Six years ago I was fired from my job. I was 49, single, broke and had a pretty bad attitude. I was so burnt out from the career path I had chosen that I couldn't bear the thought of finding another job in that field, so I opted for unemployment to give me time to re-think my life and path.
Around the same time, two Muslim families in the city I live in were going through an ordeal that made my situation seem like a vacation. Both fathers had been targeted in an FBI sting operation and ultimately arrested for money laundering (a charge I & many others adamantly believe to be wrong). While the men were awaiting trial in the county prison, their wives and children (ten in total) were suffering terribly, and very frightened.
An Iraqi Muslim friend of mine called one day to ask if I could help raise some money for the children's school supplies. This was the first time the families came within my personal radar, although I had heard about the men and the FBI sting on the news. I agreed to help out of concern for the children, and together we raised about $200.00 from friends and acquaintances.
My friend asked me to come to one of the homes to deliver the gifts (we purchased all of the supplies ourselves). This was the beginning of a very profound shift in my life, as I got to know the families and ultimately an entire community that I would never have reason to participate in otherwise.
I am trying to write a memoir about my experiences during that year, and the amazing gifts that came out of it for me: I was able to bolster enough support to buy a small cafe which quickly became a popular haven for artists, musicians and lots of creative people; fell in love with and married a wonderful man; saw my daughter fall in love and marry another wonderful man; bought a house; adopted two rescue dogs.., and helped to start the Muslim Solidarity Committee and the Jihidi Peace Sisters, both of which groups are still active today.
I hope to find my voice and inspiration to write this story through the 29 day giving challenge. But, because I've already seen the results of giving from my joyful heart, I also know that this may not be the universe's plan for me. So, I am willing to see what happens.
Thank you, Cami, for writing that book, and for inspiring so many people with your own story and your gift of determination.
This will be my first gift to the 29Day community, because I have not really told this story publicly before.