photograph children and their families at a local homeless shelter. There is nothing that can compare to giving service. Add willing, happy volunteers alongside and it's a little bit of heaven.
My journal entry from the day:
I took part in a wonderful, carefully planned day at the Roadhome shelter in Salt Lake City today. It was a day filled with all kinds of feelings and experiences.
As we arrived we drove up to an area that made us a bit uncomfortable. We searched for the entrance to the building. While searching we walked through rows and rows of people. Some were playing in the streets, some asleep on the sidewalks, many were just sitting watching the world go by. Our group walked quickly and quietly to the double doors and breathed a sigh of relief as we recognized familiar faces.
As we entered the doors we saw children, moms, dads and the Roadhome staff waiting for us. It was very apparent that this building saw a lot of activity with a lot of people benefiting from the programs here. We were a bit unsure of what would come next.
The people in charge gave us some on-site training and then we began to check families/children in at the front table. Those of us that hosted families were able to follow each child through 7-9 different stations where each of our photographers would take as many pictures the child would allow. The volunteers, both photographers and interviewers were great people to work with.
One of the most memorable moments at the Roadhome for me was watching a mother carefully prepare herself and her family for the pictures that would be taken. This family was dressed in their Sunday best and were excited for what was to come. The husband held a very small mirror up to the sweet face of his wife while she painstakingly applied her make up. She then worked on her hair, wanting it to be just right. This went on for about 20 minutes all the while her husband stood quietly holding the mirror, not wanting to move a single inch. Once satisfied with her appearance the mother moved on to her children. The father continued to quietly help where needed. They were ready! Just before their host called them to start I watched as another lady walked by, glanced quickly and then stopped and looked for a few seconds, then cried out, "You look BEAUTIFUL!" And then I saw it...the sweet mother broke out into a HUGE grin. A smile that was so big and so beautiful and so meaningful to me. My heart felt a little tug and I realized then that this woman and her family lived in a tight little community of people that needed and wanted the same things in life that we all look for. To feel noticed, to feel beautiful and to feel loved.
Once all the children were interviewed and photographed we took a little time to unwind and think about what we had just been a part of. Some of the children returned asking when their storybooks would arrive. We would patiently tell them in about a month and that we could hardly wait to see them as well.
As we opened the doors of the Roadhome to leave, we walked out with a much different feeling than upon arrival. We saw many of the same people on the sidewalks and streets but instead of "homeless people" we saw children and families that we now knew, that we now had sweet memories of and wishes for a brighter future.
It's now been several days since that Saturday and my heart and my head are still full of thoughts from the Roadhome. A full day of sharing, caring and taking time to get to know these beautiful families was unforgettable. I realized that this is what fills my soul, this is what I long to feel in a busy, somewhat uncaring, get the job done kind of world.
Thank you to the MSM board members, Alicia and the Roadhome staff, and especially Amy Chandler for having the vision to DO GOOD and then having the will and energies to make the vision happen.
To all our wonderful volunteers...Thanks for Giving!
Delivery of the storybooks was well worth the wait. Each child received "their story" in a book and a blanket to snuggle up with while reading. Many families that were new residents came to us and requested another event like this. We promised we would would return.