Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 38 - Serve food at a food bank.

I finally did my one deed that I have been wanting to do which is serve food at a food bank. If you have been reading my posts, I chose a well-known homeless shelter in Miami, Florida called Camilus House to donate my time too. After a long application process including an orientation, today I served dinner to the less fortunate.

I'm not going to lie to you, everyone has a fear of the unknown, of not knowing what to expect so me going to the shelter did make me feel extremely un-easy, luckily, my little sister agreed and decided to volunteer and do this deed with me. Of course Miami traffic never allows you to get to most places on time and I was always raised that if you're not early to a meeting you're late so I was very aggravated when I got to the shelter at the time lunch was served instead of getting there 15 minutes early to prepare myself. Walking up and seeing the line going all the way out of the dining hall door, with all men made me more nervous than I have ever been.

After walking into the kitchen they quickly gave us a job to do, I must have "I love dessert" written all over my forehead because they immediately assigned me to serve cake slices, my little sister was in charge of handing out the juices and water. I couldn't help but notice everyone in the dining room staring at us like we we're aliens; the men looked more than shocked to see us working in the kitchen. It wasn't long until they started making conversation with us, each of them we're unique and different in their own ways. They all made us laugh and one thing is for sure, they we're ALL very respectful, polite and courteous.

I enjoyed this experience so much that I agreed to return next Saturday and serve lunch. Mainly what I learned from this deed is that not every homeless person is a druggie and/or alcoholic, they are real people who have had something devastating happen to them like getting laid off from a job and not having their degree, or have had an economic problem, or even worse they have a mental illness. I read an article from Chicago’s local newspaper the Chicago Tribune that says that studies have proven that the estimated 35,000 homeless people in Chicago are neither mentally ill nor alcoholic, but are driven to the streets and shelters by severe poverty.

It has been proven that volunteering your time to help others allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place and it is also a two-way street, it can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. The help guide to volunteering opportunities gives you numerous reasons why volunteering your time can benefit you and your family. I encourage you to PLEASE give up a couple hours of one day this month of October and serve food at your local food bank, I promise that not only will you enjoy it but you will want to return and do it again.  

My favorite role model and icon of all times is Mother Teresa, last year she said “We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.” Go out there today and spread love because people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!!!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 37 - Be happy for somebody and tell her/him.

It's easy for me to be happy for someone, I have never been the envious type and on the contrary my friends and family progressing thrills me and motivates me all at the same time. I know that if they are moving forward, I will be moving with them.
With that being said, I contemplated for a while about who I was happy for in particular. Then it hit me, I have this friend who I have known for years, I mean it's been at least 10 years; we can go forever without talking and then when we do it's like we never stopped. Just like me, he was born and raised in the Miami area and from the looks of it he lived a very comfortable life. But sometimes, even having most of the necessities doesn't buy happiness. A couple of years ago he told me he was going to move to Los Angeles, California and pursue his dream of acting, I believed him and the thought of him moving over there seemed dreamlike and something that at the time I thought I would be too afraid to do. I have always been a firm believer in "don't count your eggs until they hatch" so saying something is completely different than acting upon it. A couple of years passed by and he hadn't moved and every time he would mention it, I would smile but would always think in my head "yeah right, we'll see".

About a year ago he really did move to L.A. and has been living there ever since. He is currently taking acting classes and has gotten a few small roles. We talk here and then but nothing major; recently we begun speaking more frequently than usual and I thought he would be the perfect person to tell that I was genuinely happy for him, so I did.
I told him that I never actually thought he would go through with it and that I was proud and so happy for him, a lot of people talk the talk and never walk the walk and he actually proved everyone wrong. I also told him I know he's an amazing person and no matter what happens I know he's going to be something big in this world and not to let anyone ever tell him different. I hope that he progresses and becomes all that he's ever inspired and wanted to be and that all of his wishes come true.

He's not one to show his emotions so he reacted very nonchalantly but I hope that deep down inside it made a difference and made him smile. Even though people try to put on a front like they don't need anyone's approval, deep down inside, when someone recognizes what you've done and tells you that they are proud of you, it makes you smile. It makes you smile that your efforts have not gone unnoticed and it makes you smile that you are actually going through with your dream no matter how many people try to put you down. I don't know about you, but I don't remember the last time someone told me that they we're actually happy for me, and I'm not going to lie, it would be nice to hear it. So today, go out there and tell someone that you are happy for them and see how they react.♥

Friday, September 7, 2012

Day 36 - Step one of serving at a food bank.

So... although you are not required to, I have been trying to do my deeds in order; but as hard as it may seem some are pretty difficult to do right away. One of the deed's I had to skip in the beginning of August was to "serve food at a food bank", yeah it sounded easy, I googled every single food bank in Miami and/or near Miami and all of them (I called over 10) required you attend an orientation before volunteering with them, simple right? No, not that easy because they only hold orientations once a month and on a certain date and time. Not to mention that they would also have to approve your application and make sure you have no background crimes and/or felonies, etc. Who would have thought it would be that difficult to volunteer. Even though, now that I reflect on it, it's the way it should be because you don't want a felon or criminal working at your establishment with your clients.

Anyways, out of all the places I researched there are two big, remarkable, well known centers in which I chose to affiliate myself and volunteer with, Camillus House and  Miami Rescue Mission. They called me back and I set up meetings and orientations with them this month so that I could proceed with serving food at their food banks and working with them in other areas where they could use my help.

Today was my orientation at Camillus House, a shelter that was founded more than 50 years ago. Me being there for not even an hour made me so excited to help and work with them. Their service is carried out with the deeply held belief that every human being is precious in the eyes of the Lord and deserves love, respect, and a chance to live a dignified life. They do more than offer a free meal, they also offer medical care, showers, drug treatment and most importantly a second chance to the desperate, the lonely, and the ones society left behind.

Many of their clients have nowhere else to go. They have no friends, no family, and no loved ones to help them. Camillus House becomes their family and gives them the support and hope that they need to begin the long, difficult transition to a new life and to become self-efficient. They even offer job training to those who don't have the experience or have ever worked.

Our orientation leader, an amazing young lady with a beautiful heart, Eileen told us about her experiences and how she had planned to volunteer with them one time only and how that one time turned into 4 years of volunteering and her now working with them. She said what lead her to come back we’re the people she met while serving, when she would hear these amazing peoples stories she just wanted to take them home, give them a place to live, food and a hug but she knew she couldn't, so instead she came back regularly to see them and volunteer with Camillus House whom she is now employed with. Another story she told us was about an un-named client who had a severe mental illness. He had been homeless for so long that when Camillus House gave him a home and place to stay with a brand new bed they noticed every time they would go into his room his bed was still not used and laying upwards on the wall. After some time of them asking him if he was using it he finally admitted that he had been sleeping on the balcony outside for the past month because he never knew what it felt like to sleep inside four walls on a bed. The story left me in shock and she advised us that most will, but she also said that it will make us want to give more of our love and more of our time.

In conclusion, I cannot wait until September 17th, 2012 after the application approval process so that I can start working with them. I will definitely be letting y'all know my experience and I hope that my involvement will inspire you to do the same and give back in your community. Have an amazing weekend and PAY IT FORWARD!! :)

This is a picture of Mother Teresa serving food at Camillus House in the 1960's; absolutely amazing!♥
"I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, only more love." - Mother Teresa

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Day 35 - Send a handwritten thank-you note.

One of the things I have always been big at is sending thank-you notes, whether it's for a gift I have received or a job interview, a thank-you note shows that you appreciate the gesture and also makes an impression. No, I am not talking about an e-mail or a Facebook message, I'm talking about the old-fashioned elegance of writing, stamping and mailing a thank-you note.

Although there are days that I want to strangle a co-worker, I am pretty blessed in general for having a job that I love and co-workers that are like family. Which brings me to the person I sent a thank-you note to. Over the years, I have become extremely close to my boss and his family, I tell everyone they are my second family because they basically are. My boss was extremely lucky to marry such an amazing and beautiful wife, I often joke that I came out just like her because she has the biggest, giving heart anyone could have. Whether it’s serving at a food bank, or donating clothes to those who don't have, or even taking homeless people on the side of the road food, she is constantly giving. Every day she sends me and her family an inspiring e-mail and always knows the right things to say to make me feel better and put a smile on my face, for that I am thankful. I am thankful she has been put in my life so my note went to her.

It read: "M, I wanted to send you this little thank you card for everything you do, and for always being so inspiring. It's the little things that count and trust me they never go unnoticed. Thank you for always being there for me when I have a question or need advice, you are such a giving person and so beautiful inside and out. You always know the exact things to say and can always put a smile on my face. My wish for you is that this life becomes all that you want it to. Your dreams stay big and your worries stay small. You never need to carry more than you can hold. And while you're out there getting where you're getting to, I hope you know somebody loves you, this is my wish for you. Thank you and I love you, C"

Every day someone - the guy making your deli sandwich or doing your dry-cleaning or the woman who drives your bus this morning - is making our lives a little better. Maybe it's a friend, neighbor, relative, professor or teacher who, even by their words or actions a decade or so ago, did or said something that smoothers our path and soothed our souls.
For that we need to say thank you. I encourage you to write a thank you note to the first person who pops into your mind after reading this entry; it's guaranteed to make their day and yours while you're writing it!