December 22, 2015 Mitchell Derrey

Season of Giving: Part 4

We started off this blog series by asking ourselves a couple of questions:

  1. Is there ever an off-season for giving?
  2. What can we do to support charitable organizations when they need it most?

The answer to the first question was a simple, “yes”. The answer to the second was that we were asking the wrong question. This revelation came during our visit with Rex Hohlbein. He operates his Facing Homelessness program through a small window in the basement of the University Temple United Methodist Church. There is plenty about Rex on the internet, so I’ll get right to the point.

Rex is not one to toot his own horn. In fact, I don’t believe he even has a horn, so I’ll use mine and toot it for him. Rex has a graceful kindness about him and a genuine capacity for empathy that is immediately apparent to all who meet him. His message is simple…love. Allow yourself to feel it deeply. Open yourself to feel it for everybody, free from judgement and agenda. Practice living in a way that invites loving moments to happen and look through a different lens… a lens of kindness.

Now, I am sure that Rex experiences doubt, disappointment, fear, and sadness. But one gets the sense that he turns these emotions into hope, renewed vigor, courage, and bliss. When we stated our hypothesis to him, we expressed how helpless we felt in making any sort of meaningful impact towards homelessness. His words of wisdom brought a lightning bolt of clarity.

Finding direction

Focusing on the entire issue can only lead to feeling helpless. It’s just too big. One must look at it on an individual level. First, each individual has their own unique story as to why they are on the street and blanket solutions cannot address what an individual truly needs. Second, as individuals, we all have unique passions and talents that we can apply – to play a part in the solution.

Rex likened it to two locations, far apart, with an infinite amount of “docks” in between where we can park our “boats”. The first location is the current reality of homelessness and the second location is a reality without homelessness. Our “boats” are our individual contributions that we can make and the trick is finding our “dock”. If everyone docks their boats, we can all get to the second reality together, by applying the talents and passions that are natural to us.

The lightning bolt of clarity: harnessing our talents

We were originally thinking about how we could donate, volunteer, or support organizations in the typical ways that are readily available, but realized through talking with Rex that that doesn’t necessarily put our passions to use. We’ve now begun to think about who we are, what we do, and what we are great at. We are storytellers. We have a platform and a voice. We have a team of people who want to make a difference. Why not aim that talent
and passion at the issue? Imagine if every business did this, and what a difference it would make.

Our time with Rex was quite fortuitous as he has been searching for the ways to “challenge the assumptions” of homelessness, and get the message out. Other cities are contacting Rex to learn about and duplicate his Facing Homelessness program. It is even going
international. Perhaps this is the dock for our boat? Please be sure to read Part 5 of our blog series as we set off into the New Year.