There are those days that you will never forget…buying your 1st car, the first time you had…well you know, your wedding day, the birth of your children, and very select other days. Personally, I was fortunate enough to experience one of those unforgettable days yesterday thanks to A Safe Haven in Chicago. A Safe Haven is a foundation that helps people aspire, transform and sustain their lives as they transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency with pride and purpose.
Yesterday, A Safe Haven hosted the nation’s largest 5K run to end homelessness and Chicago’s largest veteran Stand Down. When I signed up to volunteer for this event last week, I knew that what I was doing was for a great cause. However, what I did not know was that I would be taking my 12 year old daughter with me to help volunteer, and that would change everything for me.
The event featured approximately 5,000 runners/walkers who were running/walking at 8 am on a Sunday morning to help end homelessness. Following the run, the event featured approximately 1,000 veterans who were either homeless or in a dire situation causing them to need help. A Safe Haven provided both a duffel bag and a backpack full of clothes and toiletries, a pair of boots, a hat and a box of deodorant for each and every veteran who attended. My 12 year old daughter and I were assigned to loading the trucks with these items, unloading the trucks, and then delivering the items to the final destination. We loaded and unloaded trucks for nearly 5 hours straight, and please keep in mind these are pretty heavy bags and backpacks completely filled with items.
I could not believe the way that my daughter handled this entire day. Please keep in mind that she is 12 years old. I had her up at 4 am to get to the event by 5:30. Not only did she not complain, but she completely embraced this entire experience. She was lifting bag after bag after bag and smiling the entire time. She was working as hard as I have ever seen her work, and she was motivated like I have never seen. She absolutely LOVED knowing that what she was doing was helping others in the way that it was. She interacted with the veterans and hand delivered items to them, while she engaged in conversations with them. It was such a beautiful thing to see! When it was time to go, she did not want to leave at all, and she talked about the experience just about the whole way home during our hour and a half ride. In the past, my daughter has been involved in buying Christmas gifts for children in need, but this is the first time that she was really actively involved in serving others on this level, and it was an amazing experience.
To be able to serve others for such an incredible cause with your child for the first time is a type of joy and fulfillment that every parent should experience. To watch your 12 your old daughter, and let’s be real, she is 12. At that age, in their minds, the world revolves around them. To see her being so selfless and so giving, and loving every minute of it, and to be able to share that with her, is something I will never forget. All of us who are physically able need to give more to those who are starving for our help. The gift of life is about serving others, it is that simple, and we should never forget that. Let’s start our children knowing this and understanding this at an early age. Kids’ minds are like silly putty and they can be molded. It is our jobs as parents to expose them to what is really important in life so that their minds can be molded into caring, loving, giving, selfless people. Take my word for it from personal experience, by doing so, you will create days that you will remember…forever.
-The Sales Leader