This post was sponsored by Charter Communications as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.
I woke up extra early one recent Saturday morning. I was heading off to be a part of something bigger than myself, trying to set an example for my 8-year old daughter. Though she wasn’t coming with me, I knew she’d ask questions and I hoped it would impact her life somehow. Little did I know that I would be the one who would leave that day changed and impacted.
May 21st, 2016
It was a Saturday like any other, except I had just flown in the night before from swimming with the dolphins. I was exhausted. I wanted to sleep in and enjoy a lazy morning with coffee in hand. Instead, I drove out to Ft Worth, Texas to become part of something amazing.
I’m that parent who wants to walk the walk and talk the talk. That means showing my daughter through my words and actions how important it is to help others…..the sick, the elderly, the less fortunate. It was time to put that TALK into ACTION.
The perfect opportunity came with a little email offering me the opportunity to work with Charter Our Community.
What exactly is Charter Our Community?
Charter our Community is Charter Communications’ philanthropic initiative, providing education, resources and financial support to improve 25,000 unsafe and unhealthy homes in the areas Charter serves by 2020.
Charter developed this program because they know the importance of home – they bring consumers closer to the people and things they love, and make it easy for consumers to know what’s happening in the world. Charter wants to make a difference and support the communities it serves and in which its employees live and work
Once I arrived in Ft Worth, I had the opportunity to not only participate in changing the lives of one family, but I was able to talk with the Charter employees who volunteered their time and effort. For many, this wasn’t their first “rodeo”. One employee recalled the details of participating in a home rebuild last summer. The experience was so rewarding that he was back this year.
These events are happening all over the country, in so many communities, thanks to Charter Communications.
Look at these numbers:
- 2.6 million low-income families live in unsafe or unsuitable housing conditions
- 250,000 of these families live within the Charter Communications service footprint
- 25,000 number of U.S. homes Charter plans to improve by 2020
Charter partners with nonprofit organizations focused on rehabilitating and rebuilding unsafe and unhealthy homes, such as Rebuilding Together, which was the designated partner for our Ft Worth project.
There were individuals and there were families with children, though you had to be at least 14 years of age to participate.
We were introduced to Linda, the homeowner. To say she was emotional is putting it mildly. She said a few words to the group and I watched her throughout the day. She was not in good health and could not do this alone. Thanks to Charter, she wouldn’t have to.
There was so much to be done, inside and out, to make this home safe and healthy for Linda.
While this would be life-changing for Linda, what happened next would impact hundreds of families in the immediate area.
Charter wanted to make a bigger difference in the community, though what was happening on this little street in Ft Worth was big to one family and the neighbors surrounding the house.
They decided to pass out Safe & Healthy Home Kits to people in the community. Now, it was more than just one family benefiting from this event.
……and this is where my heart was.
Inside each box was about $150-$200 worth of practical items for a family, from a smoke alarm to cleaning supplies. But there was one item that was priceless in my opinion for families in these neighboring areas – a weather alert radio.
Now, if you aren’t from the Dallas/Ft Worth area, you may not know that we live in what is routinely called “TORNADO ALLEY”. It’s that time of year where my family becomes familiar with the inside of our closet, the place we run to when the tornado sirens go off. Unfortunately, that happens all too often.
My family also has a weather alert radio, deciding not to rely solely on tornado sirens………because it’s not just tornadoes we worry about, but the devastating winds, flooding and hail that has wreaked havoc on our area this spring and summer so far. A weather alert radio is practical to help keep your family safe, but I know it’s not something that everyone spends money on. It’s more of a “want” than a need. So to families in these low-income neighborhoods, you can imagine what having one of these means.
While I did spend time working on the outside of the Ft Worth house, I soon found my calling – meeting the wonderful people of this community and handing them a Safe & Healthy Home Kit.
It started out as a great way for me to keep my foot safe (I broke my foot in October and the area around the Ft Worth home was riddled with holes and dangers), but it ended with my heart full from the gratitude of these people.
Initially, there were just two of us set up on a small corner in Ft Worth, not far from the event work site where the house was, myself and Kim from ForeverGreenMom.com. Even with a branch of the Ft Worth Police Department nearby, I’ll admit I was a bit wary of the area. I noticed that a bank across the street had armed security outside in the parking lot at all times.
BUT……..whatever concerns I had were far outweighed by the looks of gratitude and humbleness that came before me.
Men and women who stopped by to see what we were doing, then waited for the “CATCH”. You know, how much was this going to cost them. When we explained that Charter wanted to help the community and that they could have an entire box for FREE, they were in shock. I was excited to show them the contents inside, especially the weather alert radio.
Grown men and women reached out to hug me. I saw smiles. I saw tears. And though what I was doing may have touched them that day, I dare say that their actions touched me more.
One little boy, younger than my daughter, maybe 4 or 5 years old, stands out among them all. He walked right up to me and asked if his mama could have a box. He appeared to be alone. I grew concerned and worried. We asked where his mama was. He responded, “in the projects”. We made sure that little boy had a box for his mama.
He touched my heart. I had looked into his big brown eyes full of wonder, yet surely filled with hardship.
I’ve learned over the years that it’s when you see people at their core, when you look into their eyes, when they are taken aback and surprised at an unexpected gesture of kindness, that you really SEE them. You don’t see their circumstances. You don’t see any bad decisions they may have made throughout their life. You see them for who they are or who they want to be. To be able to play a small role in helping them and their families…..rewarding.
It was this reminder that I needed. While I’ve often in my life had opportunities which brought me face to face with those in the direst of circumstances, my most important role of mommy has isolated me from that these last few years. I left that street corner feeling blessed in so many ways. My heart was full.
Linda’s home made safe and healthy.
A community of people blessed unexpectedly.
It was no ordinary Saturday.