Homelessness & 5th Graders

Yesterday was one of the best speaking engagements I’ve ever had! Why? Because I got a chance to speak to a classroom of bright, articulate, intelligent, and hope-filled 5th graders at Cheatham Hill Elementary.

I was invited by an educator who recently learned about LBW (Ms. King), and what we are doing to raise awareness about homelessness and other issues in the city (ATL) and country. Ms. King asked me to share stories with her class that paralleled a non-fiction novel they are reading. The novel contains stories of homelessness, and the stories I’ve experienced (while homeless for three days) bring those non-fiction stories to life.

As I shared, I began to see many student(s) faces light up while they listened intently… Also, I started to see lights go off in their heads.

After I gave my talk, it then dawned on me–homelessness is connected to so many educational topics! One student asked, “Why are families broken…” another “Why are people poor in this country…” yet another “What are we so wasteful in this country…”

These bright students raised questions about sociology, psychology, economics, politics, and public health. I was intrigured and even inspired with how concerned these kids were with people who they don’t know (the under resourced).

I answered a couple of questions, and then this group of students asked if they could help #lovebeyondwalls with a project. It just so happened that #lovebeyondwalls is adopting 30 orphans in India (from the Dalit community) in the month of April.

They are in need of shoes and other small items, and these students vowed to raise the resources needed to supply these orphans with resources. It became a class project instantly.

So not only was my conversation filled with different areas of study, it became a beautiful picture of kids serving kids that do not have anything. Below are the two pictures! One picture are the orphans, and the other picture are the students that will help the children in India through our #lovebeyondborders campaign.

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Terence

The Countdown Begins (2 DAYS LEFT STATS)

During my personal research this morning, I was inspired through many of the stats that I came across! Why? Because many of them touched my heart.

In fact, while walking thirty miles, I am going to post many of them on my social media platforms. Below is one stat that really hit close to home…

VFH-Stat 1

Terence

 

The Countdown Continues (3 DAYS LEFT HELP US PLANT)

Are you like me? Sometimes it’s hard for me to be vulnerable and ask for help... LOL. Not in a bad way, but when it comes to asking for financial support it is tough.

Well, I’m in a place where I can’t be uptight any more. God is definitely doing something with #lovebeyondwalls, and is pushing us to take a leap of faith even more.

Last month, we were introduced to a local building in our area (the picture is below). This building could possibly be the starting place for the #lovebeyondwalls team.

In fact, it will give us a greater opportunity to HELP & SERVE more people. And, if we can do that, more life change can happen! Did you know in less than three months we have mobilized over 1K people to get involved in our campaigns, over 20 businesses, and have grown our social media platform by 1000%… This is not to brag, but to say maybe God is up to something!  

Here is the actual building:

possiblehome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, we still need your help… We need your help to secure our first office space. It will take at least 10K to get in this building and operate for one year. What will we do in the building? I’m glad you asked.

1) Base – This would be our base to work from, dream, raise up leaders, and collaborate more to impact the area around it, and the city of ATL.

2) Storage – We would use this place as storage and a place to get more organized to lead more community engagement projects.

3) Train – We would train, teach, and lead people on how to do what we do.

4) Restore – We would use it as a place to counsel, build relationally with people, and work to restore the lives of those we serve.

Our goal is to raise 10K… We have a gofundme page, and a starter amount of 5K. If we could get 200 people to give $25 this would give us half of our budget to secure this place.

Therefore, not only are we walking to raise awareness, we are walking to get planted to HELP more people.

If you would like to give, please visit our page [HERE], and consider making a contribution. I believe that we have the opportunity to change the world around us for God’s glory. I personally ask that you would consider helping us to get planted and established.

Terence

 

 

The Countdown Begins (DAY 16 1000 SHOES)

Yesterday, I was inboxed over Facebook by a mother from a Church I recently interviewed at (West Ridge), and she inquired about our March Campaign to raise 1000 pairs of shoes!

Why? Because I briefly shared that we would focus on shoes in the month of March from stage. In fact, after I shared what we were doing, somebody placed their shoes in an offering bucket, and a few kids came up to me after service and donated their shoes on the spot. How cool is that? VERY!!!! Here is a picture…

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Yes, in March #lovebeyondwalls is raising 1000 pairs of shoes to resource those in need in ATL. I briefly mentioned my discovery of homelessness, and how homeless people have to walk tons of miles to survive. In fact, I walked 20+ miles myself when I was homeless for 72 Hours.

What broke my heart though is when I would ask my friends (who sometimes did not have on adequate shoes) how many miles they had to walk per week? Some responded, “30, 50, and even 70 miles per week…”

“With those shoes…they are not in good shape” I said.

“Yes, with those shoes…” they responded.

Therefore, I vowed to walk 30+ miles on behalf of my homeless friends to raise 1000 shoes to give away to any homeless person we encounter in March. Children, women, or men. It doesn’t matter.

Today, I am encouraged though. Why? Because one of the first people to want to raise shoes for us is a six year old girl… We are calling the campaign #givemilesaway! Why? Because shoes are like tires to homeless people.

Here is the inbox message I received….

inbox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can you get involved? Come and join us at our love rally and bring shoes to the finish-line! Below is the flyer for where you can meet us when we finish our #30mile walk!

LoveRally-Instagram

Terence

The Countdown Begins (DAYS 20 & 19 No Looking Back)

This morning is bittersweet (4AM)! I am rejoicing, but am still very much reflective about the realities of how much work building an organization takes. LOL. It takes work people…

Why bittersweet? Because I am on day 4 of my juicing, 19 days away from walking #30miles, and it is extremely hard. I have put in almost 31 DAYS so far to transform my health in order to walk to raise awareness for those who are forgotten.

In fact, I am reflecting on a well-known passage in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) “My Grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.”  It has taken focus, accountability, and being honest (God’s strength).

I have tons of days to go on my juicing, a little more “mile prep” to endure, and am praying almost every second. Additionally, I had a few challenges last week that were real, eye opening, and made me rethink some things!

You know… the type of challenge that makes you think about entering back into your comfort zone? Or, the type of challenge that is both unexpected, and catches you totally off guard and whispers “LOOK BACK!”

If you are alive, you can relate. In fact, it seems like challenges (or bumps in the road) come when you are moving forward, and have a desire to overcome. Have you been there? Have you tried to move forward, and something unexpected tried to knock you back? If so, I can relate and want to encourage you to count your wins, not your losses.

Now the sweet part…

Yesterday, my team and I got  a chance to interview at West Ridge Church and share the story of #lovebeyondwalls!

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The cool thing that really inspired me NOT TO LOOK BACK (even when faced with unexpected challenges) was Robert. Who is Robert? You may remember my homeless friend from a previous blog. I met him under the bridge when I was homeless for three days… Robert attended worship with us, and looks lot better. Is he fully changed? No. But, we are taking small steps forward with him (and, most importantly building a relationship (not giving hand outs).

I have kept in touch with him for almost three months, and we are working hard to give him responsibilities to restore dignity back to him. Below is the before and after picture:

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Also, later that evening we visited Relevant Church and found out that this church (pastored by Carl Nichols) had a “LOVEKIT” party and raised 289 “LOVEKITS” for us to distribute this coming Saturday (15th).

Here is that picture:

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Here’s the bottom line, when challenges come they will try to break your focus, but you must have a resolve in your heart not to look back.

Terence

 

The Countdown Begins (29 DAYS LEFT – Four Reasons to Walk)

Yesterday, I received a few emails from people asking me, “Why are you walking so far for homelessness?” or “Can I walk with you?” Well, you’ll find my answer in the four points and picture below:

 1) I am walking because I believe the voiceless often times go unheard — There are many people who have hit rock bottom, and have had a hard time recovering from that low place. You’ll never hear their stories, or see them on the news. Nonetheless, their stories MATTER (no matter where they are, or what happened). Therefore, #lovebeyondwalls would like to sacrifice our time and energy to do something that will uplift them.

Maybe you can relate with being voiceless… I know many of us who were trapped in cars the other day for hours and hours can relate.

2) I am walking because of my homeless friends under the I-20 75/85 bridge — There are many that I have befriended under that bridge. In fact, they call me every other day, and I truly care about them. Of course I don’t have tons of resources to pull them off the streets (yet), but I listen to them, know their stories, shed tears with them, model Christ to them, and consider them people that God loves dearly. And, if God loves them, I am going to love them too… Hopefully, my walking will inspire someone to come along side #lovebeyondwalls, and help restore “some” that want to be restored.

3) I am walking to teach people what I’ve learnedWhile homeless around Christmas time, I learned five lessons from walking in the shoes of the homeless. And, I would like to share those lessons. One of the lessons has to do with walking. When you are homeless, there is non-stop physical movement… especially during the winter months! Without the ability to walk, you could stay somehwere and literally die (if you don’t have that ability or support).

Do all people who are homeless have to walk? No. However, many people who stay on the streets do…

4) I am walking because of the picture below — Below is a picture of one of my homeless friends that uses socks for shoes. Have you ever walked miles in socks? I haven’t either. Therefore, not only am I walking to raise awareness, restore dignity, and mobilize people — I am walking to help some people get simple things like shoes to survive and live.

Short answer, YES people will join in at various points to walk… That information will come in later blogs…

Until then, continue to pray our strength as we prepare to make this journey…

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Terence

The Countdown Begins (DAY 34 FOR THE VOICELESS)

Below is a picture of me and my brother (Rahkeem)… These reason why I post this picture is because I truly believe in this young man. Currently, he lives under the bridge with his mother, and is only 19 years old. I make it my goal to spend time with him once or twice a week.

Why? Because I am building a relationship with him, and hope to grow #lovebeyondwalls enough to remove him from the streets. Yesterday, he read a poem/rap to me that he wrote for us… It went something like this, “Been struggle since I was thirteen seeing homelessness for me…”

He is only a kid, and still has so much future ahead of him! However, he is voiceless! This must end… I am going to sacrifice my life a little this year to make sure that people like Rahkeem and others get help, or at least be heard.

There are three ways we are planning on helping this young man, and his wife. I ask that you keep us in your prayers as we make preparations to do so in months to come. I consider this young man not only a friend, but a younger brother that needs a “hand up” not a “hand out…”

2014-01-25 10.28.09-1Terence

 

The Countdown Begins (DAYS 42&41 MUST STAY CLEAN)

Have you ever gone 3 full days or even a week without a shower or bath?

What about this… Have you ever stood in a line of 100+ to take a shower, and got discouraged by the time it got down to only 20 in front of you (because it took hours for you to go)?

Well, many of our homeless brothers and sisters experience this week in and week out. In fact, when I lived on the streets for three days, I found out that personal hygiene was hard to maintain if you are a homeless person (especially if you live on the streets). Why? Because there isn’t easy access to everyday products like toothpaste, soap, rags, lotion, q-tips, etc…  (products that are some times at arms length for us)

I remember day 2 when I went homeless… I decided that I wanted to take a shower… I wasn’t able to because a gentlemen fell out in the shower, hurt himself (causing blood to be on the floors), and they shut the shower down for a few hours (by that time, I was discouraged). It took hours for the shelter to clean it up and by that time, I was on day two without a shower… It was hard because I wanted to shower or at least keep clean, but wasn’t able to.

Point blank, it is hard. It is hard to maintain cleanliness when there are only “few” showers around the city for thousands of homeless people. Therefore, if you wanted to know why #lovebeyondwalls is collecting hygiene products, this is why… With walking in the shoes, and hearing the heart of many of my homeless friends… We have decided to provide hygiene “LOVEKITS”

In the month of February, #lovebeyondwalls is collecting “LOVEKITS” filled with hygiene items that will aid our homeless friends with items to survive on the streets. To participate, contact us [HERE], or simply drop-off items at one of our three locations on the flyer below.

LBW-LoveKit-Location copyTerence

The Countdown Begins (DAYS 44&43 WE NEED A SPACE)!

Hey everyone,

Today is the day after Martin Luther King’s Birthday, and I am reflecting on many things… Firstly, I am reflecting on Martin Luther King’s legacy, and my top three favorite quotes spoken by King… Here are those three:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”

These quotes are not only inspirational. They speak to the core of who I am… I believe life should be about God’s love, faith, justice, community, and relationships.

Second and last, I am reflecting on how tough this journey has been trying to lose weight and prepare myself for the next life-daring campaign to raise awareness. Also, #lovebeyondwalls is growing fast. Although we have many supporters, it has been a challenge trying to manage it all with a few. In fact, we need admins, social media managers, people to pick up donations, speakers for campaigns at schools, love team leaders to lead people out in the streets, and other roles to expand the vision [if this is you, let’s meet to see if you’d fit on our team… contact me [HERE].

Most importantly, #lovebeyondwalls needs a space. We are looking to secure an old office in the back of a church, a storage space we could fix up, or somewhere we can plant in for a year and build more (800-1200 square feet). Currently, we are a mobile organization with many working pieces. Why are we looking to plant and build? Simple. We have outgrown our home! Our garage in my home is no longer a place to store stuff. We have gotten so many donations in the last 30 days that our garage is filled to capacity (we can’t park our cars in it anymore).

If you are reading this, I need you to pray… Pray that we find a generous person, church, or business to donate an office space (in ATL), and pray that God keeps me strong while losing weight for our next big social campaign. Can’t wait to share next week!!!!!!

Why do I care so much? Because when I go out and saw that many of my friends lost everything when the city cleaned up under the bridge, it hurts… Below is a picture of the area without tents after G.D.O.T cleaned the area. I care because I would like to collaborate with people, organizations, and other agencies to sit around the table and collectively come up with solutions. Real solutions!

Many of my friends have to start over from scratch. Also, the video will give you a story to connect with and explain what happened… Could you imagine having a few things one day, and losing everything the next? Well, if you have questions… That’s why I am going forward with #lovebeyondwalls and our next campaign.

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Terence