"You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything." Despite the twang that Aaron Tippin' sang it with, the guy had a point.
When I came back out to California, I asked my self "What is important in my life?" What I found was that the thing I wanted more than anything else was to make a positive difference. I didn't know where or with whom. I just knew I wanted to help. When Sajdah Golde mentioned that she was looking for help with Motivate Equality, I knew that I had found a place to volunteer and give back to the community.
Today, my friend and I got in the car at 8:50 on a Sunday morning, and drove down Crenshaw to this tiny yoga studio. We met up with Saj, Chanel and a few other volunteers, and we begin doing something that frankly I had been dreading. We did a phone bank to help raise funds for the Ali Forney center, an LGBT Safe Shelter for homeless youth. It was destroyed during Hurricane Snady leaving hundreds of young peple without resources or a place to find comfort. While I was preparing for it, I kept doubting the people I had on my list. I was certain that no one would donate, and that because half of our volunteers hadnt shown up, that the day would be a flop.
As I sat in this peaceful room listening to an intimate group of people sharing their very diverse stories, I realized there was no other place I would rather be on a Sunday morning. Many people spend hours in church and don't accomplish what we did. We raised over $1,000 for the shelter in a matter of two hours, and bonded over a tragedy. I think it is easy to forget sometimes what other people are going through when it doesn't directly affect you.
As we went around the room telling each other what motivated us, my friend spoke up. She was volunteering because she's from Philly, and had a friend lose his home in the storm. He lived without power for 30 days, and watched the steam rising off the water settled on his floor because the water was warmer than the air. Someone else volunteered because they had a tough experience coming out and wanted to help other youth. Others came because they were nosey, or had nothing else to do. By the end of the day we were high fiving each other as donations came in, making jokes, exchanging social media connections to keep in touch… And a few of us teared up about all of the love in the room.
Today I was a part of something meaningful. Today I was reminded how much I love my family and friends for their incredible contributions. Even my acquaintances were supportive.
Today I was reminded what is so beautiful about this country.
It's like a family with multiple siblings. All of the siblings (represented by race, gender, religon, sexuality, and other segregative self descriptive stereotype supporting words) fight amongst one another. They drive each other crazy, sometimes take it to far, and always offend each other, hower if an external force steps in, we always take care of each other. Natural disasters included. It amazes me, the human race. Despite all of the bad in this world, there is some incredible good. It would be nice, however for the siblings to not fight at all.
Do what you can to make this world a better place. Find a calling or a passion. Find one that benefits someone other than yourself, and see what it feels like to love selflessly. It's an incredible feeling, to help. Acts of kindness are unforgetable.
Through kindness comes a legacy.