Carrie’s Giving Story
My story of giving began in the 1990s, when I was a high school senior. I was a candy striper at a local hospital and a basketball and softball coach at the local boys and girls club. When I was in my early 20s I decided to be a big sister. As I watched my “little sister” grow to become an amazing young woman, I realized that life is more than just personal growth and success. For me, life is about making my time mean something to someone other than myself.
When I was 34 years old, I signed up to be a co-mentor in a program that matches former foster youth with professionals. The time I spent with those young men and women changed my life forever because 2 years later I adopted my son. We were both co-mentors in the program, him being the former foster youth and me the professional. I joined the program to learn how to be a great single mother to those who are “stuck” in the system. As for him, he was just learning how to be a responsible adult. Little did we know, 2 years later we would be a family. He is now a full-time college student and has plans to be a music therapist for children in the foster system.
In 2014 I started a nonprofit, Carry Me Productions (CMP). Most people think the name is a play off my own, but it’s not. Carry is defined as “support and move (someone or something) from one place to another” or to “support the weight of”; therefore, I define “Carry Me Productions” as “to produce results that carry people forward in life.” CMP started as a film production nonprofit. I knew so many nonprofits that didn’t have the money to cover video promotional costs. I wanted to provide this service to nonprofits who had a strong mission yet didn’t have the funding in their overhead costs to help with video productions. I wanted to help nonprofits be carried to bigger audiences so their messages could be seen and heard. As I went out to do videos for other nonprofits, the majority of the nonprofits targeted “helping” the homeless, but in reality people were enabled to stay still or were being threatened if they did not follow orders. This is not what CMP stands for, so I stopped. I also noticed some nonprofits would preach compassion but didn’t practice “to be compassionate”. They only understood the word by its definition: “To have compassion is to have concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” To be compassionate is to act on the concern one feels for the suffering of another living thing.
Once I stopped doing the video production, I began doing my own outreach. I would talk to people and try to understand their struggles. I would ask them “where are you in your search for housing or work”. Surprisingly, a lot of people already had jobs and a few had housing vouchers yet no housing was available. So, I sat down one day, put my notes together and started doing some research on housing and why it was so hard for people to find affordable housing. I started putting together the correlation of homeless to empty “zombie” homes. After a couple weeks reading my notes, something just clicked and I came up with a way to house people that was cost efficient. Come to find out, there are other for-profits and nonprofits running similar models, but our model differs because it does not feed off those who are having financial hardships. Instead, we work with them in their hardship. Our version of this model is called “Pay What You Can” housing.
See our models:
- Co-housing (Shared Housing)
- Housing Youth
- Housing for Veterans
- Carry Forward — A Collaborative Effort
CMP launched a program specifically for veterans in 2016 entitled Operation Homes for Heroes, where veterans who are living in poverty can rent a room in one of the homes owned by CMP. All of the properties CMP manages are previously bank owned, aka real estate owned (REO).
As you read stories from other people and wonder “how can I do something to make the world a better place?” remember this acronym LOVE (let our voices empower).
Don’t think of changing the world, but changing the minds and hearts of those who live on it. Nothing is wrong with this world, it is the humans that inhabit this world that makes it hard to live happily.
You don’t need a reason to be kind.
You don’t need a reason to care.
I didn’t have the greatest childhood and I grew up around people who were bigots and racists, but I did not let it poison my caring nature.
Don’t make excuses, just get out there and do something for your community.
Oh and make sure you’re engaging in something you like. Painting, writing, music, cook meals, educate, coach sports, etc. there’s something for everyone. So no excuses!
Here are a few more examples of what I have done in my community:
NOTE: I get to know everyone I help before I help them. Don’t do anything without first knowing who you’re giving to or helping. Some people who are homeless have mental health concerns and should not be approached unless accompanied by a mental health specialist.
- Help others in their job search.
- Help veterans update their resumes.
- Help women veterans staying at the VA domiciliary.
- Tutor low-income youth who want to go to college.
- Clothing drive for impoverished veterans.
- Clothing drive for youth with children.
- Buy homeless neighbor a meal.
- Help a homeless neighbor go to the DMV to get their identification. (I provide bus fair or call an organization who has permits to do this.)
- Help a homeless neighbor make a phone call to a relative.