When I was younger, my hero was my grandfather. He passed away many years ago, however, one of the things he left me with, other than my love for him, was the idea that you always have to give of yourself with compassion and kindness. Although I may not have expressed that sentiment in every moment of every day of my life or shared that response every time that I should have, I realize now how important the message was when he voiced it to me so many years ago. Charity, then, began at home in these conversations with my Grandfather. Today, in a world filled with so much in need of attention, charity begins wherever there is a need. I have come to know this even more in the last year while interning for Showering Love, a charity organization in Broward County.
As a Human Services student at Palm Beach State College in the last two semesters before graduation, I was required to find a non-profit organization willing to take me on as an intern. I say “take me on”, because I, in my own right, can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. I am strong willed, opinionated, and passionate about more things than any one person should be. In my frustration and unwillingness to settle for any organization that would take me, I felt a bit defeated and frustrated with the lack of organizations wanting a student under their feet. My goal, initially was to get involved with an organization that challenged me. I looked for months prior to the actual need to. I was focusing on Habitat for Humanity because I tend to prefer a more physical, get your hands dirty, style of work. I was trying to get first in line somewhere to ensure I wasn’t emptying trash cans or running for coffee all day. In an effort to walk away from an endless search leading nowhere fast, I did what most do… started scrolling my Facebook feed. As I sat in my chair wallowing over failed internship requests, there it was, an advertisement for a mobile shower launch. This was more than a promotional post, this would be where I found not only opportunity but an accidental opportunity to learn so much more than I could have imagined.
Since that day, I have been able to work along-side an amazing group of people. I, not only, remember every day to be more conscious of other’s needs, but to remember that Charity does begin at home but can be discovered everywhere if you are open to seeing it. Through this organization I am not emptying trash or fetching coffee, although I have done both, I do so much more thanks to the opportunity afforded me by Jeanne Lewis and Joe Trembly. I have learned how challenging a fundraiser can be. I have learned how to talk to folks that I used to avoid conversation with for fear of not saying the right thing. These things are priceless as a Human Services student but even more so to a person who came to them unsure of myself, my purpose or my ability to make a difference successfully.
Showering Love is a wonderful charity that has become the catalyst for change in so many lives as they offer services, resources and most of all possibilities to those that need the assistance. I have been lucky to share this journey since the day they launched back in August, and I am one of the many who have benefitted tremendously from the generosity of Jeanne and Joe. With many events through PBSC, Broward Community College, radio and television already a part of their resume, nothing has moved me to find a part of myself working with this organization. Jeanne’s ability to be vulnerable to strangers and tell her story with a personal history experiencing homelessness herself, shows a level of strength that is unmatched by most accounts. To spend countless days and nights revisiting a life that was hard to live would be difficult for anyone to do intentionally. Whether she sees herself in the eyes of someone that she helps, or in the neighborhoods she frequents, Jeanne Lewis defines what being humble truly means in her everyday work. She offers to others what most people can’t find the words or time to, and she does it with such grace.
Giving back has taken on a new meaning to me since August of last year, thanks to one Facebook post and an inspiring story of perseverance. I know now that I am meant to do this with my life. I am meant to make a difference in some way, big or small. As I wrap up my last semester at Palm Beach State College and prepare for graduation in a couple of months, I know that the career that I chose, however late in life, was then, and is now, the right choice. Although this may be the ending of a term for me, it is about a beginning as well. The beginning of what I hope to accomplish moving forward. Jeanne Lewis Albaugh and Joe Trembly gave me the foundation for a career that I found myself living in through Showering Love.
I started this post sharing memories of my grandfather and the gifts that he gave me through our conversations. I have chosen to end this post in similar fashion. The influence of Thomas Mahoney, (my Grandfather), his words, his presence, has taken on a new life in me these days. Through the inspiration, the help and most of all the guidance he had given me so long ago, I was able to bring a part of him with me everywhere as I interned with Showering Love the last few months. Although no one can replace my grandfather, I am forever grateful for the opportunity that I have been given to work alongside these dynamic individuals who offer so much to others as he had while he was still here. I can only hope that whatever it was that made me stop and read that Facebook post in that moment of frustration, was more than a random occurrence. I may never know what the universe has planned for me in the future, however, I will keep my eyes open as I make my way down the road so I don’t miss the message. You just never know.