Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day - 133 Homelessrob, Shay Kelley, and Starbucks

In me there is always room to grow. It's amazing what a few cups of coffee and a short conversation with Shay Kelley can do. I was defiantly privileged to find myself in the presence of project 50/50 recently.

What made this event such a growing experience for me was the fact that Shay Kelley and I are not on the same page when it comes to some things. She and I have different takes.

If we did not, how then would I have learned anything? Despite our different takes on things I still VERY much respect her and project 50/50. Its OK to have a difference of opinion. And if you allow yourself to have an open mind about the difference of opinions, you might learn a thing or two. And grow a little. I certainly did.

I know a guy who works with homeless people. He is effective. He and I are on the same page about almost every aspect of the topic. Over the last few years he has done some wonderful things in his work. However, he has no heart when it comes to homelessness. He leaves no room for love, friendships, or compassion. For him, the work is simply business. At least this is what he would have you think.

Shay Kelly, on the other hand, will tell you (as she told me) that she leaves her heart and friendships in the streets. She is a complete opposite of my other friend. Me, I'm somewhere in the middle of the two. I'll say to you that I don't care to have friendships in the streets.

What I mean really is that I don't care to have friendships while I'm in the streets myself. I'd like to tell you that my relationship with Lance is simply work and that he and I are simply helping each other out (as Lance has done far more for me than I have done for him). But I also have to tell you that Lance has grown on me. I care about him much more now that I have taken the time to know him. We talk off the camera and in these moments a good friendship has begun to form. As non-personal as I would like our relationship to be, or tell you it is, I simply can't help but like the guy. I care a lot.

A few days ago I was working. I was walking the sidewalk doing my thing with my sign. In the parking lot next to me a man drove in and honked his horn at me. I walked over thinking it was something about auto window glass repair. When I got to the car I realized there was no crack in the windshield. I asked the man how I could help him, and this is how it went:

Man: Hi
Me: How can I help you?
Man: I want to help the homeless! ( I never lie to you, this is all true and exact)
Me: You want to help the homeless, well that's good.
Man: I have money to give them.
Me: Well, that's good. I'm sure if you drive around here a little you will find someone that can use it.
Man: I just want to help.
Me: Are you a part of a group or organization or something like that?
Man: No, it's just me
Me: Well, ok! You will find someone if you just drive around a little.
Man: No, you do it.
The man then reached into the center of the seats and pulled out $1. He handed it to me and said....
Man: here, you do it, I trust you.
Then he just drove off!

I have to tell you, I had a pretty bad attitude about this. One thing is that I was left standing with a feeling that somehow homelessness had found me, in my "off homeless time". LOL! You have to see the irony in this from my prospective. I don't have to even be doing anything, and here comes homelessness. Next, why could this man have not just done it himself? Now, I'm in a situation where I have to go out of my way to help out a homeless guy, for someone else That's taking up my own time to do things, something which I can't afford to spare. I'm sure that if you know me and you read my blog you can see why I felt this way. It was a bad attitude to have, over a single $1 bill.

Some time later I was on my break. I stepped outside while my computer was loading, and what's the first thing I see?  You guessed it, a homeless man. Just standing there, in front of the laundry mat that is beside my office. I took a few minutes to check him out first. He looked hard. He had the face that said "street tough". I sucked it up, walked over, and handed him the $1 bill.

His face lit up! All of a sudden it was nothing like I had expected. I handed him his money, turned, and started to walk away. He thanked me 3 times before I got back to the office. After the last "thank you" I looked over my shoulder and saw that he was still smiling, brightly! "Greatfullness" is the key word here.

Yes, I had a bad attitude about this. That's OK though. Sometimes I'm allowed to have these moments. I'm only human. But I did not let it stop me from doing what was right. I could never have simply have kept the $1. I can't help but think the whole thing went exactly the way it should have. I did not just give the man the money. Instead I sent a message. The message was "people care". And it was a message well received.  For the record, I did not tell him the money was not from me. I did not say anything really. It all went so quickly and I was really too caught up in the look on his face. I just know that I had learned a lesson in life. I had to take a few to think about what had just happened.

Mark Horvath uses a video camera. There is no alleyway, corner, or tunnel that Mark will not go into to show people the reality of the homeless  problem. 

Carey Fuller, is a constant reminder that one should help another, no matter what. My friend Kathryn Harris uses pictures to reach out to people. 

My friend Milky_Way is always on the homeless forums offering his advice and kindness (Milky_Way, if you see this... you need to get your butt on FB. I keep telling you this). 

Tracie Ysaguire is always telling me that she wishes she could do more to help, but every time I turn around I see her supporting someone's work. She's always encouraging someone, always!

Julia Gray does awesome work in Canada. She starts sports programs and a whole lot more, for homeless people. Very cool. On a personal note I have to tell you, Julia Gray was been a huge inspiration to me. I can honestly say that I might not have ever made it this far in my own work if I had not stumbled onto her story the day that I did. Her story inspired me VERY much, and still does. If you want to see why, you can check it out for yourself here:  I just so much respect why she does what she does. 

My friend Jeanine RM has been relentless in her willingness to help me with Lance, along with a few others. Shay Kelley travels from state to state helping people, relentlessly. I also know a group that simply makes sandwiches for the homeless. My 14 year old friend (Ben) in Australia, would rather spend his video game money on the homeless people here in America, just so they know that people across the globe care. A few weeks ago I told you how an employer would not hire me just because I was homeless. My current boss loves hiring homeless people, because he feels that is a way to give back to the community and make difference. It does. I don't make great money, but I make enough to afford my own apartment, and a little more. My current boss is pretty cool.

Me, I blog my stores.

My point is this: you can do things your own way when it comes to the homeless cause (or any cause, for that matter), and still be effective. There really is no right or wrong way when it comes to helping out your fellow brother or sister. The small things make big differences too. You might not have the ability to hop in a truck or van and travel the states. You might not like to write blog posts. Perhaps you don't have a video camera or have an eye for picture art. Maybe you don't have a business to employ the homeless. Maybe you're just a person on his or her way to work and from time to time along the way, you like to drop off a spare buck or two. Maybe your gift is encouraging others. Maybe your gift is support. Use the gifts God gave to you and be yourself.

These people I mentioned above all have a few things in common. 

One, These are people that do not consume their lives with the "wells..." and "what ifs" and "buuuuuuuts" in life. These are all people that take action and make a difference, no matter how it gets done. 

Second, they are very passionate about what they do. They all put their hearts into their work and because of that, positive change happens.

I hardly scratched the surface of all the good people I know. I wish I had the time to tell you every name and every bit of good work they do. But that list would be VERY long. Instead, I'll encourage you, consider what I'm saying here today. You can do something. You can make positive change. You do not have to do it like everyone else. You do not have to be a big organization. You do not have to be extreme. You don't even need to leave your home. You can do your own thing.  

I encourage you to think this over. Allow yourself to grow through learning and an open mind. Consider all the wonderful things you could do, and when you decide what that great act is, come and join the circle of compassionate people. See all the great people who play their parts. Its an awesome group of people. Admission is free. They just ask you to bring your heart.  

I did not get a chance to see Project 50/50 before they left. But I hope to see them in the future. I'm sure I still have much to learn. I'm willing to do it!

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