St Paul's Center- DTNGT

"Hello there! Taking a few minutes to tell you that it truly does take one person to change the lives of others, just one small gesture or step at a time. I avidly follow Do the Next Good Thing and am brought to tears often by your posts. I am hopeful that the next time you consider a large donation, you would check out St Paul's Center in Troy.

Why? For me, it is purely selfish reasons, it would make me feel good- how bad is that?

I grew up literally in a horror house. My stepfather beat me. He would hold guns to my head to hear me beg for my life, and the lives of my mom and siblings. I have pretty much witnessed (things) that no kid ever should have to see or deal with- ever.

The single worst thing (for me) that will always be part of my life (no amount of counseling will make it better) is that I will truly never feel safe. Safety for me was defined as "running away" and finding a safe haven, a place to escape, a place to never return to that home, safety was always temporary.

However, every time I ran away, I eventually returned either because the family hiding me became scared or I returned fearing what would happen to my mom and my siblings. On multiple occasions my mom packed us up, we fled with clothes and blankets stuffed in trash bags, I remember hiding in the back of a gas station as he drove around looking for us.

We had nothing. No money. My mom had no family, no friends, no credit, no license. Each time we fled we were placed into "safe houses." They were temporary, nothing was "yours", they were not a home, and never could be.

Which leads me to St Paul's Center.

I am not emotionally equipped to volunteer for them; I will see my siblings reflection in every child's face, and my mom everywhere. I don't currently possess the bandwidth to handle that. My mom and siblings are all alive, happy, healthy, brave courageous loving human beings.

I know St. Paul’s is a safe haven. I know because of them women and children are safe, they have a "home" feeling, they have things of their "own." Currently, they are raising funds for permanent housing for these families in need. Just think about it- and thanks for letting me share my story."

It takes me a few minutes to respond. I’ve known Sabrina for more than a decade, but what feels like 6 lives ago. Her words hit me pretty hard. How often in life we assume we know someone, and yet, how can we ever truly know a person? If our paths crossed today and all you knew of me was this page and these stories, you’d know so very little. We assume. Both good and bad.

 That cuts both ways on this story, including St. Paul’s Center. I’m from Troy. It’s where I grew up. It’s my home. It’s my heart. And though I spend very little time there now, it is never far from my thoughts.

 My hometown, particularly those that have spent many decades there and have not once benefited by an incredible Downtown comeback, often bemoan the above average number of non-profits that call the city home. Often discussed and criticized is how much of the property in Troy is tax exempt, the transience of the people that use the services, and the long term burden that is carried by those whose families made Troy home. It’s a story that’s been playing out for years and has relevance in our national discussions.

 And while much of the above side effects are a reality they ignore people like Sabrina. People who need help. People that have no other options. I mention this now because I was once a person who criticized what I did not know or understand for reasons that were limited to me assuming I was smarter than other people. It won’t surprise you to learn that this was also when I was my most unhappy.
 Thank you for sharing it Sabrina, do you mind if I use it anonymously? She steps up the bravery even more.

"I am not ashamed, utilize it any way you would like.

 Most folks are actually a little shocked, they think they "know me", but they just have a sense of who I am, and equate my compassion and commitment to my community with "must have had a great upbringing."

 My Mom is the bravest, most courageous woman I know...5 kids, and she finally was able to get us away and take care of us all. She is my superhero. All kids and parents in bad situations should just be given a chance...”

“Should just be given a chance…”

Today we donate $1,000 to St. Paul’s Center at Sabrina’s request, so that someone else may be given a chance. The St. Paul's Center exists to provide emergency and transitional housing for homeless mothers and their children. They provide support and services to help families move on to independent living.

There’s one more reason this is the most perfect story for us to write about. Sabrina is giver. She cares about the community. And listen to this…

 She’s currently actively involved in the LLS Woman of the Year effort. If you aren’t familiar with this its an incredibly consuming and amazing journey in which you basically put your life on hold to raise a ton of money to try and find a cure for blood cancers. It’s intense. The people that do it have their lives changed.

And in the midst of that, the kickoff was last week, she took the time to tell the story of her incredible journey in an effort to raise money for a group that is simply trying to help others.

That is doing the next good thing.

I’m proud to call Sabrina a friend, and I do hope you’ll consider donating to this month’s cause.

(As a reminder, any donation of $25 or more will be entered into a drawing this September for a free trip to Hawaii on us.)


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Jeff Buell 
Troy, NY
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