What is the Sequoia project?
Friday, January 29, 2010
Spent the last couple of weeks at a homeless shelter giving a group called “Life on Life’s terms”. The shelter has a year long program that people can take advantage of. It gives them a chance to think and put together their often shattered pasts. This shelter dealt mostly in helping Vets who were homeless. They recently started to let ex-offenders through their doors. This caused many to want to back away from helping. Just say that word and many are turned off.
Anyways, one of the founders of this program asked me if I’d come down and start a group. Talk to people and see where it went. Maybe I could help them believe that they are there, that exact moment, for a reason. The choices they make today is what matters most.
These are lives that have known and experienced some of the worst things life can dish out. Many fought for their country and then had mental health issues go unattended. Some found themselves sleeping under bridges and over heat vents. Many stayed drunk and simply stayed alive.
The group went well. Can’t share the things we talked about but it did matter. Lives were lifted up and at times put on the carpet. People were called out for their bullshit. They needed to be. Everyone around them seen that they had a problem except them (not everyone but a few). I wasn’t there because I wanted to convince them to change. I was there to simply offer a little advice and compassion. I did feel bad for their situations but knew they were the batters in their own lives. You swing at the pitches and either recover from a wild pitch or stay on the ground. What do they do? What do they do when laying on the ground is a lot more safer and easier? They have to get back up or will cheat themselves out of the rest of their lives. A future that will come from learning basic new rules to live by. Be kind to people and do the right thing. that’s it. It’s really not that hard and comes with many perks. Doing the right thing and being kind to people off springs amazing things.
One particular gentleman met was named Dennis. A large man whose past showed in his face. I’ve known him about 6 months. We first looked cautiously to one another. I wasn’t there to play any games or have my time wasted. He was the house manager of the place and felt the same way. As time passed he and I would have a lot of deep talks about choices made and climbing back up after being smacked by the ball. Getting back up is where the core of our real character is molded. We either have to or die. I once heard a phrase in the movie “Shawshank Redemption”. A prison movie. Morgan freeman said something about either get busy living or get busy dieing. He said this while being covered in steel and cement for a home. That saying has always stuck with me for years since. How true it is. We don’t have a clue what’s going to take place in our lives tomorrow. The earthquake written about in the past was an example. We also can’t live our lives in the past. If we stand with one leg in both the past and future we end up pissing all over today. An old and wise man named Leroy told me this once.
Monday, January 18, 2010
A 7.0 earthquake violently changed the lives of millions. In a blink of an eye life changed that quick. Loved ones are thought about and sometimes the news only gets worse. What is believed in most, at this exact time, is hope. Faith is used in the delivery of this hope.
What could one family do, 2000 miles away, that could make any difference at all? We could give money but not much of it around so were there other ways? What was the “status” of the help needed? What was actually being done? All this information was quickly known. We emailed different agencies and learned first hand what could be done on a local level. There was a blood drive planned, to replenish the shelves, and to be prepared for the next natural disaster.
We were sent an “official” news release about this event and made flyers out of it. Stacks were left off where people gathered in town. Stores, bars, sledding hills were targeted. Many responded and said they would make copies and pass the information to the people they knew.
On the internet names and pictures started to come in at a shocking rate. People were all seeking information about missing loved ones. Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, nieces with faces attached. Cries for help in locating these loved ones seemed endless. We had information that would be helpful but they probably would come across it anyways.
That’s when we decided to be part of the chain of people getting information out the door. We sent quick notes and letters to hundreds. Sending links to where there was possible news on the people they were desperately searching for. We had no idea if any of it would help. We had no clue what the results would be. None at all. Something just drove us to do what we could. It was doing the same to million, and maybe billions, of people. Certain events bring world attention. This was one of them. Te place that was struck already was experiencing hardships unimaginable. Before the earthquake many were making cake from dirt. Simply to trick their stomach into thinking it was full.
We wish we knew why faith is used after events that question its core beliefs of love. Why would this happen, along with the suffering of others across the world, if there was a “loving” God?
Don’t know the answer to these things. The answers will come….. Someday. Have to have faith.
We received an email that read this, in response to information passed on to them. You really never know how far a kind act can travel.
"My mother says thank you because since this happened my mother couldnt sleep or eat.She cried everyday and kept praying everyday for everyone and for our relative marie danielle janvier and her brother.Today around 1:30pm est we revieced the wonderful news that they were alive and alright.May jehovah bless america & the other counties for their efforts and haiti in this time In the name of jesus christ i pray amen. Keep HopeNprayer alive."
Monday, January 11, 2010
What was I doing picking this kid up at the jail on a Holiday? Didn’t Sandi and I have better things to do with our time. What about spending it with family and friends. Let the kid sit. He chose to do what he did, to end up in jail, so why should I care?
The reason we picked Karl up is because it was important. Where I was taking him was back into a community that he had once harmed. I’ve learned that a community isn’t just a name but its neighbors. Some know each other and some don’t. His actions put him into the “clink”. What he see’s and learns now will follow him the rest of his life.
The justice system is broke. It has been for many years. Do I want Karl to be my future “neighbor” after his getting out? A person that is worse off now, than when he went in. Its not like jail actually waves this magical stick and people are suddenly rehabilitated. Doesn’t work that way. America can strive for justice but it takes place in every courtroom in every town. That's where the roots are steeped. The correctional part, where the housing of people both convicted and awaiting trial are warehoused, is completely broken.
Karl didn’t see why compassion was shown to him by our family. I didn’t feel sorry for him. We wanted him to see that there were some people who believed in him. They would give him a chance to at least start making the right choices. We didn’t do this so he could have a great meal an check back in telling his buddies what a super time he had.
Karl washed dishes and passed out food an drink to others. He met people and was judged for the work and person he was today. A good kid who made some stupid decisions. When he walked back into the concrete cell he would feel proud of what he did. This is where change first takes place. Learning that we don’t have to be the screw up or the person who is most likely to fail.
This was an excellent project. Don’t be naïve in who you help and first do your research. Find out where they are with their journey of hitting dead end roads. Do what your heart tells you. Ours told us to do this. Does it matter? Some answers never are known. The goal of this project is not to really be concerned about all the “If’s”. Simply a seed.