It was a beautiful, sunny morning in Paris as I walked along the Seine. It was my birthday and I was completely excited to be spending it in the city of lights!
Across the river, the Eiffel Tower’s wrought iron latticework gracefully sparkled in the sun. Below me I could spy on picturesque houseboats moored along the banks of the river and wondered what it would be like to vacation on one of them.
Tourist cameras were already snapping wildly as trinket vendors (les bouquinistes) began to set up their tiny stalls along the bridges.
I was heading towards the American Cathedral in Paris – on Avenue George V, in the heart of this wealthy tourist mecca – to begin my shift at their Mission Lunch.
Every Friday, 64 homeless and/or poor guests come for a hot, 3-course meal and dessert served by volunteers in a restaurant atmosphere.
There was time to read through several homeowner stories as I waited for the volunteer shift to start at the Habitat for Humanity South Hampton Roads ReStore (HFH-SH) in Norfolk, VA.
I learned of single moms working multiple jobs to make enough to put food on the table and care for their children.
I read a story of a family forced out of their apartment by rent increases. Another family struggled to move to a safe neighborhood to get away from gun violence and drug gangs. One family, unable to secure affordable financing, was forced to live with relatives in crowded conditions. Read more
At just about 2:00 a.m. Danielle and I realized our roof was leaking. We’d been battling the rain for the past two hours, huddled inside our cardboard shelter with a dusty tarp as our ceiling. It was 50 degrees and everything around us had slowly become wet as the rain seeped in – our blankets, our clothes.
A bit exhausted and definitely uncomfortable, we made the decision to dismantle our section of the cardboard city and head inside to the church atrium. Over 575 people had come to participate in Liquid Church’s Homeless Church event. Read more
The speaker stood up at the front of the auditorium….
“Several times a year our group goes into local cities and towns and asks, ‘Who are your missing children?’ We get their names and photos, then make posters of these children.”
(She holds up one of the posters with the faces of at least 15 children on it)
“We then stop at motels and hotels” she continued, “and ask the staff, ‘Have you seen any of these faces?’”
“EVERY TIME we’ve done this we’ve had at least one rescue. Sometimes several. The children are usually going by different names, but we always find someone who recognizes at least one and it allows us to start to work towards finding them and rescuing them.”
These children… they are typically between the ages of 12 and 16. These cities and towns? …. They are in New Jersey….
When I signed up to be a Shelter Helper on a Friday night for Christ Temple Church Ministry’s CTCM Blue Warming Station (CTCM) in Newark, I did not know what to expect. Open up to 3 days a week, and only on nights when the temperature falls below 32 degrees, the church and staff of CTCM go out of their way to provide a safe, warm, peaceful environment to its guests.
On nights when they are open to house the homeless, they transform the main room into a shelter filled with as many cots as they can, so they can help as many people as possible.
DoSomething.org is the future of volunteer and activism experiences. The non-profit uses a digital platform to power offline action through hundreds of grass-roots volunteer, social change, awareness and civic action campaigns.
Targeted at ages 13 – 30, the campaigns can be completed by individuals or groups, without any need for transportation, funding by participants, or oversight. Young adults love to get involved and make a difference. They are passionate about causes they identify with. DoSomething.org taps into that potential and makes getting active super easy and super fun, empowering teens and young adults to drive social change.
Sometimes participating in a charity can be super simple – like enjoying a charity dinner… which is what my husband and I decided to do for Thanksgiving. For us, it was an easy choice. Thanksgiving is typically just the two of us. Our tradition is to take the train into NYC, look at the holiday window displays, do a little holiday shopping at Bryant Park’s Winter Village, then have Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant (Blue Fin on Times Square has been our go-to). It’s a really fun tradition – the city is full of lights, energy and happiness, bright decorations and holiday music. Everyone is friendly and you’re surrounded by the excitement of tourists.
During my visit to Covenant House NYC I met and heard many heartbreaking stories of the young adults who had come to live there and saw first-hand the hope and courage these youth developed with the support of the organization. I heard stories of physical and sexual abuse, of drug addicted parents who passed off their children to strangers for care, of families who disowned teens who came out as LGBTQ. I listened to experiences of the violence of living on the streets in NYC – being ridiculed, kicked, spit upon, ignored. Of being hungry because there was no food for days. Of living in the same clothes for weeks and having access to a shower at a shelter once a month. These were stories of defeat and violence and depression. Of the turn towards drugs and alcohol just to numb the pain. Of lost IDs and the impossibility of forging a life. Read more
At the start of one episode of FRIENDS, Joey and Phoebe have an argument on whether there is such a thing as a selfless good deed. Joey’s belief is that a selfless good deed is impossible because when you do something for someone else you feel good about it… you’re getting something out of it thus it becomes a selfish act. “Look, there’s no unselfish good deed. Sorry.” He says. Phoebe spends the rest of the episode doing a host of activities to help others, unsuccessfully trying to prove him wrong. My question is… does it matter if you benefit? Read more
500 two by fours, 50 gallons of paint and 150 pounds of nails build an average 1,200 sq-foot Habitat For Humanity (HFH) house. Those raw materials transform lives and bring security, hope and a sense of pride to needy families. The Dover site has 4 houses being built simultaneously, one of which is for an Army Veteran whose military resume includes participation in Desert Storm (Iraq) and battles in Afghanistan. Read more