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Connect Iredell

From Our Editor - Find Your Smile This Holiday Season

Nov 05, 2020 11:11PM ● By Catherine Diehl
From the time I was born, I was taught that my blood runs green and that all football teams other than the Philadelphia Eagles are rubbish, and if you’re an Eagles fan, you know what I’m talking about. I was 13 when one of the biggest games of the season was about to happen. Terrell Owens, an ex Eagles wide receiver, was traded from the Eagles to the Cowboys and my family, aka my two older brothers and my dad, insisted on going to the game. The weather was cold and in big cities, the chilly air turns into piercing wind that finds any crevasse it can and warms itself up by freezing your bones, but as we walked around Downtown Philadelphia, football was the last thing on my mind. The streets were covered with homeless people, and all I could think about was how I could help them. I knew I couldn’t help all of them, so I tried to let my heart tell me who to help.

Finding the one

We were sitting at The Hard Rock Café and I was just staring at all of the food that was on our table and my heart was filled with guilt. We had so much food while so many others had nothing. I remembered seeing some homeless people outside so I asked my parents if I could give a meal to someone. I knew my parents would say yes, but by the time we finished dinner, they were gone, so I asked my parents if we could walk back to the hotel so I could find someone else. As we walked back, I asked my spirit to let me know who I was supposed to help. I didn’t find anyone- the streets were surprisingly bare, but I was thankful because the air was even more surprisingly piercing. I refused to go inside until I found someone, so my brother, Matt, sat on the wall outside of our hotel with me. We waited probably thirty minutes, and as my family grew impatient, my eyes glanced at a man who was walking towards us and he sat down on the wall a little ways away from us. My heart was ready to run to him, but I didn’t want to offend him or make him feel ashamed, so instead of approaching him, I decided to leave the food on the wall and walk away.

I didn’t want to go inside until I knew he took the food because I didn’t want anyone else to have it- it was made for him. My brother, Matt, and my dad stayed with me and waited. We stood outside and I watched on with a hopeful heart just needing him to take the food. He looked around and kept looking over at the bag and he slowly inched himself closer and closer to it. And then he took it. I grabbed my dad’s hand with pure excitement and the smile that took over my face was a feeling I never wanted to lose, and I never have. I left Philadelphia with a heart filled with a need for helping others, a need for loving everyone, and a desire to open my own nonprofit that helps the homeless population, especially women.

My blood runs red 

As the years have gone by and my innocent 13 years of age has turned into 27 years of living, my love for people and passion for helping others has only grown, and with a universal blood type, I guess you could say this is who I was made to be. I have traveled to Alaska and South Africa to help those in need. We helped provide water, shelter, food, a lot of laughter, and even more love, and to this day I still stay in-contact with the people I met, but what I’ve learned is that your greatest impact can happen right in your backyard. Local nonprofits are all around us in Iredell County, and this year has been a year of questions and drought for a lot of them. After working at a nonprofit for five years, I know the ins and outs of what makes up a nonprofit, and it’s 100% their volunteers and those who spend every second with the people who are in need. Since Covid-19 has hit, nonprofit organizations have suffered from a loss of donations, volunteers, and annual events that bring in their biggest profit have had to be rescheduled, and even canceled.

Find your smile

This month we will be meeting with a few local nonprofits in order to help share their stories and provide you with ways on how to get involved this holiday season. Nonprofits have many different needs and whatever your gift is, they would love for you to share it with them. I’ve already signed up to volunteer for The Salvation Army of Statesville, and I encourage you to find a nonprofit that fits the mold of who you want to help and help you find the smile I had as a 13 year old who just wanted to help someone. This year you're needed more than ever, and if you’re ready to make an impact, head over to our directory to find a local nonprofit that you want to get involved with. Be on the lookout for more stories to come on local nonprofits in Iredell County!