I have traveled to Santa Barbara several times over the last two years. It feels like home to me. Each trip here has me finding more and more layers to it. This past week I was exposed to just a little more…. I was blessed to be able to experience a conference this week that rocked my world. Basically it was an energetic/business gathering. I won't get too much into why I was there, but more into what I garnered while I was there. For years I have been saying I wanted to volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, etc. However, I never made it happen. Not really sure why, but this week I was able to take part in a group activity that truly changed my world. Another first!
One of the nights that we were at meeting, we were told to meet at 5:00 in our conference room to find out what we would be doing. We arrived to find bags of bread, jars of peanut butter and jelly, plus bottled water. We quickly got down to work and assembled as a group 100 bags of sandwiches and water to pass out to the homeless population in Santa Barbara. If anyone knows what Santa Barbara is like, you would be hard pressed to believe that such a population exists. Not only does it, but it is pretty numerous and all around from the beach to the parks.
We set out in small groups to areas that we thought might have some folks in need of a meal. The biggest gathering that we came to was in Alameda Park downtown. Sure enough, we came upon many folks that were truly grateful for a sandwich or two. We spent considerable time just connecting with the folks. They have stories, lots of stories. We met a young lady whose family had disowned her after her grandmother died for various reasons. We met a man who lost everything a month ago in Michigan and was now living in a park in Santa Barbara. He had an amazing attitude and said, "Hey, who wouldn't want to live here in such a beautiful place?'. It truly was a mind-shift for sure.
One of the take-aways from this experience that was a huge shift for me was their attitude of we have enough. What I mean by this is, we would try and hand them enough food for two days and they said no. They would only take enough for one and say, we are okay for now. Can you imagine? These folks don't know where their next meals are coming from and they still said they had enough. It was a huge lesson for me in abundance, being grateful and realizing that I have more than enough.
The homeless population in Santa Barbara is bigger than most people realize. There were two gentleman who actually did a documentary about it, the actor Paul Walker and his friend Brandon Birtell. The documentary was called Shelter. They worked with a local therapist who was a big advocate in Santa Barbara for the homeless. He has since retired. Unfortunately with Paul's untimely passing and the unfavorable response of some to the movie (Paul actually received death threats while promoting it.), most folks have never heard of the documentary.
This issue of homelessness is one of huge importance. I am so grateful that I was able to have this opportunity to spend some time with some of the homeless population in Santa Barbara. It certainly changed my view. I plan to look for more opportunities to help out this cause in the future. I urge you, the readers, to seek out opportunities to help out as well. It was amazing how giving to someone else, can give us more in terms of feeling so good about our own lives!
"I know I sound like a broken record, but 10 years ago I was living out of a garage and pan- handling, so just being a little comfortable is more than good for me. In fact, this is heaven." - Paul Walker to the Chicago Sun Times
Until My Next Adventure,
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