Our mission: Bringing warmth to the lives of our nation's homeless, starting in Washington, DC. Help us seize the day and make the lives of others extraordinary.
In 2003, my father passed away from battling cancer, and there was a sense of emptiness at home. As the oldest of four, I had big shoes to fill and I wasn’t sure if I was ready. Christmas that year was very difficult. My brothers, my sister, and I would always run into his closet when we missed him because all of his coats smelled like him. He was our rock and one of the most charismatic people I have come to know. He was a family man who loved us more than anything in this world. He was a man who loved his friends, and a man who lived out his Catholic faith each and every day. He had an energy that people loved…and he never ceased to make someone smile.
That year, we had an idea to make Christmas not about what we were doing at home but rather about those less fortunate than ourselves and who also might be feeling a certain emptiness. We thought how we could make the lives of others extraordinary during the Christmas season. We took what we valued most in that first year after my dad’s passing…his big winter coats…and gave them to homeless men and women in the parks and secluded areas of Washington, DC. There were others out there who really needed this warmth and it was in those moments that I felt like I was sharing a part of my dad with each one of those men and women. It was my Dad who would be helping keep them warm in the cold December winter. It made me smile and tear because it was so appropriate…no matter what season it was, my Dad was always the guy who would make people feel warm inside. He loved people…and they loved him.
Since those moments in time, my life motto has always been to “seize the day and make life extraordinary.” The initiative of Sweaters and Sustenancebecame more structured the following year in 2004 out of wanting to engage my community through relentless service to those individuals struggling most in Washington, DC's toughest areas. Many homeless men and women don’t have families. So many of them feel disconnected from productivity and feel too connected to the feelings of loss, the very feeling my family was experiencing after my father’s passing. Over the past 11 years, we have been continuing our tradition of trying to make a difference in people’s lives. We gather gently worn winter clothes from family, neighbors, friends, friends of friends, along with monetary donations which help directly fund the meals that we prepare for the homeless. It is an incredible day of service with people who share similarly in the passion of wanting to make a difference in the lives of others.
An addition to this year's day of service will consist of making Christmas and Holiday gift baskets for my students who I teach at the KIPP Learning Center public charter school in Anacostia, DC. These are students who would definitely benefit from some holiday cheer, kindness, but most of all knowing that someone out there cares about them enough to put together a gift basket for them and their family.
The more people we involve in making all of this happen, the more lives we will touch.
I hope you will consider giving by donating gently worn winter clothes as well as monetarily to help this initiative continue this Christmas and Holiday season.
$5.00 (A pair of winter gloves)
$10.00 (A healthy dinner for a homeless man or woman)
$30.00 (A warm winter hat and scarf)
$30.00 (A set of warm winter clothes for an inner-city student)
$50.00 (A gift basket for an inner city student in Anacostia, DC)