It’s not something a teenager or a 20-year-old typically thinks about. That their life will be cut shorter than the average person and so it was something I had to think about. And then, be there for my friends as they experienced all their ailments that eventually took their lives and wonder at the same time when that would happen to me.
Click play to hear a full interview with Novelette below:
You’ve got to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else. I didn’t take that and use it very well. I wasn’t good at taking care of myself. I didn’t care for myself. It was more about him. You have to take care of yourself before you take care of someone else, you have to nourish yourself. You know you just have to be there for them. They go through all those stages and I think you do a little bit too. The anger and then the hurt, and you know this is going to happen, and then you don’t realize until they are gone. I think you get prepared for it too, so when he passed, I was very prepared so I didn’t even cry at the time when he was cremated. But it creeps up on you as time goes by. The loneliness and then somehow you just get through it.
Click play to hear a full interview with Coral below:
We were sitting in the lecture hall at the end of class and he said, “Nobody listens anymore.” And I am like, “What do you mean?” Then he said, “Nobody really listens to anybody. They just kind of listen to respond. They don’t listen to understand.” It hit me like a ton of bricks and I think that’s the one thing I can point out that’s kind of instill in myself that I have to actually listen to people.
Click play to hear a full interview with Rashme below:
I was left with three kids, totally unexpected. I had to get back to work and my minister was on the board for Home for Pregnant Teens. I took this position as the volunteer coordinator and I had never felt so valued. All my other work experience seemed so… not worthless, but nothing was as important as these girls gravitating towards me because I understood. I had coped as a single parent and they just loved being around me and I loved helping them. At the end of my contract, they actually got a petition and got people to sign to keep my job, but there was no funding for it. That was where my love for non-profit started. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else after that but working for an organization that doesn’t care about the bottom line as much as how many people they can help.
Click play to hear a full interview with Debra below:
The husband at first was a little bit hesitant to share what he was feeling because he felt his grief wasn’t… He kept downplaying his grief, “My grief isn’t as important as my wife’s. She had to carry our son for 21 weeks and be induced and hold our dead son in her arms. I can’t even compare my grief to hers.” And it’s so important in this organization that we let men know that their grief is just as valuable and just as important and the journey of healing is important.
Click play to hear a full interview with Paula below:
I discovered that it’s not easy to visit the city in a wheelchair. So I started looking for ways. How can we make our visits different? And she explained to me one of her favourite things was going to the beach. And online I found the city has a place for wheelchairs on the beach. Donald D. Summerville Olympic Pools, that’s where we went. I was able to transfer her to another wheelchair and we went to the beach. It was an experience for her. She hadn’t been on the beach for years. She hadn’t felt the sand. The moment we drove the wheelchair onto the beach, I saw her face change and I was able to get out of the wheelchair and she was lying on the sand. And yes, just her closing her eyes and making an angel in the sand, it brought me joy that she was so happy.
Click play to hear a full interview with Jacqueline below:
Today was an interesting day because we had a lady and she was down in the dumps last week. So we bought her a flower, a little plant, and delivered it today. And she cried and cried and cried because nobody has given her plants for a long time. And she thanked us and she said, “You know, last week was my birthday so that’s why I was so upset and down because it was my birthday and I turned 100. I am so happy that you gave me this. Thank you. Thank you.” And at first, she didn’t want to take it because, you know, we all have this reciprocity that if he is giving me something, what do I have to give him back? You know, why is he doing it? We said, “No, we just want to make you happy.” So she embraced the flower, embraced us, and cried. That was today.
Click play to hear a full interview with Frank below:
Being a mother is the hardest job, I’d say, in the world. Because sometimes you are by yourself and you don’t have someone else to kind of bring your child up. Obviously, being a teenager, I was not easy to put up with. And when you are young, you want to experience different things. You think that you’ve grown. You think you know everything. Obviously, that’s not always the case. My mother and I, we have had our ups and downs, but some of the things I’ve done as a teenager because I thought I knew better, that kind of disappointed her. I haven’t been the best child, but I am glad that we mended our relationship and that we can move forward. And I am seeing her attitude towards her job regardless of how difficult it gets, it’s what has helped mold me and helped change my mindset when it comes to giving back to the community.
Click play to hear a full interview with Tehillah below:
We weren’t the smartest of men. We were kids living in the world of delusion, hoping to be something famous in all the wrong ways. It was a dark place in my life. People started dying. A friend in high school committed suicide. And yes, it was difficult. I didn’t even go to the funeral. To be honest I didn’t believe it. I didn’t really pay attention to what was happening to others. Yeah, I only cared about my friends who didn’t care about me and in turn made me care about nobody.
Click play to hear a full interview with Randall below:
I used to play the victim role a lot. And I swore the world owed me because I lost my loved one to homicide. So the world owes me and I was going around like that and I didn’t even realize I was comfortable being the victim. And then they showed me my truth. It’s just something I won’t accept because I am not a victim. It is just something that has happened to me. And so here I am, I do a lot of work on gun violence as well within the community. And I can now because I am at a place where I can do that, but I had to help myself first.
Click play to hear a full interview with Michelle below: