Do you remember the story of ‘The Little Engine That Could”? How he wanted to get over that hill carrying his heavy load? He kept telling himself “I think I can, I think I can”. And eventually he could. And did. And was so very, very proud of himself.
My friend Diane (of Diane & Dean DIY) recently got to visit a little apartment that could.
This little apartment that Diane and I walked through was doing it’s job just fine. It keeps the rain off, provides cool air (and warm air on the 2 days that we need it). It has a kitchen, a shower and a TV. It was just chugging along.
But when we walked through it felt like it could use a little push to get over the hill.
Matthew’s Hope (a local homeless ministry) has 7 of these apartments in all and they have furnished them with items that were either donated or purchased out of necessity. Don’t get me wrong, they are a HUGE step beyond living in a tent or under an overpass. They just needed a little push in the right direction.
And Diane and I were up to the challenge.
We needed: bedding, artwork, a kitchen table and stools, curtains, shelving for kitchen and bathroom, shower curtain, wall hooks and rugs.
We also decided to paint some of the furniture that was in there to make the space feel more cohesive.
We made lists of things that we had in our homes, we texted friends to ask for items they could spare, and we went shopping.
Then it was time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We spent 5 days doing the work and let me tell you, we had fun. It was so much fun working with Diane, Dean and Matthew’s Hope handyman extraordinaire–Bernie.
We were dog tired when we were finished. But it was the kind of tired that feels amazing when you go to bed at night.
Even though we were tired and achy, we talked about how nice it was to focus on this at Christmastime. Neither of us were worried about wrapping presents or shopping for gifts. It’s amazing what focusing on the needs of others will do for your mindset.
Matthew’s Hope is located here in Winter Garden. The people at Matthew’s Hope rent these apartments and when someone needs a place to stay for a while during their time in the program, this is where they go. They give the homeless in our area a way to regroup, learn and achieve a new way of life.
I spoke with several people who where going through the program over the last week and they were all grateful for what MH has done, but none as grateful as Bill. You should go read about his amazing journey on Facebook. When I spoke with him, he said “There were times when I had nothing to live for, no happiness. But now there are times when I can hardly contain my joy, it’s just bubbling over”. Bill had been homeless, jobless and an alcoholic. He now is running the garden at Matthew’s Hope, has a place to live and is 2 years sober.
This is what Matthew’s Hope does. Can I get an amen?!
Women with children make up over half of the homeless population. During the school year of 2012-2013 there were almost 1.3 million homeless children enrolled in schools across America. That statistic is just counting the children alone. And Florida has the fastest growing community in the US, which means we have many opportunities to help pay it forward.
When we mentioned this idea of helping Matthew’s Hope with this project, the people at Ford (Southern Ford Dealers) jumped on board and donated 2 vehicles for us to use. Then Mullinax Ford donated towards our expenses for the project!
I love seeing big companies give because they believe in and care about people.
We were able to use these two vehicles for one week. Let me tell you, that was more than enough time for my family to fall in love with the F-150 truck. The boys kept asking if they could ride in the back. I, of course, said no in my very ‘mom’ voice, but inside I was sad because I loved riding in the back of a pick-up when I was their age.
Those boys were sad little puppies when I told them it was the last day with the truck, which they named Bob.
And I’ll admit, I was a little reluctant when it came time for me to hand back the keys.
Stop by tomorrow and see how this little apartment that could transformed into a beautiful little apartment that did…in a big way.