INNOCENCE: Lack of guile or corruption; purity

I’m so excited…eager and nervous also…about today’s volunteer venture.  A while ago I was invited to help fundraise for a non profit called Jump Start Ministries and Love is in the Bag.  Jump Start is run by a husband and wife team who run a church for poverty level families and Joanne…the wife…dotes and loves on the children in that community. This is a woman who recognizes their INNOCENCE and the opportunity to invest in their lives…in order to prevent them from becoming statistics and to show them how to break out of the poverty cycle.

Love is in the Bag is run by a bad a** mom of two. Bags are placed in businesses and people can shop for items that are needed (lists are put inside the bags) and return these Love Bags to whichever business is helping out that month. Shoes..toiletries..shirts…toys…blankets and snacks are most commonly asked for by kids.  For this particular fundraiser the idea was to help raise money to purchase shoes for the kids that attend Joanne’s church. It’s a sad fact that a lot of these kids have one pair of shoes and they are used for school and church and then passed on to younger siblings. One youth was known to walk on the heel of the shoe because he had outgrown his sneakers and his toes were curling under. (I look at my multiple pairs of Vans and there’s a moment of shame…do I deserve to have 4 pairs of Vans…should I feel guilty?)

I didn’t give away my Vans…but I did decide to bust my butt to raise funds by selling Live a Great Story t-shirts. (HUGE thanks to Zach..the founder..for allowing me to do this). $400 + was raised for the kids and I was lucky enough to watch them receive their bundles and shirts. I admit…there were a few kids that I wanted to get plane tickets for and bring home…they were THAT cute.

Today I’m invited to follow up with these kids and see their homes and look at their faces as they tell us about their week. Today…I get to deliver Hot Cheetos and a prayer…if it’s requested.

I’m going to drag my jeans out of my suitcase and try and figure out which shirt will mask orange Cheetos dust. Maybe I should bring my big bag in case one of the kids is down to fly home with me and be my cute new friend.

(If you’d like to show love for Live A Great Story and purchase some gear…go here… – you can use coupon code “Popandlock” for 10% off. )

ROLE MODEL – A person looked to by others as an example to be imitated

Wow…that is heavy stuff…those two words together….

Here I am…trying to figure my own self out and looking for my own mentor and I’ve been entrusted to train and recruit people to be examples to our future generations.  How do I select wisely and what do I tell them? I’m my own mix of hot mess and evolution right now…but I can’t tell a hurting 8 year old to hold tight with his grief and anger while I figure out how to live my own life.

I looked up the definition of ROLE MODEL before I began to type up the training I’ll administer to new volunteers and I thought about people who I would want as my own ROLE MODEL. Two wonderful people came to mind and I was fortunate enough that they agreed to join this program.

Cassie is an exuberant 20-something. She is mature and wise beyond her years and a co-worker I used to sit and talk through my own thoughts and life struggles with. I often find myself wishing I had the knowledge about life and her self-awareness when I was a young 20-something. I’d be so far ahead of the game by now. She will be such a gift to the two girls she works with and they will have a great mentor to guide them through some rough spots and elementary school. If I were one of her little ones, I’d be enamored by her perfect smile and her presence. She is so beautiful…I don’t mean that just superficially…her genuine compassion and kindness truly radiates and leaves you in awe of her as she enters a room.

Alex is the definition of spunky. Spunky isn’t even a long enough word to really harness the energy Alex will bring to his kids. He jokes about winning “favorite mentor” but he’s probably right. I don’t doubt that they will want to model his laughter and joy about life that he brings. My hope is that we can give them that true joy and light in their dark homes. If anyone can ignite that flame and light…it’ll be this guy.  (I will have to get the link to his dance moves and post that some day).

We’ll have more ROLE MODEL’s joining and I can’t wait to learn from them and tell YOU about them.

(QUICK NOTE: For my training and guidelines, I used, to supplement my training presentation for the new volunteers and mentors coming on board. )


Mentor – To advise or train (someone, especially a younger person)

About a month ago I sat with J, Belle and my baby brother, Chris, at a Mexican restaurant. Our original intention had been to advise Belle on what moving out would cost. Cramming tortilla chips and salsa down my gullet…I imparted my wisdom. “Turn the heat down when you leave. Ramen is a better choice than a store bought mocha. Body wash and shampoo are the same thing…save your money.” Around the second basket of chips…Belle waned and we lost her. She was fighting a stomach bug and our constant daggers of advice were pushing her to her limit.

Conversation turned to some of the kids at Chris’s school.  He works at a local elementary school that has a 99% population of kids that are living in or under the poverty line. 99%!!!!! In addition to the stresses that come with living in this economic bracket a lot of these kids have domestic abuse in the home and/or are foster children. The behaviors that some of the kids were exhibiting had Chris worried and overwhelmed. He wanted to help them all…but how much can one person do. An idea began over the quesadillas and a mentor program was beginning to blossom.  I’m happy to report that 4 days ago…we launched that mentor program!!!

After the high fives (ok…my brother and I don’t high five..we kind of just grunt approval at each other)…I sat to put together an itinerary and some words of advice to our volunteers (we currently sit at a whopping 2 volunteers). Mentoring is hard to describe and to define. I mean…according to my Australian King…Siri…it’s “to advise and train.” How do I tell these people the RIGHT way to do this? I’ve got some mulling….Give me a day.