I believe everyone has a thread of compassion. Each person, a stitch, soaked with blood, sweat, and tears, sewn through the lives of those in need.
I arrived in Bellevue, Nebraska a young, naïve, divorced, single mother. It was the winter of 1985. I had very little in the way of money, food, furniture or clothing. Anything of value I did have before leaving Kansas was sold to get us to our new location. We were starting a new life. Our first Christmas in our new city, food and other gifts were donated to us. These weren’t just any gifts. Someone took their precious time to hand-crochet an exquisite queen-size azure blue blanket as well as beautifully crocheted blankets for the kids, and donated them to us. I used to try and picture the hands that put so much time and effort into making them.
Over the next few years, I raised my children as a single parent. I returned to school and got a good paying job. I re-married after five years.
In 2000, my priorities started shifting. Everyday I was going to work wondering why I showed up at all. My heart was no longer in it. I felt I could be doing so much more for the people in the surrounding communities where I lived. Inspired by a news story I saw on television, my husband and I started an organization to assist single parents and the elderly with free home repairs. The following year, after eleven years working in the information technology industry, I quit my job.
With the help of volunteers and donors, we were able to replace a roof at no cost to the homeowner. She was as happy to receive it, as we were to give it. We also did yard clean-up, and repaired some doors and windows.
Facing a bout of financial and personal difficulties of our own, after three years, we had to dissolve the organization and I started working again. We weren’t able to assist as many as we would have liked, but the driving force behind me wanting to start such an organization was the kindness shown me during my time of need. Compassion was stitched once again, in our lives.
We recently relocated to Minnesota. A few days before Christmas, a 64-unit apartment building caught fire in Burnsville, a neighboring town. Most families lost everything. The first thing that popped in my mind was “how could I help these people?” I arrived at work the next day and someone had sent an e-mail asking for donations for the families. I put a box of clothes and blankets together to donate. I have since started volunteering with the American Red Cross, one of the organizations that helped these families.
I have never forgotten the compassion shown my family and me. After twenty-four years, I still have all the crocheted blankets and they inspire me to act to this day, because I believe compassion was stitched in me.