When I was 9 my life flipped on its head and all of a sudden my family's stability changed. My dad committed a violent crime that put him in prison for the next ten years, he was the sole provider in our home. My mom started working 3 jobs to keep our home for my 4 sisters and I, all under 10 years old, we also needed food stamps and WIC, and everything that goes with that. It was scary. It was hard. It changed how I saw myself and how I valued myself. It is a piece of my life I have not shared with many.
There was a handful of people who reached out with a caring, non-judgemental hand, that showed me I still had value. It was the act of showing that they cared and knew of me that helped more than the food or clothes. Those acts of kindness and love I still carry in my heart. I value them deeply and can not think or talk about them without getting emotional.
A few years ago I started to help Minda with another nonprofit in Salt Lake City, who delivered food for the weekend. Honestly it was something to keep me busy and my mind off a trying to adopt a second child that I had no control of. My heart was not in it, I was just escaping my reality and trying to move on.
But then I saw the kids, I looked in their eyes, I could see the fear and the instability they were trying to hide. I recognized those feelings I had deeply buried so long ago. It shook me and brought all those feelings back to the surface.
I realized I had an opportunity to reach out and show that unconditional love and value I had been shown as a child. It was then that my heart was in. It was then I realized how it was not about the small bag of food, it was about caring for the children who had no control over the choice their parents made.
The nonprofit was good, but it was not enough, Minda and I saw the need was year round not just in the school year, we saw a need for mentoring and developing. We started For The Kids. It is so exciting and overwhelming, but the need is so great. Along with the food which we deliver weekly for the kids to have throughout the weekend, we just coordinated the donation of 375 Thanksgiving meals for the families at the two schools.
When I was 12 my mom remarried, Lance adopted me and my four sisters. Our lives were better. Many people helped me and my sisters growing up. I can not repay them I can only pay it forward.