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Planting Seeds

August 6, 2014

As I was making a list of ideas for activities that I wanted to do with my young friends, the irony of the one I had just written stopped me in mid-sentence and caused me to chuckle and reflect on the duel meaning. I had written “plant seeds”. Ironically, I am in the homestretch of what has been the most filled and busy summer of Hope and Friendship yet. Each of the 8 ½ years I have tried to offer opportunities for socialization, adventure and memory making moments for our young friends who live in homes that do not get the luxury of Summer trips, vacations, or “thrill days”. My goal for summer #1 (in 2006), and still is today, that upon returning to school they every child would have a smile on their face and memories in their hearts and minds of fun interactive moments that lifted them up and made them feel loved, treated, and hopefully a bit happier for having joined in on the Hope and Friendship Summer Fun. Prior to this summer I saw more need, so I committed to stepping it up and creating more memories, more foundation of friendships, and time committed to building sincere relationships between our young friends and our amazing compassionate “just a bit older than young” friends who cared to offer their time to this mission as well.
My goal was that we, in essence, would be planting seeds.
Isn’t that what should be on each of our every day “to do” lists? Planting seeds of concern, friendship, assistance, wisdom, compassion and faith. Investing time, energy, love, and concern for every person, first and foremost in our home, and then to all within our reach. We may never, ever know if that seed rooted and helped that person to be more enriched, fulfilled, and capable of, in turn planting positive and empowering seeds of their own, but we should be purposefully and determinedly planting those acts of kindness, opportunities to listen, offerings of prayer, concern; love, or in the very simplest of attempts simply being as kind as we can to all whom we meet.
Recently I sat with a friend and during that visit I told this parent of a gravely ill child to not give up, to hold fast to every glimmer of light and hope they saw while they walked through this most difficult and arduous chapter of their lives. I tried to put hope and light in a most stressfully dark and hope strained situation. Later I thought about this and felt I had just simplified and clichéd a life and death situation putting it in a tidy “do it for the Gipper” box. I felt embarrassed for not completely and fully putting myself in that parent’s shoes. I couldn’t fathom looking at my young child everyday and seeing a fight for life in their eyes when all that should be there is the fight to get out the door and run around with their friends until the streetlights come on and the lightening bugs come out.

I followed up by reaching out to this friend and offering whatever I could, absolutely whenever they need it, starting with an offer of a Mission Stay Saturday visit. Mission Stay Saturdays have touched the lives of friends who are physically, financially and emotionally strained. What we do on a Saturday morning will not solve their exterior home work for the summer but it extends to them a whole yard clean up, and completion of small home repairs, that they may not have time, resources, or physical ability to resolve themselves AND it offers them the impact and power of seeing this amazing group of friends (some they may know, but most they have never met and may never see again) uniting together to offer them not only free labor but more importantly the gift of a unconditional act of kindness.

We as a body of friends, conduits from those who have to those that need, join together to meet needs like this on a daily basis.
Every home has it’s burdens. You have provided local labor work, short term assistance and essential relief to homes that desperately needed your compassion, time, and effort.
Every parent has their breaking point. This summer you helped to gift 9 acts of kindness to local households in need with children. Homes that work hours are either extremely long, or painfully cut; money for the bills is short; stressors are high; hope is low.
Every person has their emotional and spiritual end of the rope that will not just be found once, but may be reached multiple times in one’s life. You have not only helped provide a knot at the end of that rope, but strength to hold on by simply allowing a gift of relief in finances, physical assistance, or a very needed opportunity for a heart to heart for one who might have otherwise released their grip and given up.
A need becomes apparent. I present that need, a desire and an idea to meet that need. You have stepped forward, time and time again, to try to help assist with that need with your surplus, your generosity, or your most valuable time, efforts and talents.
Over this summer, friends of Hope and Friendship have
* Assisted 22 homes with Mission Stay Saturday work.
* Provided the support to allow 15 of our youth to take a trip to the Joliet Slammers Ballgame, a first time trip out of Lemont for some & a first time ball game for a few. (So grateful for a very generous friend who donated to make this gift reality).
* Repaired a broken lawn mower for a very financially strapped family.
* Gifted time, food and attention to many, many of our youth during YEAH Day lunches at the Park (assisted by Calvary Church, Emmanuel Baptist Church, and sponsored by a few generous friends as well as 3 Corners Grill and Nicks’ Tavern).
* Provided donations for 10 bags of kid friendly “gold” food as well as gift certificates to ALDI to assist some struggling homes with the cost of feeding the kids through the summer (special thanks to the Lemont Christian Ministerial Association & Emmanuel Baptist Church for their most generous donations to make this needed and appreciated gift possible).
* Built a handicapped ramp enabling a wife to visit her ailing husband (64 years married) and then providing the ability for him to enter home upon his return.
* Gifted our young friends with the opportunity to visit “The Shop” during this year’s UnBirthday Party (allowing them to choose from personal care products, games, books, school supplies and items that you donated and they carefully and thoughtfully took their time to choose through as their gift from friends).
* Bequeathed 5 oil changes at Hayes Auto Services for friends who otherwise would have had to put that need aside for other pressing bills (thanks to Bill Hayes for working with Hope and Friendship on this much needed gift).
* Gifted “Back to School” Haircuts that provide a luxury and feeling of pride for many of our young friends, gifted by our friends at Nail Inn, in downtown Lemont. (aka. Michelle Zaper).
* Allowed our young friends to enjoy a night at the pool (thanks to a generous allotment of the evening gifted by Lemont Park District) complete with snacks, school supplies, tie-dye shirts (courtesy of the time and talents of the Lemont Juniorettes).
* Time spent visiting the Emergency Vehicle Car Show with the added bonus of an Ice Cream Social (thanks to friends Community Christian Church).
* Rebuilt an exterior outlet making it capable to run a whole house generator for a friend who lives with health issues that make having that ability to “plug in” during a power outage the difference between life and death.
* Assisted with a few unpayable water bills, Com Ed bills, and a couple offers of assistance with food, clothing, baby needs (Thank you doesn’t express fully the gratitude for those unsung and unheralded walking angels who continually financially support these efforts and relief that simply can only be met with funds. Thank you for being that friend who provides a glimmer of light in a dark place.).
* Offered gently used furniture and a couple appliances that were no longer needed in your home but very much needed in another, filling voids in that home that would have taken funds from much needed areas they were already delegated.
As much as I do, as much as you offer, as much as we feel we are doing, more needs occur, more voids appear, more heartache happens, more support from friends will always be needed, appreciated, and necessary. Just today two friends contacted me, who are no stranger to struggles, have just been leveled with health conditions of serious circumstances for either themselves or their immediate family. We’ll be able to extend some assistance to their households in the upcoming weeks with already scheduled events, but I know when they find there might be something they need it will be met because it is not about accolades, credit, or front page stories, it is about an army of walking angels who reside in this amazing community that have embraced the reality that what may be able to be offered from one home meets a most dire need in another. You have mastered this concept and made it a well-oiled machine of peace & love! If we could just bottle this and share it with the rest of the world our littlest ones would see their great, great-grandkids grow up in a peace filled world. For now we’ll just keep perfecting this here in our corner of the world hoping the ripples continue to reach further than we will ever see in our life time.
To learn more about current and upcoming acts of kindness:
Visit http://www.hopeandfriendshipfoundation.com (a website generously and amazingly created by http://www.VisualWebsite.com ),
email info@hopeandfriendshipfoundation.com to be put on the email list or if you have offers of any gently used furniture/appliances (currently seeking a washing machine, a small kitchen table/chairs, a full size bed),
and be friend’s with Hope and Friendship on Facebook (Facebook Page: Hope and Friendship Ministries).
Wishing you peace,
Terri
Terri O’Neill-Borders
Email- terri@hopeandfriendshipfoundation.com
Website- http://www.hopeandfriendshipfoundation.com
Wordpress- https://hopeandfriendshipfoundation.wordpress.com/
Hope and Friendship Foundation
721 Hickory St, Lemont, IL 60439
630-816-4972
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31: 8-9

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