I started volunteering at The Midnight Mission (when I got sober) in 1993 as a holiday volunteer. I had lost everything, hit bottom and was in the process of rebuilding my life. There was a group of people from my home group coming down to volunteer and I just followed what everyone else was doing. Plus, I was interested in TMM because I have always had a deep and profound fear of being homeless. In fact, it has been one of my greatest fears most of my life. This seemed like a good way to face my fear head-on. ”. When I would volunteer here I felt a kinship to the people here on our streets AND I felt completely powerless to help in any way. It was heartbreaking. I had been living paycheck to paycheck for most of my life. I knew that could be me or anyone else, for that matter, homeless and on our streets. In 2009, I was out of work, and had been on disability for a while. Since I had always felt a pull to be here, I called Mai Lee, who had since become the Volunteer Coordinator, and asked if I could start volunteering until I found a job. The more time I spent here, the more I saw how much hope there is and how many services are available to our community. I have witnessed extraordinary acts of kindness by our community, staff and volunteers. As I started to hear the stories of the people we serve, I saw that lives are being changed here. My fear of homelessness dissipated I was hired as a full time employee seventeen years later in 2010. I have since had that opportunity to work with some of the finest people on the planet who truly care about our community and give selflessly of themselves.
I have been given a wonderful opportunity to start a few programs here: Music With A Mission, Art With A Mission, and Laughter With A Mission (in partnership with The Laugh Factory). Working here really keeps things in perspective. It is a loud and clear reminder of my many blessings and what is really important. I have a life that is filled with love and not love that is measured by the love others may feel for me, but by the immense love I have for so many people in my life. In addition, I met my musical partner, Ken Perry, here in 2010. He was a volunteer for one of the Music With A Mission programs. I met the love of my life, Gary Moore, at a TMM event in 2010 and we have been together ever since.
I am involved in a 12 step program that has saved my life. Through the fellowship, I have been given a way to live. I have been able to clean up the wreckage of my past, mend relationships and live my life with integrity. I have been given the opportunity to speak all over the US, sharing my experience, strength and hope, which include my involvement here at TMM. I have seen how my experience can help others. I don’t think there is a greater gift than being able to help someone else.
I’ve had so many memorable moments here and have been touched by the stories of our guests and clients. There is so much hope and love against a back drop of despair and tragedy. Some days, I just have to cry. I figure the day I stop crying is the day I need to find another job and/or check my pulse to be sure I am still alive. I have met so many wonderful people here. There is Ed, “the balloon man”, who is somehow transformed to normal while bending balloons for others. There is Elzie, “the homeless comedian”, who is truly funny and talented and lives on our streets. There is Leonard and Tony, who help me set up and clean up after each of my events. During the Christmas season in 2011, there was a woman in the lobby charging her wheel chair. Both of her legs had been amputated, and she said she was hungry. It was in between meals, so I got her some cookies and a drink. When she reached her arms out of her coat to take the drink, I saw that she had no hands!!! I cannot believe it!! I was shocked to see that people like her are homeless and left to fend for themselves on our streets. She was absolutely gracious and thankful for the gesture. I will never forget her. There is Ron, Jay, May and so many more that attend my events and are always so thankful. There is Bridgette, a beautiful woman who lives on our streets. She attends all of my events. She wrote a poem about the Music With A Mission program and it ended with these words: “Even though I am homeless, the pretty musical notes gently remind me that life is do dear. When I hear the symphony, a smile on my face appears. Yes, I have had my share of heartaches, but one thing is clear. Thanks to the musicians, this has still been my very best year.”
Today my life has meaning and purpose thanks to my sobriety and The Midnight Mission.