Softening Young, Tough Hearts

Today we got a visit from Officer Winkle, but it wasn’t a bad visit.  He had stopped by to let us know that “Whatever you all are doing, keep doing it.  I’ve seen a big change in *Mike.  He now talks about positive things, and instead of looking for trouble, now he’s trying to avoid it.”  Officer Winkle has known a lot of our folks for several years.  He’s known Mike for 6 years.  This was a huge compliment, and it lets us know that sometimes, this stuff works!!!

We’ve had a new volunteer in the kitchen this week!  This young man has lots and lots of energy, and in the past he’s been a handful at times.  He’s always asked about volunteering, but didn’t really like any of the available jobs.  Yesterday he asked us if he could volunteer in the kitchen.  I talked to Chef Billy about it, and he agreed to give it a test run.  It seemed like a great option, because this guy has, in the past, had an obsession with not liking what came out of the kitchen.

Working in the kitchen is a great way to gain skills and empathy for what it is like to cook for 40-70 people every day.  He’s doing a really great job so far and we’ve enjoyed having him back there.  Working in the kitchen changes people.  I’ve seen it over and over again.  He has been very proud, and asked all of his friends to please eat because he was volunteering.  It made us all smile.

Today’s lunch: Chicken Stir Fry with rice, steamed vegetables, green beans, garden salad, and a choice of pineapple or lime infused ice water.

Our volunteer, Tony, always jokes that the young people are “MaRanda’s kids”.  I have to admit, I have a soft spot for kids who are tough as nails.  I feel like I can really see them; I empathize with them deeply.  I was a “tough kid”, getting into mischief wherever there was some to be had.  Doing whatever it was that I shouldn’t have been doing at the time.  Skipping class in favor of going downtown, hanging around coffee shops with the college folks, sneaking around the Rose Garden smoking cigarettes and cursing up a storm with my friends.  I see pieces of myself in them.  I also see tremendous potential and a huge capacity for love and kindness.

We’ve heard that Love Wins has a radical approach.  We give hospitality that isn’t dependent on what you give us, but we’ve found that what we receive is worth more than any tangible thing that I can hold in my hand, except maybe another hand.

If you would like to contribute to our ongoing work with people who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, housing insecurity, or are simply at risk for all of these things, click here for our donation link.

*Name changed for privacy.  

An Uplifting Friend

Being the Peer Support Specialist at Love Wins Community Engagement Center gives me a look into the lives of our community members with a unfiltered eye. I get the opportunity to sit with quite a few of them on a one on one basis, learning their hardships, what makes them who they are and why they are in the positions they are in. My job is to listen with no judgement and a open heart.

Ally* was 19, living alone in a tent after her boyfriend went to jail. We did our best at Love Wins for her to get her resources, but there was only so much we could do. So we threw it out to the Universe (and Facebook!) that this young girl was alone in the woods and had potential to do great things if given the chance.

Someone reached out to me the next morning and offered to help. I got up, put on my shoes and started looking for her – our people are hard to track down at times. I managed to find her at The Oak City Outreach Center. As soon as I told her what was going on I could see the excitement in her eyes.
Ally was being given a chance. I went with her to go talk to a couple of people about a place to lay her head for a little bit and the possibilities of jobs. She got to take a shower, eat a good meal, and sleep in a safe environment.

For the next week I saw her less than I normally do, but I knew she was going to be ok. She checked in with me regularly and let me know that she was making new friends. I was so happy for her.
For our folks, living arrangements can change fast, and they did for Ally. I got a phone call at 10:30PM that she was going to be outside, in downtown Raleigh.

I got out of bed and put my shoes on. I wasn’t going to let her stay downtown with nowhere to go. I would have wanted someone to come be with me, to answer to my call when I was homeless, alone, and unprepared. I know the gut feeling you get alone at night as a young woman. I told her to stay where she was I was coming to her.

I was walking so fast I was probably running. I told her it would take me 20 minutes, tops, to get to her, but I was determined to get there before 15. I think I ended up getting there in 12. As I walked up over the little hill I could see her in the distance in her bright blue interview blouse she had worn all day while job hunting. She did a little hop and started in my direction.
I let out a sigh of relief when I knew she was safe, but now we had to discuss what was our next move, which was to get Ally a safe place for the night.
By 5:30 the next morning she was up and going. We developed a list of things that she needed to do that day and we sent her on her way. She hustled hard that day, found a side job to make a little cash and was able to find a safe place to be. All on her own.

It’s not the place she wants to be but it’s a safe place to be for now. She has a job working on Saturdays and Sundays and every now and again she picks up a side gig. She hasn’t given up. She won’t give up. Even though she looks like a porcelain doll, she definitely isn’t, for she can’t be broken.
Ally* and I will keep doing what we can to keep her moving forward. And I’ll be there with her as her friend that uplifts her. As Hugh Hollowell put it so beautifully once, “I may not be able to pay your light bill, but I’ll come sit in the dark with you”.

I will sit in the dark with her. Or anyone else that doesn’t want to go through it alone. That is what I do. I am a Peer Support Specialist.

From Homeless to Housed

We’ve been spending the week trying to get our family moved into their new place; we’re so happy that they have a home to call their own.  People have been offering furniture, bedding, kitchenware and kid stuff-it’s been beautiful to see.  We need more love and beauty in this world.

I recently went to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, which I encourage you to see if you haven’t yet, because one of Fred Rogers’ beliefs is that people need to love and be loved in return.  One of the most important things that we teach our children, and each other is that we are worthy of love, and that we are also capable of loving others.  Mr. Rogers passed away in 2003, and I wonder how he would feel today about the current state of our country and politics.  I hope that he would continue to preach love, and that people would listen.

I’m very excited to say that our big family moving into their new house isn’t the only win we have this week.  One of our community members who has been living in a tent also got housing, and the Love Wins volunteers have been busy getting him set up with sheets, bedding, household items- everything that he needs to enjoy his new space.  We’re also proud to say that tons of folks got jobs in the past few weeks!!!  We have dressed up people for interviews, made sure they had what they needed and tomorrow, I’m even taking our artist, Matthew to a job interview!  We’re so proud of our folks, and we use love and kindness to get them to the next step of their life journey.  They’re our friends and our neighbors.

I was talking to our volunteer, Reanie today, and she said something that rang so true.  She said “Everyone I’ve talked to today is experiencing grief.”  The loss of someone dear is a key part of nearly every person’s story here at the center.  We allow people to grieve, we talk about that grief, and help people process their grief in their own time.  I feel as though, if more people understood that, they would have more empathy for homeless people.  I feel like Mr. Rogers was the type of person who did for children what us, as every day adults can do for one another.  “I like you just the way you are.  Your feelings are scary, I understand that.  You feel sad and try as hard as you can not to be sad.  We’ll get through this together.”

After people travel through this journey, they come back to our mainstream society as our neighbors.  They move into houses, apartments, rooms, and have jobs everyday, working right beside us.  I can’t tell you how often I meet someone at a social event, tell them what I do, only for them to tell me, “You know, I used to be homeless once.  It started after *insert loss here*.”  It’s far more prevalent than people think.  Welcome people to our community with open hearts.  Give them space to heal, and when they’re ready, remember Mr. Roger’s words: “I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.  I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.”

To my friends who are now indoors, we’re so proud of you, and we’re happy that you’re our neighbor!

 

A Family that Stayed Together

We’ve heard so many heart-wrenching stories about families being torn apart, I thought that we could use a story about a family that stayed together against all odds. What makes this even sweeter? You all helped keep them together.

Many of you all are familiar with our family with 2 sets of twins and a toddler. If you aren’t, please check out this blog from March 2018 to read their story and how immediate their needs were at that time.  Our family had been staying at a local mission and were coming up to the end of their stay, which at that time, if they had nowhere else to go, CPS would be called and the children taken away from their parents, leaving Mom and Dad both homeless on the streets.  Through the power of Love, we were able to get them accepted into a program with Family Promise, here in Wake County, but it was going to be a while before they could start.  We had to intervene.

Several selfless gifts from folks who support our work, allowed them to live in a long-stay hotel for a month and have regional bus passes.  They got to work on getting all of their appointments lined up in preparation to enter the program.  Five car seats are VERY DIFFICULT to move, and it took me calling in all of the favors to get them moved out of the mission into the hotel.  Before we secured a safe place for them to be, it was very scary.  I stayed up, worried.  The family was worried every second that something bad would happen.  Luckily, we were able to keep them safe until they entered the program.

We called in favors again and got them moved into Family Promise as soon as they had an opening.  Dad found work, and things were looking up.  Everyone thought that things would be okay.  Mom was still nursing tiny babies and they were relying on Dad’s paycheck to make it though the program.  Then we hit a big bump in the road, and Dad got arrested.  Mom was alone with 5 kids at the tail-end of an 8 week program with no job of her own.  She called me in tears.  They had come so far, and now it was just like starting over.  I helped her pack up some things to exit the program, and a church friend of hers was able to get her and 3 of the 5 kids to a hotel room while our friend, Amanda kept the tiny babies for us.  We had to figure out a plan, the room was only for 1 night.

I arrived at the family day center the next day and started calling hotels.  It was graduation weekend, and every hotel was maxed to capacity and the ones that weren’t were charging premium rates.  Then another person at the day center reminded me of a long stay hotel that was a little further out than most and might now have hiked their rates.  I called, and with $100 that a friend gave me, got them a room for two nights.  We packed all 3 kids, Mom and her stuff in a tiny Fiat, and I drove them to the hotel.

When we got there, it was actually less expensive to rent a room by the week, so even though we didn’t have the money, I decided to go ahead and do it and ask the Universe for forgiveness later.  Mom settled in, and Pastor Hugh wrote about what we were doing on Facebook.  You all came to the rescue like troopers!!! Individual donors stepped up and paid for the room until the end of the month!!!  The family had been accepted into a program called “Passage Home” that helps people find places to live that they can afford, we just needed to keep them safe and together until a unit was found.

I’m proud to say that I got a phone call yesterday, and they did it!  They signed the lease on their townhouse yesterday through Passage Home and the lights are being turned on today.  Mom was a success.  She is taking classes in administrative work so that she can secure a good job so that she and her family will never fall through the cracks again!

Here’s what I want to do.  She’s given me permission to come over, do some Facebook Live about their journey, and show you all the house!!!  I’ll get a list of some furniture and such that they need, and then we’ll load it all up to the YouTube channel, and I’ll post the link back on this blog so that future readers get to see it too.  I’m so proud of our family and I’m so proud of you all!!! If you would like to donate towards us being able to keep other families from being separated because of homelessness, click here to help someone in your community that really needs a hand up.

What Does Domestic Violence Look Like?

What is domestic violence? What does it look like? How do I know I’m in a relationship where we aren’t equal partners? I’m the breadwinner, but my partner is embarrassed about it. What is going on?

Domestic Violence is complex and pervades pieces of your life that sometimes you don’t see. It shows up on dates, like a strange acquaintance that you have to explain to people. It shows up at weddings, as your date, who paid their bookie for the upcoming football game, and during the festivities, he/she is having ups and downs related to the bet they placed. It takes many forms, but how do you know you’re in it? (Personal experience).

Sometimes it shows up as the bruises you brandish on your body, but have to take 20 pictures of for anyone to believe you. Sometimes it shows up as you not believing that your gifts are real gifts, whatever those gifts are. Sometimes Domestic Violence shows up as a person who “oinks” at you every time you drink a Coca-cola (also personal experience). DV is insidious. It shows up wherever there is an opportunity. It shows up to piss in a circle around you, and to let you know that “as a trans woman, you’ll never be a woman”, or to let you know that “You’re lucky anyone puts up with your shit”, or that “You’re a sorry cook and no one will marry you”. DV is an asshole who doesn’t deserve to be listened to, and yet, we do.

How does DV make its way in? We all want to know. DV is a very specific asshole who finds what your insecurities are, and then plays upon them. DV usually starts a conversation with “I like how your nose scrunches when you laugh! It makes you look like a rabbit, but you’re so tall?” It sounds like a compliment, a strange compliment. It says “I like how your boobs stand straight up”, and it ends with “Your boobs are so tiny”. DV is the sad asshole of hope. DV hopes they get to be inside your head and you won’t tell on their bad habit, but they’ve pinned you down, they know what you dislike about yourself, and they’ve honed it. That’s how you know you’re in. You’re in there like swimwear, DV has your number.

What do you do about DV? You reach out to friends. You mentally organize your things, decide what is most important, then you have your friends move your stuff in a big group where you are protected from DV. You sound the alarm. You aren’t alone with this person. You protect yourself and find a safe place to be.  You may have to get a storage unit for your things.  You know that you can come to us at Love Wins, and we’re in your corner.

Don’t put up with being beaten, hurt, ridiculed, exhausted.  Reach out, because you have a network, and have a safe haven here.  We all have lived experiences, and DV is so varied.  It’s the feeling of worthlessness you have today.  It’s your partner saying “You’re wearing THAT?”  It’s the with-holding of intimacy from a person you have a bond with, and you can also leave.  We can help with that.

You don’t have to live with your 3rd, very expensive roommate, Domestic Violence.  You can leave them.  You can do something for you.  I’ve lived this life, and I can tell you, you’re worth more than this.  You will achieve and thrive outside of this, but you won’t, until you put up with no more.  No more name-calling.  No more beatings.  No more gas-lighting.  No more of that.  Recognize your worth, and when you don’t feel like you know where to go, come to us, and we’ll help however we can.

Maybe DV has told you that your recent promotion wasn’t enough.  Maybe DV has told you that he needed a certain drug to be okay and he needed you to go get it by any means.  Maybe DV beat you both afterwards because they felt you weren’t “enough”.  That’s what Domestic Violence does.  It feeds off of your accomplishments, then diminishes you, as an afterthought.  DV works selfishly.  DV is your enemy. Don’t play into DV’s hands, you are worth so much more.

*If you’re experiencing a domestic violence situation, please contact our friends at Interact of Wake County, or call the crisis line at 919-828-7740.  If you would like to contribute to our continued Safe Space here at Love Wins, click here to donate so that we can continue to provide a safe place to be for people experiencing hardship.

This is What SUCCESS Feels Like

This blog was written by Blu Honeycutt, our Peer Support Specialist.  To read more about Blu’s journey, click here for her very first blog post, or here for her blog about getting her first glasses in years.  

This Friday, June 8th 2018, will be 2 years that I have been a dopeless hope fiend, and looking back on what I have accomplished in those two years is amazing. I now have a full time job that I love. I have an apartment that I pay for all on my own. I get to see my kids regularly. And I have a network of people that believe in me.

I was sleeping in Mount Hope graveyard for the first 4 months or so of my recovery. I wanted to stay clean but knew I couldn’t be around other people that used, so I decided to isolate myself from the rest of the world. On that journey, I stayed in tents on the Greenway, slept under sidewalks at Moore Square, hid behind churches at night ’cause there was no where for me to go that would be safe from me.

When I found Love Wins, it was like the universe told me, “this is your new place to call home.” I could get warm food, take a nap, have someone notice that I was alive. I had started to earn a little money by flying a cardboard sign, and I started putting it into a savings account… I wanted out of that tent.

I used some of the money to pay for essential oils, made custom blended oils and sold them. I was hand-making business cards at Love Wins, when one of the staff members saw all the hard work I was putting into them. They passed around a hat to a bunch of other homeless people and asked them if they could spare any change, ’cause they wanted to help me get business cards ordered. By that afternoon everyone pitched in, and I had “Blu’s Bottles” business cards up and running.

I managed to save enough money to get an apartment, so I came back to Love Wins again. “I need help finding a place to live. I have money.”
That’s all I had to say, and they started helping me look. A week later I got an e-mail from Hugh telling me to come see him. He pulled me to back office and told me the good news: they had found a place I could rent and afford, but I HAD to show that I had money to do this. I moved into my apartment 2 days later on July 18, 2017!!

As I left the center that day with a shower curtain, pots and pans, I heard Alyssa tell someone that I was a success story. I went from living in a tent to having my own apartment. I was a SUCCESS!! I did something worth being proud of, and other people were proud of me too. When you are able to succeed at a goal, and get to see it happen, it is an amazing feeling that can’t be replaced.  I have had the wonderful opportunity to watch it happen for other people while i have worked here too.

I’m gonna tell you a little bit about Freddie. He was a gentleman that came to Love Wins on his last string. He had a loss in his family, and he was far away from them. He was from Florida. Alone, and not sure what to do or where to start, he came to me and asked if we could just talk. It turned into a friendship that will always stay with me.

Freddie cutting hair at the center.

He needed work. So I found him a list of hair salons that were hiring. He needed somewhere to sleep. So i gave him the address to the shelter. He needed someone to listen. So i just sat with him. I began to see him almost everyday and watched his confidence grow each time I saw him. He eventually got a full time job at Sports Clips and even got himself into an Oxford house. He came back to Love Wins once or twice a week and cut our community’s hair for free. I was so proud to watch him grow as a human being again.

He came to us last week, to tell us that he had a medical emergency and he had to get back to Florida. He could actually afford to pay for himself to get a Greyhound ticket, and it was an amazing thing to see him doing self care. As Peer Support Specialist for Love Wins, that is my biggest thing for our folks. Self Care. He had done it! He is a SUCCESS!!

This is what makes my job so awesome! I get to see people take a journey that is similar to mine and succeed at making it out the other side. It can be done with the right people around you, and support in all your hopes. We see some people just once and they disappear, but then once in a “Blu” moon (hehehe), we get to have someone like this remind us of why we do what we do. We help people become human again and build meaningful relationships.
Love Never Fails, It Always Wins!!

If you would like to contribute to Blu providing continued support to our community members, click here to donate to our Peer Support Fund.  

A Safe Place for Matthew to Thrive

When I first met Matthew, he came to our yoga class, which was only the 3rd one that we had held (it’s now a staple of our center). When Miss Kayla asked if anyone had any injuries, he raised his hand and said, “I have a bullet in my leg”. Kayla is pretty unshakeable, but even she looked surprised and told him to do what was within his abilities, but if he was in pain, to ease up a little. After class, I asked him how he found us, and he said that he had been to Love Wins before, but he had been in jail and had just gotten out. Matt and I began to form a friendship.

Matt is a tough young man. He was raised in the foster care system from house to house. He calls anyone who was in a foster family with him, his brother or sister. He has over 40 siblings and relations because of this. He was born with a seizure disorder that makes owning a driver’s license an impossibility. He’s tough, he’s damaged, but he’s also kind. He’s great with kids, especially if they’re in that age-group where they want to hang upside-down, be flown around like an airplane, and ride around on shoulders- he shines in that capacity. He has a tiny butterfly tattooed on his body.

We’ve had hard times too. At one point in time, when he was having a very bad day, he lashed out at some volunteers who had made lunch because there was nothing there that he liked to eat. It was a simple lunch, turkey wraps, pasta salad, boiled eggs, bags of potato chips, and he had arrived late, so pickings were few. He proclaimed that we didn’t have anything good to eat (and some other choice words in a loud voice with a full dining room). We had to temporarily ban him, and that broke my heart.

Months later (and another jail stay), his girlfriend came to the center and she was pregnant. Matt met with Pastor Hugh, and they had a serious talk. He was going to be a father, and he wanted to be a good one. He apologized and came back to the community a changed person. He was working hard on himself every day to grow as a person and learning ways to cope with his emotions. He asked for some sharpies and started drawing a mural in the dining room on the wall- we discovered how talented of an artist he was!

Matthew’s trials were not yet over, though. His girlfriend lost the baby, and he took it really hard (they are still together and doing great at this point). He became even more motivated to get his life in order so that one day they could have a child and do it all “right”. He loves his girlfriend, and she loves him. They rarely leave each other’s side. With the help of some really awesome folks, he’s navigating his disability paperwork, getting his seizure medication, signing up for food stamps, and trying to find part-time work and housing. In the meantime, he’s directed his efforts to drawing as a way to channel his energy, and his pictures are beautiful.

He has an “animae” style to drawing characters. He’s inspired by Dragonball Z, and Pokemon. I take pictures of what he draws so that if anything happens to his bag (and often times, our folks bags get wet or damaged), his pictures will still exist. I want to keep him in art supplies as he develops his talent. I want to nourish this part of him that loves to create, because that love can overtake the part that wants to destroy. Matthew was born with many obstacles and challenges, but for now, he has a safe space to be where he can grow into the man that he wants to be.

In my ideal world, I want to foster this passion in each and every person. I want to feed Matthew’s talent as he becomes the kind and loving future father that I know he can become. I want to provide a space, colored pencils, paint, paper. I want him to succeed. I want him to one day know a home that isn’t a cell, a hospital or a tent. In the meantime, we’ll be his home, and I’ll archive his work.

*Matt’s story was written with his encouragement.  Our goal is to have an art show for Matt.  

Our Really Open House

Saturday, May 19, we opened our doors to the public. It was quite a dreary day but our volunteers and I had big smiles on our faces as we worked on different swag stations in all the rooms. We enjoyed some coffee as we “knocked on wood” that the rain would stay away. It didn’t.

We welcomed a few strangers and gave some tours. We blew bubbles with the littles and did chalk art under the overhang. The rain didn’t wipe off anyone’s smile or drown our attitudes but it didn’t help with the overall attendance of “new to us” folks. At noon we welcomed 60 friends to share a hot dog lunch with. Billy knocked out over 150 hotdogs and sides for us to enjoy and man, we were stuffed!

As the volume in the fellowship began to rise MaRanda gave a speech before handing the floor over the Hugh. When Hugh speaks I can’t help but take in all his words, even the dad jokes. He really has a way with words. As he was wrapping up his talk we were all “cutting onions”.

Hugh is my friend, mentor and a man I highly respect and have learned so much from over the last year. I will miss hearing his keyboard clicking away or our conversations using only grunts and sighs after a long day or week. I’m going to miss Hugh but am excited for his next adventure. A road trip to Missisippi might be in order.

Towards the end of the day I was reflecting on everything. My favorite moment was being in the kitchen during lunch and hearing the laughter, the smiles, seeing all the hugs and feeling the love. It hit me that all these friends were not only here to support Hugh, but also to support me, Blu and MaRanda. They have confidence in us and have our backs in the work. It was humbling to know that Hugh saw something in me when I was a volunteer to hire me. And I’ve survived the first year!

Love Wins isn’t just a Community it’s a way of life, every day.

Carrot cake with buttercream icing, homemade with love.

 

Summer is coming again, and we need your help.

We’re coming up on the anniversary of the date that I first walked through the doors of The Love Wins Community Engagement Center, determined to keep it open if only by sheer will.  I showed up with a box of fried chicken, my co-worker, John, and 4 hours of sleep (for both of us), as we had just gotten off of work together at 4 a.m. the night before.  It had rained in sheets all night and the parking lot was flooded.  The floor just inside of the donation entrance was flooded.  Everyone was wet, hungry and miserable.

That morning, Alyssa from Raleigh Mennonite Church also came to volunteer, and we looked at each other and laughed.  Of course she was here, we have had a 2-decade long friendship and it made perfect sense that she would be called to the same place.  A couple of volunteers showed up from all the way in Chapel Hill to help us open the doors, make coffee, throw away the moldy bread and clean up the flooded floor.   We learned to open and run the center by literally opening and running the center.

Our early days were punctuated by me asking for things on Facebook; clean socks, clean clothes, coffee, sugar, peanut butter, trash bags, soap, shampoo, beans and rice, emergency band-aids.  Times were tough and it was spring, the time of year where all non-profits see a huge dip in funding.  Our first 4 months, I just look back on in wonder.  How did we make it work?  How did we survive?  We were all in crisis mode and I feel like I called in every single favor that I knew how to.

I commemorate this time in the center’s life because it was truly a time of resilience.  We had a place to be and whatever was in the building, which we had to discover, one piece at a time.  Hugh was there to be our guide, but he was going through this hard time too in a totally different way.  He felt betrayed, sad and depressed.  He wasn’t sure that the center could remain open.  He wasn’t sure if he could trust again.  We were relying on the kindness of friends and strangers to get us though, and one day at a time, we did it.

I don’t have the same connections as Hugh: He’s a reverend, he had 10 years to grow into this platform, in some circles he’s practically a celebrity. I have some BIG shoes to fill here and a totally different background.

I am proud to say that the connections that I have with the service industry and our LGBT community are solid and their support has been enthusiastic and unwavering.  People want the chance to give back, and when given the opportunity, show up big.

Over the last year, a lot has changed. While we’re working on half the budget and half the staff of the previous year, we’re packing in a lot of tangible help in a very short time period.  We have 4 hours a day to do the most good.  We make it the best 4 hours that we can.

We now have a nutrition program where we’re a partner agency through the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina, so we can stretch every penny that we get to make sure that no one goes hungry.  We have a beautiful Really Free Closet that now looks like a very tiny store.  We have an actual Peer-Support Specialist during a time when the opioid epidemic is at an all-time high.  We’ve got a LOT of work to do in a short amount of time.

But as spring comes around again, I start to worry if we can make it until fall.

We have to make it, though.  Summer brings new problems. I’ve already given away my first bunch of sunblock to people who got sunburned this weekend.  Soon we’ll have bug bites, rashes, dehydration and a serious need for baby-wipes and deodorant.  The needs change with the seasons.  We’ll be making turkey salad instead of turkey soup because everyone will be so hot.  We’ll need hats, visors, sunglasses, shorts, t-shirts and tank tops.  We’ll need Gatorade and bottled water.  Summer is a different demon.

Real talk for a minute: We’ll also need operating fundsIt’s a long seven months until the season of giving again, but all of the bills remain.  Please help me broaden my circle.

If you would like us to come speak at your church or social group, please let me know.  Please share this blog post so people know that we are here and what we do.  If you would like to host a fundraiser, please email us.  I rely on my friends a lot.  We rely on our center’s friends a lot.  We rely on Hugh’s friends a lot.  Now we need to keep expanding the circle and inviting in new friends, especially with the rising numbers of homeless people in Wake County and our current lack of affordable housing.

Thank you all for supporting one of the most meaningful years of my life.  I feel lucky every single day to have truly meaningful work.  I feel lucky every time I get to speak in front of a group of people about homelessness, or when I get an opportunity to teach people about the cycles of poverty.

My ever supportive husband, Elliot, is so proud of this work and often has the opportunity to talk to people, one-on-one, in my absence about what we do at the center and how people can get involved.  My life has changed drastically in the past year, but it’s an amazing change.  Sacrifices were made, but everyone was supportive of those changes.

We’re changing peoples’ lives here, and, as Hugh says, “Sometimes this shit works.”

Actually, every time it works. Love Wins!

 

Putting the FUN in Fundraising

We’re kicking off spring with lots of fun to shake off the winter blues!  Join us on Saturday, May 19th from 11 am-2 pm for our annual Open House!  We’re having a cookout picnic, so feel free to bring something to throw on the grill or enjoy one of our home-cooked plates (suggested donation $9, but most importantly, everyone eats, as it should be).  Come tye dye your own Love Wins t-shirt, or have one of our talented artists create one for you!  If you would like a copy of the flyer to print for your favorite hang-out spot, click here for a downloadable PDF.

Do you love live music?  Saturday, April 28th at 8pm, Rebekah Todd and the Odyssey are hosting a benefit concert for Love Wins called “Rock Your Socks” at the Pour House here in Raleigh! They will be selling high quality socks made by Farm to Feet, and for every pair sold, they’re donating a pair to Love Wins! To listen to Rebekah Todd’s music, click here!   To purchase concert tickets, click here!

This month, our campaign is “April Showers”, and we’re collecting things that keep people dry.  Bring us your new or used umbrellas, new ponchos and new or gently used towels to help our folks navigate this spring weather.  More than keeping people dry, we’re also trying to help them keep their belongings dry as well.  Bring us your new or gently used tarps and tents to help our folks keep what they have safe and rain/mud free!

We’re enjoying this beautiful weather, and we’re looking forward to posting pictures from our community garden.  If you would like to come visit our garden, help us plant things or just have an extra tomato plant, please stop by and let us show you what we’ve planted!  Gardening is more than the simple act of planting, it’s good for our minds, our bodies, and especially good for our spirits.  We’re excited about all of the fresh vegetables this summer, so stop by and join us!