Have you ever had a night where everything just seemed perfect in the world? You are so happy, everything feels so right, and you are being yourself in the process. When we visited Safe Haven Family Shelter that is exactly how I felt. Check out this personal story about that night!
“A Safe Place”
Almost everyone has a safe place; mine is with my mom. However, if you are a single parent living on the streets, you might not have a safe place. Safe Haven Family Shelter helps families in Nashville, Tennessee, have a safe home where they can stay until they can get on their feet. With a heart for helping others, I knew this was the perfect place for my friends and me to volunteer.
On March 27th, we loaded up our cars full of toiletries, books, clothes, food and pots and pans. Not only did we get to donate the toiletries, books and clothes, but we also cooked the families a meal as well. Ryann and I carpooled together and everyone else met us there.
When we arrived we headed for the kitchen, but we stopped when we saw there were two little girls playing. One, named Ariana, was four years old and was so happy to have a playmate.
After playing with the girls, I went inside to help cook the meal we had planned. It included spaghetti, garlic bread, tossed salad, applesauce, and cookies! Cooking for 40 people in an hour is a challenge, but it sure was fun. My friends worked on the spaghetti and sauce. That night Nick learned how to cook spaghetti and how to drain it. He then called himself the “Chef” of the kitchen. Jett and Savannah joined us for their first volunteer experience. Jett is a freshman at Franklin High School and is Savannah’s older brother. Savannah is an amazing singer and came to entertain the families while they ate dinner. Although Jett and I had never met, and he had never met any of my friends, he jumped right in and helped us cook dinner and bring in the donations.
When dinner was ready I talked to all the families about my nonprofit, Jumbled Dreams. I told them how much we enjoyed cooking for them, and then I prayed. After dinner was served a man came up to me and said, “Thank you for praying for us. Your story is so inspiring, and I hope my son is just like you. Will you keep me and my son in your prayers? We are moving into a house in 10 days!”
I was stunned, shocked, and all I could do was hug him. He wants his son to be like me and help others! Then I said to him, “Thank you, that is so exciting you get to move into a house. Your son will be amazing no matter what, and, of course, I will keep you both in my prayers. Please keep in touch with us and let us know if we can help you!”
I hugged him and then he went to eat his dinner. Savannah began to sing, and I noticed this young boy, who was maybe two-years-old, throw his hands up in the air and start swaying to the music. I couldn’t help but smile.
Soon Ariana, the little girl I had met when I arrived, joined in and she began dancing the night away with me and my friends. Later when Savannah finished singing, the little girls wanted to sing. We handed them the microphone, and, of course, we all sang, “Baby Shark.” After they sang that song, a shy two-year-old grabbed the microphone. At first he just held it, but then he began to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” into the microphone. Standing there with him at that moment, I knew what I was doing was right. Having a nonprofit as a teenager and balancing the twist and turns of life is very difficult. But the smile on his face was all I needed to know that all the hard work and effort were worth it.
When he finished singing, we all went outside to play with the kids while the adults cleaned up. The boys played basketball and the girls ran around the playground playing tag.
When it was time to go Ariana started crying. I asked why she was crying and she said,
“I don’t want you to go. You all are my new best friends.”
It broke my heart to leave her but I told her we would be back. Helping others brings me so much joy and love. It also teaches me so many things about myself and others in the process. Maybe what I’ve really learned is that a safe place is hard to find in a jumbled world.”