A number of years back, I began to notice what seemed to be a growing number of people panhandling on the corners of our city streets, as well as on the ramps of our highways and byways. “Who are these people, and how did they get here?” I began to ponder, stopping when ever possible to assist with five, sometimes ten dollars or whatever change or spare money I had in my wallet at the time, hopefully helping them in their day-to-day mode of survival on the streets in our area.
Each time I saw one them, I couldn’t shake the thought of “who were these people, and how did they end up on the street?” So much so, that it began to be the last thing I thought of before dozing off to sleep at night, and one of the first things that would come to mind upon awaking the next day. It bothered me to think that in a country that could figure out how to successfully put a “man on the moon,” couldn’t solve the problem of what I would come to learn were millions upon millions of people that are hungry and homeless in America.
So, I decided to approach one of them one day, to ask the question that had been so dominant on my mind. He was a sergeant in the United States Army, and had served two tours of duty in both Gulf Wars. He said that he found it very difficult to assimilate back into our society after experiencing the “hell of war,” as he called it, and as a result was living in a tent in the woods close by because he had no where else to go. He had no financial assistance from the VA, mentioning that there was a problem or mix up with his paperwork. “All I’d like have each day, is a hot meal and hot shower.” He’d say as he walked away to check on his things to make sure no one had messed with them. That comment has remained with me to this very day, and further instilled in me to find out more.
Each time I saw one them, I couldn’t shake the thought of “who were these people, and how did they end up on the street?”
Her name was Sarah, the second individual that I would ask how it was that she ended up on the streets. “A brain tumor, two brain surgeries, and bam here I am!” She exclaimed, frustratingly. She was from Savanah, Georgia and had walked to Central Florida picking up rides along the way. “Fortunately, there were no crazies that picked me up.” “You have to watch out for the “crazies!” She accentuated. “They can put you in a world of hurt, and make life miserable, if you’re not careful.” She went on to explain. A bit shocked that she had accepted her fate with such calm and dignity. “You never know what the big Guy upstairs has in store for you, it’s all good though, and a blessing to be alive!” Thanking me for my donation, and taking the time to talk to her as she walked away humming a song that I recognized from the rock group, The Band.
Don’t you think it’s about time we put the same expertise, time and effort into ending hunger and homelessness, as we do, putting a “man on the moon?”
About this time, I had started a small company that offered brand marketing and design solutions for various businesses and organizations. We realized that the creative, unique catchphrases we were creating for corporate America could be channeled as a catalyst to help the plight of many of our US veterans. From this realization we created “The V.E.T.S. Project” and began offering merchandise that sported our unique logo and catch phrase through a website that we designed.
(Read all about our founding program here.)
The interest generated from this program caused us to reflect on all of the other incredible causes out there that deserved programs of their own! This realization kickstarted us into forming the non-profit Choose Charities Corp. Our dream is to bring attention to these issues and harness the power of creativity to solve them.
This vision began when I opened my eyes to the reality that many of our fellow citizens are living in. We should never forget, we all are just a few financial, medical, economic or social hiccups away from being where “Sarah” found herself. Together I truly believe we can finally end hunger and homelessness in our country once and for all!
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The true measure of society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” Don’t you think it’s about time we put the same expertise, time and effort into ending hunger and homelessness, as we do, putting a “man on the moon?”