Brave to Share, Brave to Change Things

Recently I participated in a spoken event to help raise awareness, energy, and financial support in the fight against gender-based violence. Each person who stood at the microphone and podium shared their personal story with our audience. Our expressions in poetry and prose emitted daring honesty to reveal a time we had been powerless yet are now brave and confident.

Heartfelt words of encouragement from others gave me a level of pride, that yes, each of us can make a positive difference in our communities.

My personal experience with this issue comes from a dark point in my journey. As explored in my debut book, coming out soon, choices, and then consequences of those choices push me to the brink of changing my life for the better. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I’m faced with one more hurdle. When at this spoken event, I described this hurdle in my spoken prose.

An excerpt from “Living on a Fork in the Road”

I had no idea how to define [him] but had nodded anyway to their comment. I’d gotten my college degree in June [2010], then in April, still without a career job, I left Seattle with him. I had no family to help. We’ve traveled from Seattle down to San Francisco, east into Arizona and Utah, and west again, through Nevada. Six months out from Seattle, my goal now is to survive.

One woman at that campground had told me, “My husband and I can take you to a women’s shelter.”

Homeless shelters don’t keep people forever. That’s why I went with [him]— I believed it would lead to something permanent, unlike temporary solutions from agencies. He jumps another pothole, then swings his right arm towards me. I’m afraid in his reaction, but then he stops mid-air, damn-near hitting my face. “Ellie, why did you let me break the trailer door? Why?”

We bounce deep into a graveled stretch of road as he grabs his steering wheel for control.  I hadn’t noticed leaving pavement. Cacti and pine trees keep the world out. I can’t rule out he can pull over and kill me. He’s strong enough. And mad enough.

Dust kicks up. I grab my door handle for leverage, not that we’d crash into another car.  There aren’t any other cars [on our road].

He demands, “Stop that. Now, look—you’re upsetting Manny.” (Manny was his dog, at twenty pounds of white matted fur).

He swings his right arm again, this time pushing me deeper into my seat. He corrects his driving one-handedly, screeches to a stop, turns the ignition off and pockets his keys. “I hate you, Ellie…. I (expletive word redacted) hate you, Ellie.”

What difficulty has personally touched you? How can you share your story with others? What will you do to create positive change in our community? Please share in the comments.

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Helping Senior Citizens, Volunteering

Recently, I helped put together Senior Boxes, working at the warehouse for the Freestore Foodbank, here in Cincinnati. We filled several hundred boxes with essential food items. These boxes will be given to the elderly in our community.

Retirement, loss of a spouse, and increasing health care expenses can make a senior citizen vulnerable to financial struggles. These Senior Boxes help ease their difficulties by ensuring they have food to make their meals.

There is an abundance of ways we can help the older folks in our communities. Here are a few ways:

Visit someone who resides in an assisted living facility or a retirement home.

Bring along a board game or cards, a book to share, a home-baked treat, or a care package.

Or, if someone you know is elderly and lives in their own home, give them a call to see if you can stop by for a visit. Offer to fix little things around the home. If it’s winter time, shovel snow from their driveway.

In our busy schedules, even a quick hello can brighten their day.

Help those who can no longer drive. Take them to their appointments and help them run errands. You can even bring your briefcase or laptop and then wait for them in the lobby while they see their doctor. You can also bring them along as you run your own errands, so they can get out of the house and visit with you at the same time.

Rich life experiences determine our character, values, and sense of peace. Imagine the many cherished stories, lessons and experiences our elders can give us.

We can make a difference in their lives.                                                                   Sharing is quality time together.

xxx

 

If you’re like me, without a parent or grandparent of your own who needs some extra caring for, there are plenty of seniors out there who could use some company!

xxx

Several organizations help match volunteers to senior citizens. If in the greater Cincinnati area, you can volunteer as I did, by reaching out to the Freestore Food Bank. Another great place to get involved is through the AARP Foundation, found in many cities.

How about you? Has your life been touched by helping a senior citizen in your community? Share your experience with us by using the comment box. -Elle-

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