Time flies when you are having fun! We are well into 2013 and just about ready to celebrate Valentines Day. I would like to share a very different kind of love story with you. It’s about a homeless family and a generous donor. I’ll let you in on a secret; it has a happy ending.
F. & M. are a couple living in one of our shelters. They have two young children and last year they struggled to maintain housing. F. has a job but M. continues to search for employment. They could not make ends meet and when their car finally broke down, their only option was our shelter. They moved in at the end of summer.
F. continued to work at a job four miles away, borrowing a relatives aging, gas guzzling truck to get back and forth. They could barely afford the gas. Lois T. Case Manager at their shelter put them on the Wheelz2Work (W2W) waiting list in September and told them that there would be a long wait- we were not getting many donated vehicles. They were eighth on the list.
W2W is a car donation program- BCHG solicits used vehicles in running order, inspects and repairs the cars and then the cars are given to clients in need of transportation. And in case you don’t know, the ability to actually GET to a job or school is essential on the journey from homelessness to self sufficiency. But car donations have been slow; the economy has affected everyone. Up until October of 2012, BCHG had received only 2 vehicle donations. We received 1 more vehicle in October, 2 more in December and that that was it. After trimming the list down it looked like F. & M. would be waiting awhile; all the cars had been assigned to other families.
But then we received a call from Bruce Markley. And he had an interesting proposition. Bruce wanted to BUY a good used car and donate it to W2W. What a great idea! So Bruce researched cars and ended up purchasing a 1998 Acura TL Sedan with 157,000 miles on it. F. & M. were next on the list which was good news since the relative who had been lending the couple the truck wanted it back by February. F. was ready to hike to work.
We met at Express Auto Tags in Doylestown on January 28, 2013. It was a pretty straightforward transfer until we got out to look at the car. Bruce was so happy to show F. the car! He pointed out how some things worked, showed her how to adjust the seat. F. was looking a little overwhelmed but happy. I asked if I might take a picture and they posed.
And then it happened, F. reached up to Bruce to hug him in thanks. And their smiles were a beautiful sight to see. F. grateful in receiving a gift and Bruce gracious in giving a gift. There is a Maori saying : With my resources and your resources everyone will benefit. And that is love friends- true love. The kind we are called to share with each other.
F. & M. will be able to get to job interviews, school and take their children to doctors appointments now. Bruce, on the drive home, revealed that he had wanted to do this for awhile; really make an impact for a family. And he did.
Happy Valentines Day to all our friends who show their love through amazing donations of time, talent and treasure~Love is a beautiful thing!
A couple of months ago a reporter from BBC America contacted BCHG. David Botti is doing an election year piece on Levittown- the story of the American dream shaped sixty years ago by William Levitt. Over the course of weeks we had conversations about the poor and working poor in Levittown and David visited the Penndel SHP site. This short film stated the truth of hunger in Bucks County: the people who are food insecure, the organizations that are struggling to keep the pantry shelves filled and community members who give what they can to make sure their neighbors do not go hungry. Please watch it and pass it on… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19762410.
On Saturday September 29, 2012 a group of 30 volunteers; alumni and staff from LaSalle University, arrived at our Penndel site to tackle some outdoor projects. I arrived a little early and was looking at the tasks on hand, shaking my head wondering how this group would get our “to-do” list done. As I was standing there the LaSalle liason, Carolyn Chirichella, arrived with rakes and t-shirts and sign in sheets and a BIG CAN-DO attitude! Carolyn was undaunted by the task list and assured me that the LaSalle team would “git her done.” I put out coffee and donuts and volunteers began to arrive.
A father and his two young sons arrived ready to work. Four generations of one family showed up and jumped right in. Many other LaSallians showed up bringing rakes, leaf blowers and chain saws! Everyone hit the ground running. The younger volunteers tackled the garden and spotted lizards and a garter snake!
Three hours later every single task was complete. That is the power of volunteer spirit- these folks tackled jobs that, in your own yard, would be overwhelming. Working together so much was accomplished! Fresh play ground mulch was spread out underneath the shelter swing set. The raised garden bed was cleaned out, weeded and made ready for spring, landscaping around the side porch was trimmed and raked and finally, a HUGE pile of brush, bushes and vines were chopped down, pulled out and bagged. Our LaSallian friends filled 40 yard bags full of organic debris.
I waited until the last volunteer drove away, thinking about these nice people I had just met; many folks had cleared busy Saturday schedules in order to volunteer. Some folks were leaving from Penndel and going to kids soccer games. One gentleman spent his birthday clearing brush. As I surveyed all that had been accomplished I thought about what a great community we have and how we really are a community willing and ready to help. And just how fortunate BCHG is to have such support from so many. And everyone works so hard and so faithfully. So LaSalle gets a shout out but this goes out to all our volunteers…your heart of giving changes everything- and I mean everything for BCHG. Volunteers really give the best gift of all…their big shining hearts!