This week is my birthday. I have taken 37 turns around the sun. Instead of asking for a pony…like I do every year, and ending up disappointed. Again. I’ve decided to spend the week highlighting things in my life I am grateful for and a non-profit that helps make that possible for other people. If you are so moved by the spirit of #KJCbday, then please make a contribution or donation to one of these groups or volunteer your time with them. Each of them are doing some pretty amazing things.
When a tree feel on our house in 2011, it began one of the most difficult times our family has been through. The next 400 days stretched us emotionally, physically, mentally and more other ways than a yoga instructor. The stress caused some pretty tough reactions in my kid. I chewed through four night guards. Since we moved back home, I had to have root canal because the teeth grinding cracked one of my molars through the root. Our overall medical bills doubled that year because every one of us got sick multiple times from the stress.
Let me be clear: no one was hurt; we had a safe, secure rent house provided by dear friends; we were well-insured and (eventually, after many threats from lawyers) rebuilt properly. That is what home insecurity can do to you. I cannot begin to know what being without a home at all does to a person. It’s simply beyond my ability to grasp. I suspect it could very well kill you. I also suspect that’s why some homeless self-medicate. One change of tree angle, one different clause in our insurance policy, one slightly less vigilant husband, fewer educated friends, and quite frankly, there but for the grace of God, go we.
I will go to sleep tonight on my 37th birthday in a safe, dry place. Too many will not. It’s hard for me to get my mind around. It’s even harder to wrap my heart around. Because here’s the thing: if you’re uniquely gifted to be plumber or a writer or butcher, baker or candle stick maker, then you are most likely not doing that if you’re just trying to find shelter and food each day. And then it’s not just sad for you, it’ sad for your whole community because everyone is missing out on what we need you to be doing. It’s not just altruistic to help those in need, it’s about the very survival of our neighborhoods, cities and communities.
In Little Rock, Our House Shelter for the Working Homeless helps men, women and families get back on their feet when life has knocked them down. These are people who, for whatever reason, did not have the many safety nets my family did. Most of them have hit bottom, but they have not lost the will to try again. You can help them make another go of it. They need money, donated items and volunteers.