I’ve been trying to figure out how to start this post, and I’ve written three or four sentences that although are grammatically correct, structurally sound, they do not convey the emotion that I felt on our Superheroes for a Compassionate Halloween event. I have been struggling with feeling, with reaching down on the depths of authenticity and ripping apart my heart for everyone to see, understanding that it is through this vulnerability that we are able to grow, and learn, and create change, and really live.
The event itself was a success. We distributed 108 chili meals, water, So_Delicious chocolate coconut milk, Bean Field Snacks chips, candy bags with treats by Cocomels, YumEarth, and other mainstream vegan candy. We had activities for the kids, we read books, we shared, chatted, planned, had fun, met great people, everything we meant it to be, it was.
There are of course a few moments where the heart transcends, and those feelings of connection are everything to me, and they are what keeps me going week after week, making chili after chili. We set up a sort of line, people would receive their chili first, then their water, then their chips and then the candy. The first rush of people that came by once we were set up were our regular Chinese ladies. My Mandarin is so rudimentary, that at best I come across as silly, just saying “hello”, saying “baby” over and over again at the kids, saying “food” as I offer them the chili. But even in that language limited interaction, there is a pure exchange of heart salutations, and I look forward to seeing them week after week. This week, as they were going through the line, one of them saw the candy and pointed to it, obviously saying “Can I have one?” As I was reaching for it, and all the other ones saw the bags, their faces lit up, so that all I could see were smiles around me. And it was such a powerful moment, to be surrounded by so much excitement and joy. It was as if the Universe were shining through them right at me, enveloping me in sweet light. I teared up right then, and I tear up now thinking about it.
Another memorable moment was Terrence. I don’t think that I have a picture of Terrence, even though we see him week after week. He is always very polite, a little shy, as he takes a chili and sits nearby to eat it. Last Saturday, he was there before we set up, so he just sat nearby and waited until everything was ready. He hung around, at times unsure of himself. We had cookies for the kids, and Terrence was right there as we were giving them out, so I offered some to him, and again, his smile opens up this portal of light, that makes my heart vibrate in joy. I later heard that he eventually asked to volunteer, so he took some chips and went around the park distributing them. And this, more than anything, encourages me so much, and steers me in another direction, which is that of facilitator. Encouraging the community to take ownership of this project, facilitating the change, so that it really is BY THE COMMUNITY FOR THE COMMUNITY.
The rest of the day is one blur of sunshine to me. Erica and Erin, vegan youth themselves, were in charge of the vegan activities for the children. The kids colored some farm animals and placed them in the Sanctuary, free to live their lives. Jessica read them the book Counting on Community by Innosanto Nagara. For the bigger kids we also brought Milk and Cookie a Little Spooky by Maritza Oliver about veganism.
It was an amazing day, filled with love and joy and cheer. We want to profoundly thank everyone that was involved, volunteering, donating, planning, and making it happen. Next stop: Thanksgiving! It will be our 1 Year Anniversary, and we will be right back where we started! Stay tuned, and get in touch if you want to make your Thanksgiving meaningful! I continue tearing down walls around my heart, and really letting the light come in, the Halloween cobwebs are removed, and we welcome winter with enthusiasm, knowing that our human connection can warm up the city and each other.
Don’t forget we are running a crowdfunding campaign to replenish funds for winter! Make a donation if you are able, and share with family and friends! www.youcaring.com/olliefeedsthehomeless