I was out of town when the Love Forward envelopes were distributed. The following week in church I learned about Love Forward and was so disappointed I had missed such a wonderful outreach opportunity. So when Allan announced he had several additional envelopes, I was thrilled to be able to participate.I thought long about how to use it and finally decided I would go to our neighborhood elementary and ask for it to be used in the lunch account of a student in need. Each day I planned to stop in I seemed to run out of time or even forget to stop. Finally I did to learn that very morning a student had come to the office stating their free-and-reduced status had not come through yet and paying for lunch was going to be a struggle. The office secretary had added some of her personal money to the account and said the additional Love Forward money would provide lunches for two weeks for this child.No coincidence I didn’t go in until that day, I’m positive.
After I received $50 in my LOVE FORWARD envelope I began asking God to show me where my gift of money would help someone the most. One afternoon, as I was driving through a Belmar parking lot, an older man with a bicycle began calling to me. His voice was urgent, so I stopped to see what he needed. He told me that he was in need of financial help so that he could pay his rent. He said that he had been asking people for help all morning and that he had been unable to get the money that he needed,. He was living in motel room that he rented for $40 a week. I asked ho much he needed, in order to pay the rent, and he said that he needed $20. I knew immediately that this was someone who could truly use my gift of Loving Forward! I gave him the $20 that he needed for his rent, and this ensured that he would have a place to stay for one more week. The man was incredibly grateful! I felt within me a moment of joy and celebration with this dear person, and the look of relief and appreciation on his face was worth every penny of the $20 gift I had to offer him.I continued to ask God to show me where the rest of the $50 should go, in order to help the person who could use it the most. While doing my laundry at the neighborhood laundromat, I began speaking with a homeless older woman who was sitting alone, staring out the window. She was very weather worn and her skin was streaked with dirt and grime. I could tell that she was spending a large amount of time outside. While I was speaking with this woman, I knew that she was the other person that truly needed some financial assistance of any kind. I gave her my $30. The deep look of appreciation emanating from this woman’s eyes touched my heart, and it felt so good to know that I was helping her so much!I loved this LOVE FORWARD experience! Sharing openly and joyfully the gift of money, to two homeless people who needed it so much was a wonderful life-changing experience for me.
Working with the board of a local halfway house, I asked the director to identify someone who could use a break. I put the Love Forward envelope unopened in another envelope along with a “matching” amount, assuming the highest , and a letter explaining the intent...no expectations and anonymous. I may or may hear how the gift was used, but will put another entry if I do.
Our family received $130 during the LOVE FORWARD campaign. We wrestled with the best way to use the generous amount of money. We talked about purchasing Thanksgiving dinners for families in need at Melanie’s school (Devinny Elementary), donating to the Wild Animal Sanctuary, compiling “goodie bags” to give to homeless folks who stand on street corners, and donating to a Colorado Rockies concessionaire who suffers from brain cancer. But nothing felt quite right.Our family was blessed - BLESSED!!! - with spending a generous amount of time with our visitors from Ghana Africa the week of October 3rd. All three of us we so moved by their infectious spirit of the Lord. They were very thankful for our hospitality, but honestly they gave us much more than a couple of dinners and whiskey ever could. Father Ben, Eric, Edmund and Reggie visited Melanie’s class and demonstrated how 4 humble men from halfway around the world could build a bridge of friendship and understanding between our two very different countries. One thing they asked was if our kids could help their kids. Their kids welcome basic supplies that our kids always know are available such as pencils, crayons, paper and picture books. As a family we donated $80 of our Love Forward money to the school in Ghana as a small gesture to help them purchase school supplies.We are confident the remaining $50 will be donated in an amazing way. Stay tuned...
Our $50 LOVE FORWARD gift was given to a single mother with two elementary age girls. The mother was laid off when the company that employed her for more than 8 years closed their Denver office. The stress of not having a job, and having trouble finding a job has caused health problems for her. We wanted to help her go to the grocery store with a little extra in her pocket. She is doing a fine job raising her daughters. The Love Forward funds helped us, help her, help her daughters.
I received $20 LOVE FORWARD gift from St Paul’s. This gift was used to purchase two $10 McDonalds gift cards that I gave to two different men in need. One man was on NE corner of Kipling and I 70 and other at SE corner of Hampden and I 25. Both were most appreciative and looked like the food will be not only well received but needed. Both were struggling with obvious health issues but really “lit up” when they received them. We also considered this $20 gift as a “reverse” tithe so multiplied it by 10 and have given $200 to the Denver Rescue Mission in support of meals for the upcoming holidays for more folks in need. Thank you St. Paul’s.
Holly and I decided to make a LOVE FORWARD contribution to The Mandala Center at Des Moines New Mexico. It is a non profit retreat center where they offer a beautiful peaceful quiet place for spiritual retreats and contemplation. We added to the money we received in our envelopes. I think it would be really great if we could promote a weekend for folks from our community to travel there and spend some time. The facilities are excellent and the atmosphere is delightful. They have a labyrinth. Holly and I enjoyed the weekend Qi jong workshop and learned to do some exercises and some chanting as well. It was a good retreat for us.
My wife got $20 in her LOVE FORWARD envelope, I got $5 and we decided to match the amount. I gave $10 to the Whitlock Rec Center. They offer public shower/day use for $5 and I specified that they may offer the passes to whom ever they wish. My wife gave $40 to pay for a patient in cardiac rehab. The fee is $40 for a month and she had a patient who she knew was having difficulty paying for the service.
We each received a LOVE FORWARD envelope and after a couple of days, we decided to give both envelopes to a family of four, who is struggling and in need. Their reaction was so heartfelt and emotional. “What a wonderful way of expressing love to people in need”, they said. Telling us that when they get back on their feet, they will return St. Paul’s expression of love by continuing the “Love Forward” crusade and asking us to tell you — “Thank you, St. Paul’s, for this wonderful expression of hope, love and prayer.” After services at coffee, we shared what we had done with our envelopes, after hearing our story, one of our friends asked us to please give her envelope to the family of four. She said the envelope initially contained $5.00, but that she had added more money. When we gave it to them, they were once again overwhelmed by such kindness. They asked us to relay their thanks to our friend for the love, hope and prayer that she had given them.We were initially torn between the this family and a single woman in need and believed God wanted to also give her a “Love Forward” envelope, so we put money in an envelope gave it to her. Overwhelmed with the gesture, she cried, hugged us, and thanking us over and over again. Finally, we would like to personally add a big thank you to St. Paul for giving us the privilege of giving and thus receiving such appreciation of love, hope and thankfulness on your behalf.
I passed on the LOVE FORWARD envelope to two people that are minimum wage employees that have given me great service at a small sandwich shop. I gave them the envelope “unopened” and told them that i am passing this forward and that it contains anywhere from $5 to $100. Share it between you and thanks for your great service.
I met a man who lives near Santa Fe Dr. next to the railroad tracks. His name is Danny. I am not a member of St. Paul’s. I attend Living Way Fellowship in Highlands Ranch. I happened to be visiting St. Paul’s the Sunday Love Forward was presented to the congregation. My relationship with you has grown out of my job. I was the bus driver for Georgine and Sally (and it turned out to be my last weekend working for the assisted living center).Back to Danny who lives next to the railroad tracks. Danny has attended my home church for about a year. I find him to be a rather likable guy for a homeless man. He’s well-spoken, but has many of the same recognizable difficulties as many homeless people I’ve run into in my ministerial career. I talked to him briefly last week and it occurred to me that he is a semi-regular attender of church services. After discussing it with my wife, we determined Danny would be the recipient of our portion of Love Forward. I didn’t tell him where the money came from; only that it was from the Lord. I can tell you Danny was grateful, agreeing to my request that he would use the money for something he needed, but not for alcohol. Thank you for including me in your day of blessing!
Gave Love Forward to a man named Michael. He is in his early forties (maybe) and flies a sign at the corner of 6th and Kalamath every morning at about 8 am. His face is brown and weathered by many years of living and sleeping outdoors. He is usually smiling and waving. He has alcohol use disorder, and at one time proclaimed his sobriety on his cardboard sign. When I gave him the contents of the envelope his eyes widened at the surprise of the denomination I presented him, and he let me know that his wife of 20 years was killed by a drunk driver about two weeks ago, and said he has been hitting the liquor store hard everyday to drown his sorrow. I’m sure that he will use the money for continued anesthesia. I totally get that. He says he is hoping to relocate to Corpus Christi soon to work in construction for his old boss and he smiles broadly when he says this. I wish him well and tell him to be as safe as he can. Interesting that he is looking to the body of Christ (Corpus Christi) for hope and redemption.
Our dear friends have a son who is autistic, and they recently started a non-profit called Teach Autistic Children Trades (TACT). Before the Love Forward campaign, we didn’t feel like we had any discretionary funds to donate to their cause. But with this campaign, we finally could.
It seems that sometimes it is hard to give money away. I had $10 in my LOVE FORWARD envelope and I thought of organizations, especially domestic violence victims and rape victims being very “poor in spirit”. Fr. A said if I chose an organization I should take the money in person. So I spent a few days mulling that over. Then I added double what was in my envelope and carried around in my purse. An opportunity never seemed to be there until today. I had picked up a friend to take her to an appointment and as we approached Wadsworth on 1st Avenue, there sat a family. A mom, dad and 2 little ones and a baby. I can’t even tell you what there sign was that the dad was holding and he also needed a cane. I drove around the corner and returned to a parking lot of a fast food place, parked and walked up to the people. What a blessing that was to my life as I handed the man the envelope and told him what had prompted this gift. I asked God’s blessing on he and his family and they thanked God in no uncertain terms for the gift without even knowing what was in the envelope. Then I got to share the Love Forward story with my friend that thought it was a great idea.
I saw Luis walking to the bus stop tonight towing his suitcase behind him. I was on the way to get ice cream for dessert when Luis walked by me in the street while I was at the stop light. When the light turned green I turned and parked at Dairy Queen and went in to order our dessert. Luis proceeded to walk down the sidewalk and then crossed the street to go the the bus stop. My mind kept referring back to seeing Luis and his suitcase going by and the rest of the world including me really paid no attention to him. God communicates to each of us in different ways and I knew that this was where God wanted me to give my envelope to. After I received my order and placed it in my vehicle, I walked across the street and gave the LOVE FORWARD envelope to Luis. The sparkle in his eyes and his smile showed how gracious he was in receiving this. Luis told me God Bless and thank you. Luis also told me he wouldn’t open the envelope until after I left. During this time that I received my envelope from St. Paul’s I was envisioning who I would give this to. God placed opportunities in front of me but they didn’t fit the vision that I was seeing. I was blind to my own vision that I wasn’t seeing where God had me giving this to others. Each day those opportunities are present for me and I have to realize that this is where God wants me to use my talents that I have been given.
I am a board member of the Native American Cancer Research Corporation (NACR), a community based small non-profit. NACR helps American Indians who have been diagnosed with cancer navigate the medical system, and NACR is are dedicated to improving the lives of American Indians. Cancer is a growing concern for the American Indian population, and NACR helps by providing consultation, education, training, support and research. Each month NACR provides a dinner for cancer survivors, their families and for patients undergoing cancer treatments. Recently NACR lost some crucial funding, and as a result had to reduce their visibility in the community. I gave the money (plus a little more) that I received from Love Forward as a donation to NACR. Although my donation will not replace some of the grant monies that were lost, it can help provide one of the monthly meals to individuals and families dealing with cancer.
I was in New Orleans soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of the French Quarter when I saw a very shabby man sitting on the sidewalk with his meager belongings beside him. Suddenly I remembered the LOVE FORWARD envelope in my pocket! I reached in and put it into his hands. He was very thankful. As I walked on I peeked over my shoulder and saw him looking inside the envelope with expectations! It feels good to give!
My LOVE FORWARD enveIope had $20 enclosed, and I added $50. The first experience I had using part of the money was fun and special because it was so spur of the moment and not really what I had expected. The college student who was cashier/bus boy/waiter at a small, inexpensive restaurant we were at was dealing with a large crowd (some of which were way less than patient and polite). He looked totally exhausted and drained, and it seemed that he sure could use some kindness. I left $35 for him in the Love Forward envelope. Since I did not wish to bring attention to myself, I left without knowing how it was received. My second experience was handing a gentleman $20 a few blocks from St. Francis Center homeless shelter. He was very appreciative and thanked me a couple of times before the light changed and I drove away. I absolutely love when I do things like this because it feels like I am truly active in this beautiful mission, even if it is a small part. I still have $15 — and I will allow the Spirit to guide me. My Love Forward acts will not end when the last of this money is given away. Thank you for this unique way of encouraging Love and reaching out to others. Brilliant!
I’ve thought long and hard about what to do with the money I received. I opened the LOVE FORWARD envelope because different amounts can help differently. Because it was $10, I decided to make it the first of my monthly contributions to a school in Uganda. We have so many opportunities to help and I wasn’t sure that my monthly contribution wouldn’t do more somewhere else, But I know that education can be the start of a change in the life of a family, and I want to be a part of changing lives for people who have so few other ways to radically change their lives.
The $100 I found in the LOVE FORWARD envelope seemed like other people’s money. I felt obligated to deal with it carefully and think about where it might do the most good. “Wait for a week and see what presents itself,” I told myself. I found myself noticing homeless people and was even approached for money. At the end of the week I donated the $100 to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless along that it be credited to evidence-based addiction treatment programs.
I carried my LOVE FORWARD envelope around for a week, feeling like I was packing heat. It was a conversation piece for a number of pleasant speculations and discussions. I was looking out for Golden’s homeless guy, but considered giving the thing to the richest looking man on the street—everybody could use a sign that the universe cares! I left the envelope unopened. Finally I delegated the joy of giving to a woman friend who doesn’t have a whole lot of money herself—let her know that she had to give the envelope away and get back to me what she did with it. She was so pleased to be included in this random act of kindness.She chose to also leave the envelope unopened, and sent it through the mail to a cousin who is struggling at the moment. I trust it was received in the spirit in which it was offered, and whatever the amount, it had to be better—as they say back East—than a sharp stick in the eye!
With the $5 I received in the Love Forward envelope I multiplied it by 20 and sent a check to an organization, “Bold Louisiana”, that is providing aid and relief directly to victims of the severe flooding that hit southeastern Louisiana in August, during which 13 people were killed and 60,000 homes damaged or destroyed. Bold Louisiana is affiliated with another organization, “Climate Truth” that fights denial, distortion and disinformation about climate change. As a scientist and Louisiana native, I feel strongly that this disaster was a direct consequence of our lack of care for God’s creation, and helping to support victims through these two organizations also helps to draw attention to our need to be more mindful of what we’re doing to the world that God has used to bring us forth into God’s creation. Our love should extend to the people affected by our lack of concern and care for this world and our environment because we’re all ultimately responsible.
Allison and I pooled our LOVE FORWARD money, added some, and then offered to help our neighbor out who is a single parent of two young kids and 4 - plus dogs. She needed workers to help in her yard to construct a fence to keep her dogs in when they are outside. This coincided with a request from the CCU Music department who is fundraising money for the band. We gave the money to the Music Department who sent a crew of students to clear space for postholes, and dig holes for posts for a fence to contain the dogs. This resulted in many blessings all around; improved old relationships, created new ones, and made life better for mom, kids, and dogs.
Incredibly, my LOVE FORWARD envelope contained $100. What to do with it was a no-brainer for me-feed people-as many as I could. Because Eiber is an integral part of our church community I investigated the best path to Love Forward. After being assured the lunch program was secure, I was directed to the problems faced by families who may come up money and food short each month. I bought gift cards with the money from King Soopers. I held $30 back for the couple of families I occasionally see hanging around the KS parking lot; so far I’ve given one of those away. I look forward to giving away the others!
My LOVE FORWARD envelope held $5. My neighbor, Laura, lives on disability and food stamps. Something had gone wrong on her Food Stamps and she hadn’t gotten her disability payout., While she helped me clear my refrigerator of food my blood test said I was sensitive to, she said she had only a few dollars in her pocket. I gave her the envelope immediately and drove her to a store. Giving her all the nuts, beans, frozen vegetables (green beans, broccoli and brussel sprouts) and eggs helped both of us. Me to avoid stuff to which I am sensitive and her to have more food choices. I also plan to send about $20 to the Indian College Fund.
I wanted to give to a cause that I don’t already support. When I learned from my son that one of his students, Jazlyn Rock (10), and her mother, Chelsea Falk, were critically injured, and her seven year old brother, Jeremiah Rock, was killed in an automobile accident, I knew I wanted to provide my “LOVE FORWARD” to that mother.
I received a twenty dollar bill in my LOVE FORWARD envelope, and thought how can I help homeless people with this money? Decided to buy some $5.00 McDonalds gift cards, to buy a hot meal for others. Ended up buying 10 gift cards and a gentleman in line asked me “is this for a birthday?” I told him some $ was given to me by our church and it will go to feed hungry people around Denver. He said put me down for one, and bought a gift card for the cause.I’ve given several away to people on street corners. Everyone who has received one of these cards has looked at me with surprise and without fail, has said “God bless you”. Today I saw two men with back packs sitting under a tree of an empty parking lot, I drove up and asked are you homeless, and the one said “yes, I’m taking care of my friend.” He was very touched to receive two gift cards. It feels wonderful to share some of the grace that Jesus has given to me.
I purchased a gift card at Sprouts and gave it to one of the students who attends my yoga stretch class at the Wheat Ridge Active Older Adults Center. I ran into her today as we were both shopping in the store. I carried in the gift card - not knowing who I was going to give it to. Then there she was - shopping in a mobile cart. She was very grateful for the gift. Our hearts were filled with love.
This is a follow-up to the previous story about Anthony, the disabled Vietnam Veteran. All I could do a week ago was to drop the Love Forward envelope into his baseball hat as I drove by, and yell “This is from my wife’s church!” Yesterday he was sitting at 13th Ave. and Monaco. The light turned red just as I got there, and dropped a dollar in his hat. I asked him if the money I gave him last week was helpful. He beamed, “Oh God bless you, yes! I’ve been trying so save enough to by a new cushion for my chair, and that will do it. Thank you, thank your wife and thank your minister. God is everywhere! You have a blessed day.” I told my wife this when I got home, and she was very grateful about his response as I was.
I recently visited some college cronies in Oregon. I took my LoveForward envelope with me. While I was there a close friend’s home burned completely to the ground. His family of four, including two kids, lost everything. They were renting the home. He was unemployed with not not much money. I gave my LoveForward envelope to my friend to pass it on to the family. Told my friend that the envelope was a gift from Jesus. No matter where a personal crisis might occur, someone needs love and assistance. This just happened to be in Oregon. I just happened to be in a position to help a family in need.
I took my time deciding to whom I would give my envelope.Then on my way to church on Sunday I saw a street person who frequents a spot at Sheridan & Florida. I handed him the Love Forward envelope. He overwhelmed me to the point of embarrassment with his enthusiasm by wishing me hundreds of God’s blessings over and over, until the light changed.
Rainbow Alley received $20. We want to say thank you! We will use the money to help support our youth.
With the challenge to LoveForward using the gift of money from St. Paul’s, my mind immediately went to thoughts outside of the church building. Do I have my gift ready for the next person with a cardboard sign on the street? Do I help the person behind me in the grocery line? There are hundreds of opportunities. But, within an hour of receiving the money envelope, I was presented with a need right within our own congregation. I won’t describe the opportunity here in order to maintain anonymity, but the sincere smile of gratitude and hug I received gave me the most heartwarming feeling. The lesson is, don’t overlook those whom you are so used to seeing to the point that you forget we all of our stories of difficulties and hardship, even the person next to you in the pew.
I received $5 in my “LOVE FORWARD” envelope and decided to share it with several people in downtown Denver. The first dollar I gave to a young musician playing drums on empty watercolor containers and trash lids. He gave me a nod as I put the dollar in his tip jar. Later that week, I gave two dollars to a man selling the “homeless” newspaper. He was middle-aged, African-American with dread locks. There was an older white woman with gray hair by his side. Since I had just returned from my trip to Beijing, China, I was wearing my “Oba-mao” shirt. The man complimented me on my shirt and I explained that I got it from visiting the Great Wall of China. Since I’m an Asian woman, he asked if that was where I was “from”. I said, “No, I was just visiting”. Then the woman asked if I was “there” when “the wall came down.” 1 - I was not, and 2 - it’s the wrong wall.I donated another dollar to the Children’s Hospital while shopping at the downtown Walgreen’s. I gave my final dollar to a man holding a sign asking for money for weed and food. While handing him the dollar, I made him promise to only buy the “good weed”. He said, “Oh, I only get weed from the dispensaries. That’s where the good stuff is. I don’t buy from the street corners.” What a relief!My experience from donating my “LoveForward” envelope didn’t dramatically change any lives. But it gave me the opportunity to speak to some people that I normally wouldn’t talk to, and perhaps that is valuable in and of itself.
For the past twelve years, I have been involved with Romanian Christian Enterpises (RCE). RCE is a nonprofit, Christian organization that started twenty plus years ago finding homes for children in Romanian orphanages. Today, RCE runs the first private special education school in the city of Arad, Romanina. It also provides other programs including residential services for orphans with disabilities, an adoption program for the children, micro loans to struggling families and many other programs. I have had the opportunity to travel to Arad and work with the staff and students at Sunshine School. This year, I was not able to travel to Arad, but the director of the program, Ovi, will be in this country for a fundraiser. So, in addition to supplies that I have purchased to send back to Arad with Ovi, I was able with LOVE FORWARD to get a few more supplies to send to the staff and students. If you’re curious, here’s the website: www.rcenterprises.org
Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this wonderful idea. I attend the Nishma service every Saturday and have found so much peace and hope there – it’s been a gift to me, as I had been searching so long for a church home and I believe I have found that. So, thank you for embracing fellow seekers on the journey. I decided to use the LOVE FORWARD 10 dollars I received, and add 100 dollars to it as my contribution for the St. Jude Walk Saturday, September 24th. I will be walking – and my heart will be full of gratitude. God Bless.
Remembering a few lyrics from a song from sometime ago:Bless the beasts and the children For in this world They have no voiceThey have no choice.I am sending the LOVE FORWARD gift with a matching amount to the Foothills Animal Shelter for food, medicine, etc. for the abandoned, homeless, and mistreated animals in their care. We are ALL God’s children!
Last Saturday was the second time I visited St. Paul’s for the Nishma service. What an incredible gift that I was there on the evening when the LOVE FORWARD mission started! How cool that I was included, even though I’m not even a member of St. Paul’s. It took me a bit longer than I anticipated to decide where to share the Love. But in my heart I knew that whatever was in the envelope would benefit any person or organization I chose to share it with. Today I gave the envelope to two young people at Rainbow Alley when I dropped my youngest off. Rainbow Alley is a safe space supporting LGBTQ youth and their allies ages 11 to 21, providing a drop-in space, youth-led events and activities, counseling and support groups, health services, and life services, all in a warm, welcoming, and supportive environment. I couldn’t be more grateful to be able to share the envelope with this organization. The love and support they have provided for my family is beyond words. Thank you starting the LoveFoward mission. I have been telling all of my friends and family about it.
I forwarded love to Chanda Plan Foundation to improve the quality of life for persons with physical disabilities. Integrated therapies promote wellness and healing for acute and chronic conditions.
My kids’ elementary school has a food backpack program for families in need. We decided to donate the money to this program which our school counselor runs. She was so excited and trying not to cry when we presented her with the envelope. My girls said they felt touched and happy because they know the kids that this will benefit. The counselor also said she wants to do this in her church. LOVE FORWARDED!
I gave my LOVE FORWARD envelope to one of our new workers at [our housing community]. He told me it was a blessing no matter how much $$ was in there. “This truely is a blessing and Thank You”.....He said.
I decided to double the LOVE FORWARD money and I sent it to my dear friend Stephen in Huston, TX. He has recently quit his corporate job in order to devote his life to ministry in the community. That’s quite a leap of faith to follow God’s calling to share the message of Jesus daily with others.
I gave $10 to a family with 4 children. They were standing under a tree between Applejack and the King Soopers near 32nd and Youngfield holding a hungry kids sign. I was glad that I also had a couple of the giveaway plastic bags in my car to share with them. The bags contain a bottle of water, cereal bar, crackers and peanut butter, tunafish, raisins, and a list of agencies in Jeffco where they might receive assistance. Their smiling faces and waves told of their gratitude. I find that the more I’m out there in the world (and paying attention) the more opportunities seem to arise to gently spread a little love, kindness, money, or other assistance to a fellow citizen of the world.
I was at Goodwill today looking for clothes for a costume when I saw a woman with a baby. I had just stuffed extra money into my LOVE FORWARD envelope. I looked at her and asked her if she could help me. I said that our church has a program for passing gifts to people and I asked if she would take the envelope. She said she couldn’t for her but could she pass the gift on to someone else. I said “ of course”. That is the whole idea. She grabbed me, hugged me and said- God Bless You. I said God Bless you as well. I couldn’t stop the tears from coming .
Drivig near downtown Denver yesterday, we saw a Native American couple sitting by one of the intetsections. We had stopped for the light and they really looked as if they could use a blessing in their lives at that moment. I pulled out my “LOVE FORWARD” envelope and handed it to the woman. I told her that I had no idea how much was in the envelope, but take it an know that there are people sending them love. The look on her face was absolute joy and gratitude. A huge smile with a few tears of joy. As the light changed and we started to drive off, they both thanked us and gave us blessings as well. Goes to show that what goes around, comes around. Made our hearts feel light and joyful.
My husband, Michael, works part time as a medical courier driving a route two days a week. He puts a dollar bill in his shirt pocket in the morning, and gives it to one of those individuals (several which he has come to know by name) holding a sign asking for help. Since he is out and about more than I am, I asked him if he would do the LOVE FORWARD for us. This morning he substituted the dollar bill with the $20 dollars in the envelope. He is familiar with Anthony, a 77 year old Vietnam Veteran veteran, who normally positions himself at 13th Ave. and Monaco. Michael asked me before he left if I would say a short prayer that Anthony would be there today. I did, and he was. The traffic was just beginning to move, and Michael was just able to drop the envelope into Anthony’s hat and say, “This is from my wife’s church!”I hope that Anthony was more than pleasantly surprised that $20 was there instead of the usual $1 bill, and that it filled a particular need he currently has.
I don’t normally give money to people who are panhandling. I wouldn’t have done so without the prompt of the LOVE FORWARD money. I would have driven by the man and wondered how the dog was doing. Because the money was what I considered a “small” amount, I wanted to make it “more” so I’d already decided to pass it forward, with just a little bit more money. And I thought that I’d just wait for the thing to come along that inspired me to give my $5 bill. I was drawn to give “my” money to this man in part because he was caring for a companion dog. I also thought it was an opportunity made for a simple gesture. He was asking for money. I could give him some. No big explanation, no big deal. And I was drawn into the invitation articulated by Allan to speak to the man, engage him in conversation. He made this particularly easy for me. He was affable, in good spirits, and he had a plan for his future. It was easy to stop for a few minutes and chat with him.
As it was the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, my son and I used our LOVE FORWARD money to buy cookies for our local fire station. We took this opportunity to say thank you for all they do for us and our community. It was a pretty unassuming visit. Most of the firefighters were out responding to a call, so we just left the cookies with the one fireman left. It felt nice to appreciate them in a small way.
I don’t usually give money to panhandlers but when I saw this women with her walker just as it was getting dark at an exit off I-70, I knew that I wouldn’t find a better candidate for St Paul’s LOVE FORWARD gift. Helping the less fortunate benefits them in a small way but it also reminds me of my many blessings.
I was given $10, I didn’t know at first how I wanted to use it. But as I was coming off I-70 today at the Kipling exit I saw a homeless man standing on the corner. I rolled down the window and before I even gave him the money he said “Good Morning beautiful!” I gave him the $10 and told him “God Bless you!” and he responded with “May God bless you forever!” As I drove away he blew me a kiss. It felt so good it made me cry tears of joy! I prayed that God blesses him with many more understanding people through out his day!
I made my LOVE FORWARD donation to: Mental Health Colorado, www.mentalhealthcolorado.org, an organization started by Andrew Romanoff. I chose this organization, because mental health is very important to me. I have a niece who is bipolar and my husband died in 2005 by suicide. I will probably also make a contribution to the Second Wind Fund, www.thesecondwindfund.org, which helps high school students who may be considering suicide.
It didn’t take much thought as to where the LOVE FORWARD money in my envelope would go. Over the last 7 years in Lions my heart’s project has been our Lions Camp (just outside of Woodland Park) for special needs people. The camp is a wonderful place for people that are living with challenges to have fun with others. Once someone has come to the camp once they can’t wait to come again. However, many of our campers either can’t afford $550 for the week or can only pay part of that amount (our camp is one of the least expensive camps in the area). This is where contributions will go to help the campers. Having worked a week as a counselor years ago, I really understood how the camp works for these people. It was such a rewarding week. Check out Colorado Lions Camp on Facebook to see many of the campers in their activities.
I did a web search to find charities that gave the most bang for the buck. I used the analysis from www.givewell.org and chose the charity GiveWell, which transfers cash to households in developing African countries via mobile phone-linked payment services. It targets extremely low-income households. To make it worthwhile I added $100 to make the total $110. It seemed effectively the same as giving something to a homeless person at an intersection, except these people are in Kenya, Ruwanda, and Uganda.
I gave my LoveForward envelope (with $10.00 inside….you can see through the envelope if you hold it up to the light) to someone who I knew very little about, but was struck by her exceptional generosity of spirit towards others.I had recently met this middle-aged woman at a local recreation center seniors’ wellness class that she was teaching. While she was excellent at demonstrating, coaching, and encouraging exercises and stretches, what really struck me was her genuine “along-the-way” kindness towards others. It wasn’t grandiose or life-shattering stuff that would get her on the cover of Time magazine. It was everyday caring and sharing in seemingly small and individual ways: caring and worrying about the grief suffered by a small, aged dog who had not only lost his adult Alzheimer’s human, but more recently, his older dog-mate – who he keep searching for throughout the house. And driving a very elderly family friend to & from some of the classes, followed with helping her bathe & dress in the handicapped-accessible showers. Seeing the need and filling the gap for those around her. Making that difference and preserving the dignity of others.She has compassion, humor, music appreciation, and a joy of life. I wanted to let her know how much I appreciated her authenticity and generosity of self. I wrote her a note on the envelope, urging her to use the money on something seemingly frivolous on herself, in the way of self-care and replenishment. I wanted her to know what a valuable example she sets for others like myself. So often, our communities focus on needy recipients and forget to nurture the givers.I have since learned from others that this remarkable woman has, in fact, suffered many losses over the past several years – family deaths, major motor vehicle accident injuries, with resulting career and employment losses. Making her all that more exceptional.The LoveForward project has given me a wonderful opportunity to reflect (muse, mull, and extensively ponder) on where I stand, what I value, how I can move forward in helping others…So many of us are in this quandary, especially in a time of such financial upheavals, unplanned “retirements”, devalued work efforts, unclear roles, uncertain futures, and unwelcome bitternesses. Persons of a certain age are being looked to as givers, volunteers, providers, sponsors, funders, and listeners. Some of us might need a little time for transition. Meanwhile, I hold such respect, honor, and gratitude for people like my new acquaintance. I hope this acknowledgement of her contributions graces her in some way. I’d like to think that she bought herself some magenta pink lipstick.
When I got my Love Forward envelope, I knew I wanted to give it to a first responder. I didn’t quite know what form that would take though. I spoke to a police officer who was sitting in a radio car outside of Saint Paul’s last week. He told me there was a fund for police officers and employees in the Lakewood Police Department who were in financial need called LPEAF. I knew I found what I was looking for.You see, I am a New Yorker and I lived in NY during 9/11. Several of my friends were first responders. I was a massage therapy student then and was honored to work on many of them. In the year that followed, while working in a physical therapy practice, I got to work on more first responders who were still carrying the pain of that day, long after life had returned to “normal.” One was NYPD from Brooklyn, one of the first to arrive on the scene. He told me stories each time we met. The one I will never forget was the story of his captain, who some months later closed the door to his office and committed suicide at his desk. All of us knew 9/11 was not just one day. But for the first responders, there were so many ripples of pain that so few of us know about. I believe it is this way with all first responders who walk into hard and painful situations. The job doesn’t end when the day is over. And most of us never know the half of it.Yet they get up the next morning and do it all over again. For us. And then some of them who are injured or ill get to face yet more challenges — the hard work of healing, being out of work, maybe not ever being able to return to work, figuring out how they will take care of their families. How do we not take care of the people who take care of us? So the LPEAF program really spoke to me. I walked into the Lakewood Police Department and spoke to a man named Mark, who is in charge of the LPEAF program. I sat there about 15 minutes until he came out and I watched the officers milling around. Most seemed heavy and burdened, one sounded kind of jaded and bored. No one seemed joyful. No one had eye contact. No one was smiling. I felt a little out of place and I was a little tense about how this all might be received. Mark seemed a little puzzled when I explained about Love Forward. Then he smiled tentatively. I told him why I chose this particular organization. I told him that their job is hard and I appreciate the special type of person who goes out there day after day to do what they do and if there are members of the department in need, I wanted my Love Forward envelope to go toward helping them. He smiled widely then. And he said he really appreciated the gesture because lately there hasn’t been great support for law enforcement and it’s been pretty hard for them. He thanked me. And I thanked him. That heavy energy in that room suddenly felt a bit lighter and brighter. Before I turned to leave, he asked me what church I was from, and he said he’d be contacting Saint Paul’s to follow up. We were both smiling when I left and my eyes might have gotten a bit misty.. Throughout my day, I’ve still found myself smiling at being able to be part of such a cool project. It was an awesome feeling. I love this church!
St. Paul's Episcopal Church9200 W. 10th Avenue, Lakewood, CO 80215303.233.4991