Many people erect memorials to themselves, and others donate enough money to an institution or charity and have their name slapped on a building. I came across a different memorial last weekend that won't make the headlines, nor will it attract visitors, like many memorials do, but it has been in my heart, and on my mind all week long and I need to share it with you.
Dr. C and I joined about 1500 members of our church for what they call "Community Serve Day", a Sunday when church members volunteer at sights to clean up, or paint, or pack boxes for needy families; there were all sorts of choices, but we were asked to help with a project, which I knew nothing about, an apartment complex run with a charity here in San Diego called Casa de Amparo, this complex will help transition foster children after they turn 18. Casa helps them to find housing, jobs, or job training, and our mission was to help to clean and fix two apartments that were owned by George.
George met Richard when George was serving dinner in a homeless shelter and 13 year old Richard asked for a blanket; abandoned by his parents, George began taking Richard home with him, and eventually adopted him. Richard was a star athlete at Oceanside High School here in San Diego, graduated, and served in the Army. Richard served two tours in Iraq, and was killed by a roadside bomb in 2007. Richard's life insurance policy paid for the apartment building that we were working in, to help other foster children to transition into the community, and grow. The story broke my heart, but also lifted my spirits to know that unconditional love and George taking a risk, gave Richard a better life, and George wants to help other children in the foster care system to find a better life. (this is the link to Richard's obituary in the LA Times)
All of us had an amazing day at this site, as you can see by the group shot at the end of our day, but to the person, we all wanted to come back and do some more ---how often are you touched that deeply to want to make hard work a habit? I have to admit, Dr. C. and I were sore in places we didn't know could get sore!
I tend to live in a bubble most of the time, places like Casa de Amparo are charities I hear about, and may donate to, but I don't get dirty; I'm willing to get dirty to help children like Richard start out their lives in a clean, safe environment. I learned a lot of lessons last week, probably more than I learn in a month of Sundays in a church building, but none was more significant than the fact that we can all make a difference by helping one person at a time.