The Spirit of MardiBRAS and the Story Behind It (Event Feb. 17)

GallowayCollensTOPsunsetREVISEDThe Spirit of MardiBRAS Judy_Palmer30yearsand the Story Behind It (Event Feb. 17)

(Guest Column by Nichole Bruster, Feb. 7, 2015)

On Tuesday, Feb. 17, women of Ferndale will be gathering at The Loving Touch (22634 Woodward Ave) to raise money and collect personal care items for women that will be donated to four local shelters (All Worthy of Love, The Welcome Inn Day Center, Spiritual Life Center, and Renaissance Vineyard Church). The event is from 6-9pm and has henna, a cash bar, pizza and goodies for sale and raffle tickets for items from local businesses. Items needed include pads, tampons, baby wipes, and new women’s underwear and bras (in the package).

So how did this come about?

Reid_Sally_115As many people know, while on my leave from work I was fortunate enough to spend some time volunteering at the local rotating warming shelter. The experience was humbling and amazing and left me wanting to help more. I met some amazing people, not only the volunteers but the guests. They spent time talking to Noah and I, and playing with Ronin and above all, reminding us that life is sometimes a minute to the left or right. Noah is 16 and Ronin is 2 ½, but still very eager to help.

While talking to some of the people there, some of the Ladies mentioned that underwear was very hard to come by, even rarer were tampons and pads. These were items that people tend to forget are needed frequently.baby01

That got me a’ thinkin! I had already completed a clothing drive (which went to not only a family that needed it, but also 4 area homeless shelters… THANK YOU), but how to I collect undies and other unmentionables that needed to be mentioned?

Luckily I connected with a group of local ladies who had a similar thought process and had something in the infancy stages I was able to jump on and help with. Krista Johnston graciously offered up the space at the Loving Touch and some of my super-creative friends are adding their own personal touches. Co hosts are Michelle Paraday, Danielle Winne, Stacey Bellott-Jamison, Monique Herzig and Nan Kerr-Mueller, who deserve much thanks and blessings. And Renaissance Vineyard has helped so much.

Volunteering at the shelter was an eye-opening experience for me and my family.

seed020_heather_coleman_vossI met so many people who fell on hard times and just couldn’t get back up, Vets that the system forgot, young adults not much older than my son who felt the street was a safer option then home, or worse, their parents chose themselves/new spouses over the children they brought into the world. There were couples who worked daily only to meet up at a bus stop on the way to the next shelter to spend a few precious hours together before sleeping on a floor. Young Moms (dads too) who left their babies in trusted hands to try to get a better life for them, and some who just gave up.

These people shared personal stories to those who took the time to listen and not judge. And more than their fair share of advice on SEVERAL subjects (EVERYONE had potty training tips for my 2 year old and life lessons for my 16 Candlewickshop_May2014year old).

We found ourselves coming back on days we didn’t sign up for, just to talk or help wherever we were needed. About a week after our last day at the shelter I asked my son what part hit him the hardest. After a few moments he simply replied “twice it hit me hard. The first when we just stopped by the first night and men kept shaking my hand and thanking me for being there and then the night I helped serve food and saw how excited people were for the fresh cookies I passed out”. I was so proud of him.

He asked me the same question. Easily it was the first night I volunteered. It was so cold and at the end of my time I warmed the car for a few minutes and loaded my toddler in, drove home, tucked him in, turned up the heat and sat on the couch sideHeadLineswith the sandwich I made because I was hungry. That moment I thought of the people sleeping on a church floor. The men and women older than I who didn’t have the option to make a snack when they felt like it, or turn up the heat because of the chill. That hit me hard.

On the last night at the first shelter, I had the pleasure of sitting with one of Noah’s classmates Britt and an older gentlemen by the name of Willie. Willie kept charming Britt, messing with her and asking her to marry him, and playing with Ronin who was eating some pie.

In the middle of idle conversation he got quiet and started talking about Vietnam, He calmly said “Every night I pray God takes me. Every night I sleep with 150 faces I sent on. I have to drink. That’s the only way I can sleep. And it’s killing me.”lisa schmidt law

After a minute he came back with tears in his eyes. He told Britt some powerful things and asked if he could hug Ronin. Ro put down his fork and melted into the most beautiful hug. Willie reached in his pocket and gave Ronin a coin and told him to hold onto it always. Ro promised and hugged him again. It was an amazing moment.

Willie was worried he scared Britt and I and I told him. I may not understand, but I get it. I thanked him for his bravery, sacrifice and service. After a while he turned to me and said he’s drunk and tired. Hugged me and went to his mat on the floor. As I left he stopped me again and told me to make sure something comes of those boys.

As we all come together as a community, to run shelters, to do collections, I hope that they will grow up to do the same.

For more info on the event see our previous story at http://oaklandcounty115.com/2015/01/25/mardi-bras-event-collecting-womens-items-for-the-needy-feb-17/.

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