Lighting the pathway for Simpson Church Shelter's Minnesota Homeless Memorial March & Service on December 15, 2016.
There are moments in life that will change you forever.
When I was in college, I made extra money by caring for elderly women who lived nearby. A tendency for kindness which was planted in me by my parents grew while caring for these colorful and interesting, yet frail individuals. I found that connecting with them on a personal level increased the pleasure of the situation for both of us. I listened to their stories, they listened to mine. They helped me with my homework and I helped them get dressed--it was a good exchange. But, a creative field beckoned, so this turned out to be a short-term gig for me.
But, I am absolutely positive that the lessons learned during that period of time have impacted every level of my life. The underlying principle--kindness to others.
At Simpson Church Shelter in Minneapolis, I saw that principle shining from the people who run the show there. Christine Giese gave me a tour of the facility with a group of mentally challenged teens who had finished volunteering in their kitchen. It is a bare-boned, no-frills place that looks like every penny is put into the essentials--food, shelter, clothes and the little things, like shampoo, socks and underwear.
How did I get there? Kate Stanley of Minneapolis answered our call for suggestions of where we could do a guerrilla ice luminary installation to brighten someone's day (see Co-conspirators in Giving blog post). She suggested Simpson Church Shelter - what a marvelous idea! At this time of year, times are particularly challenging for those that must spend much of their time outside.
I was going to stop by - quickly - and get an ok from the managers to put in an ice luminary display for their event the next night. But, they were in the middle of the tour, so I tagged along. I learned a lot about their needs and how they exist in a constant state of scraping the bottom of the pan. And, to be honest, it helped me connect with the people who stopped and chatted with me while I was lighting and photographing the ice lanterns. I think I understood - just a tiny bit more - about their situation and the way the shelter helps them feel cared for . . .
I am writing this in the morning before a snow storm which will be followed by two days of BITTER cold and I know that the shelter management will have their hands full as they will be open 24 hours a day during this weather crisis.
I encourage you to visit their website and see HOW YOU CAN HELP.
What am I going to do now to help? I think I will donate some Blessing Bags. They are listed above their Wish List and Christina Giese has the secret formula of what goes into these assembled toiletry kits. I am going to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to assemble them and how many they need.
Fabulous Idea: Some high school kids did a food drive where they collected 300 boxes of General Mills cereal and donated them to the shelter. Then, the students (this is the important part) contacted General Mills and asked if they would match their donation--and they did. Christina Geise said they did not have to buy cereal for a year! Think about it--General Mills and other large companies get requests for donations every day. But, when a individual or a group of individuals takes the extra step to contact them, they refocus in a really good way! Congrats to the students for the idea and the effort and a big high five to General Mills for matching the donation.
Enjoy the Glow!
Jennifer Shea Hedberg, Ice Wrangler for Wintercraft
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