Today I wanted simply to brighten days as mine have been brightened. I want to highlight three initiatives that widened my smile, put pep in my step and brightened my mind around this world we live in today. The concepts are very simple however the impacts are limitless. Let’s get inspired!
Bringing Light to COVID-19
I had heard the term “code sunshine” on social media and loved the aura of happiness it had and I needed to know more. During this time, amid COVID-19 things can be more challenging. There is a heaviness upon us that we cannot quite get ahold of, we can’t shake it, we can’t rid ourselves of it, and that’s okay. The news is dark, the road has been long. However, as I’ve mentioned here on this page there is always something light among the dark if only we can find it. Here in Massachusetts, we have been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak and there was such a darkness around this mysterious virus and its evolution. Hospitals have always been a sanctuary space where we can feel protected and supported, however during this time for so many, this shifted. Hospitals around the country wanted to change this, the staff that inspire us daily with their tireless efforts continue to shed light that hope is powerful. Around the nation now there has been a “Code Sunshine” or “Code Happy” popping up in hospitals that centers strictly around COVID-19. As we know, “codes” are emergency security codes, identifying a need. In this case, Code Sunshine is called for a COVID-19 patient discharge. Ascension Providence Hospital in Texas calls a Code Sunshine playing “Walking on Sunshine” for a COVID-19 patient discharge. Staff enter the halls, cheering and clapping for each individual who fought a battle we as humans don’t even know how to fight just yet, and yet they won. Other medical centers and hospitals play songs including “Don’t Stop Believing”, “”Here Comes the Sun” and more. Here in Boston many hospitals and medical centers are participating playing the theme song of Rocky and “Happy” by Pharrell. This gesture is a morale booster and a vote of confidence for patients, but also for staff. A small reminder that this fight is worthwhile, the work is worthwhile. This allows patients and staff a moment to feel celebrated around this recovery. If you want a bit of joy today, and many happy tears take a few moments to see Code Sunshine is action, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
“A flower cannot bloom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love”
– Max Muller
The following two center on the same issue of homelessness, this was accidental however only to a degree. This is a topic I feel very strongly about so I do tend to gravitate in this direction, alas that is a different topic for a different day. The concepts behind these two initiatives captivated me in the best way possible, the nature of the individuals who drove these concepts to fruition have something special in them that I aspire for. These individuals are bringing light to an issue that is underrepresented, misunderstood and deserving of conversation. Before diving into these two initiatives I think it’s important to acknowledge that small acts make big impacts in our world. There is a value in being seen and acknowledged as an individual that we forget, when we feel invisible we lose our sense of humanity. It is essential to acknowledge that individuals experiencing homelessness are one of our most marginalized populations, experiencing disproportionate rates of senseless cruelty, and violence everyday. Read through to the end and finish this post with a quote about compassion, let that resonate with you as you find a takeaway today.
Beauty 2 The Streetz
“Not all queens live in castles, some live on the streets” – Shirley Raines
Beauty2TheStreetz is likely one of the greatest movements I have discovered, a recognition that a lack of a home does not equate to a lack of humanity. My personal belief is that housing is a basic human right (if you know me you know this can be multiple posts of its own so I won’t go there now). Beauty2thestreetz is based on human dignity through providing essential services that help us feel inherently human (a hot shower, a hearty meal, and the feeling of hope when we look in the mirror and like what we see looking back at us). We all understand that feeling and what an impact this makes on how we function. Most important is the sense of value, to feel cared for, to feel seen and to have equality in our interactions. A sole woman, Shirley Raines, fully funds this program in California. A statement that resonates with me from her page is “We are building friendships based on equality and compassion and it is this, more than simply the hair and makeup, that brings beauty to the streets”. While she may not have tremendous financial wealth to share it is clear she has a tremendous wealth of love and respect to radiate to her community. Shirley is able to feed over 400 individuals experiencing homelessness and offer showers, hair washing, hair coloring services, make-up and wigs. I cannot emphasize enough that the basis of this program is truly just sharing love and valuing one another, providing the most basic humanistic services to individuals who need it most. Imagine the feeling of being lost and one of our society’s invisible and suddenly being seen? Being valued? Being treated with respect? The most important thing that Shirley offers every individual is human connection and general respect. There is a quote from my favorite book that stands out “they are often faceless and nameless, lost in plain sight and forced to live on the fringes of society” – Shirley takes this and shines light into these shadows. These individuals are seen, heard and valued as a human by Shirley and her team and that is worth more than any number could identify. As I dove into this mission it became clear that there were no barriers to this care. These were true relationships built, Shirley forms individualized bonds and knows each individual for who they are as a person. She cares about their health and wellbeing, she cares for their likes and dislikes. Shirley’s movement has brought awareness to the homeless community. Every action brings a reaction both positive and negative and while there are some quick to judge Shirley for her actions there are far more who see this as a movement of human connection, love and respect. Shirley is able to value each individual on California’s well-known “skid row” as people just as you and I are reading this now, however these individuals fell on hard times and didn’t have a lifeline to pull them out. Shirley is a beacon of hope for individuals who may not have one otherwise. For me, I work among our society’s most vulnerable everyday and reading Shirley’s story, seeing her interactions moved me in an indescribable way. Shirley sees people, not labels, not identifying marks, she acknowledges a future, not a past. I work with individuals everyday that allow me to be myself, I see them and they see me. Together we belly laugh, we grieve, we grow alongside one another, we find the joy and boy there is so much joy. I know each individual for what makes them individual, I know their likes and dislikes and I know what makes them unique, we build relationships with trust and love. This much I know, we are human beings who thrive on connection, affection and interactions with others. We are vulnerable and trust is earned. We are here to give ourselves to others and while there are things that can make us different, there is so much more that can bring us together. Check out Shirley and her mission here http://beauty2thestreetz.org I would also highly recommend her Instagram (@beauty2thestreetz) to see the love in action!
Shirley continues in the work amid COVID-19 and could use support. During these times more than ever our society’s vulnerable is in need. Check out her site for ways to donate to support this movement through the Amazon Wish List or financial donations!
The Right To Shower
Bringing Showers and Dignity to the Streets
I found ‘The Right to Shower’ through Better X Brands and absolutely fell in love with this mission. The core concept relates to that of Shirley’s, a very pure concept rooted in basic human dignity and respect. This program was started because “we believe access to cleanliness is a fundamental human right”. WOW. Did you know that individuals experiencing homelessness lack access to everyday essentials and services, including showers! There are SO many individuals in our society who maintain ignorance that individuals experiencing homelessness are “dirty” when in reality access is a large barrier for this population that is not given enough light. This prompts the population to be rejected and continually unseen by our society, compromising each individuals sense of dignity and opportunity to feel included. Individuals experiencing homelessness are more exposed, have often been traumatized, and may experiencing ongoing physical and mental health concerns. These individuals may have little to no connection to people, places or organizations that can provide appropriate protections and resources likely due to lack of awareness and fear. The Right to Shower team believes free showers should be made accessible to those living on the streets, one shower can contribute to improving our health and well-being and restoring dignity in ourselves. I also believe we must consider trauma during this (sorry clinical cap went on!) and the trauma that is experiencing homelessness. Now lets bring it back, when you have a bad day, something occurs you just want to rid yourself of, what do we do? We shower, we wash ourselves of that day and start fresh, call it a clean slate. We take a shower for an escape, have our funny shower thoughts, review our day, take a few minutes for peaceful “me time”. When we’re sick there is nothing better than a hot shower. Now, do we ever think about the trauma that is being homeless and not having access to even these acts we take for granted so frequently? Individuals experiencing homelessness are at a significantly higher risk of being victimized in the community, and the number of fatalities due to violence is alarming (A study by the National Coalition for the Homeless revealed 1 in 6 acts of violence against the homeless ends in fatality, a separate study revealed that only 1 in 5 individuals will report being victimized and only 3 in 10 women will report being assaulted). We call it simple, a simple shower, yet to some it is far from simple. Along with our mental health, showers are also essential for our physical health allowing us to care for our bodies and skin we live in.
This brand has developed a shower product line for purchase on Amazon and at Whole Foods and 100% of the profits is donated to mobile shower organizations! This organization was built as a social enterprise with the goal to develop sustainability to continue to provide to this need. The largest partner of this brand is Lava Mae which roots itself in Radical Hospitality (the concept of meeting people where they are with extraordinary care – I’M HOOKED). Lava Mae began with transitioning public transportation busses into showers and toilets to fill the gap in sanitation access for our unhoused population. They have developed into a movement emphasizing it is not only what you provide, but HOW you provide it. The organization believes that we must treat those who feel invisible and dehumanized with extraordinary respsect and care in order to restore dignity and unlock the opportunities that come with being and feeling clean. So by purchasing products you are funding Lava Mae’s community work.
By purchasing products you’re not only cleaning yourself, you’re providing hope, dignity, strength and power to another. You’re providing the joy of a shower to another. The shower products are named around dignity, hope, joy and strength. Do good while feeling good.
Check out both teams here http://therighttoshower.com
and here http://lavamaex.org
“I will never tire of repeating this; what the poor need the most is not pity, but love. They need to feel respect for their human dignity, which is neither less nor different from the dignity of any other human being”
– Mother Theresa
While there is so much happening around us there is even more within us. Hold onto your purity and take a stand for what you believe in. As we channel our inherent kindness and purity we are limitless. Even in these days when the road feels long we have so much to be grateful for there is beauty in every moment. I hope you find something beautiful to takeaway today.
All my love, S
“Compassion….asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion and anguish….Compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is more acute and building a home there….Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human…(there is)….deep conviction that through compassion, our humanity grows into its fullness”
– Father Henri Nouwen