There is a beautiful relationship between giving and receiving. Holding true to the polarity of life on Earth, we cannot fully experience one without the other. Our healing and wholeness comes in honoring, accepting, and lovingly practicing in both. This is so important to us here at Kala. As much as we are grateful for all of our receiving, our support from our Kula members and clientele, we are even more so grateful for our opportunity to assist and give back to others. We do this not just financially, but also physically through volunteering. It allows us to truly understand and participate in the differences being made.
Our first official exchange serving this purpose was with the Children’s Home Society.
Experienced and written by our Creative Director: Leah J Fortner
At first I was overwhelmed with the available options of who and what we could direct our time and energy into. So, I took a step back and asked myself, “What is near and dear to my heart?” “What do I relate to personally that could offer a guiding light for where to begin our journey of giving back?”
I have been a single mom since my children were basically born (a long story for another time ha) and it is such a challenging experience. I even say that with the support of a strong family surrounding me. I literally could not even imagine surviving this journey of single motherhood without that support system. This realization is what directed me to CHS.
At CHS not only do they house children without homes, but also young teens who are coming into motherhood alone. After contacting this non-profit and breezing through some preliminary screening, I was welcomed as a volunteer.
The first night I volunteered I didn’t know what to expect. As I entered the property, driving down the long winding road toward the actual housing snuggly located in the rear behind the offices, I noticed several yellow signs that read “Safe Place”. I later found out it meant that this location was a designated destination for any child in need of immediate help. Whether a child ran away from home, was being abused, was lost, hurt, afraid, or in need of a bed, this place was open and “safe” for them.
It didn’t take me long at all to feel this exact truth, that CHS was a safe place for lost children of all kinds.
My journey began in the wing where the expecting and new moms had a dorm type environment. There was a kitchen, a Dining room, a TV room, a babysitting nursery area, which was provided for the moms when they needed to work, and separated rooms for each mom and their child.
Even in the initial tour with the director, my heart felt full. It was such an amazing feeling to see a company and selfless humans building and supporting such a special place. It was a gifted miracle of hope for these teens who had lost hope and had it harder than most of us could imagine.
As I sat down for their family meal, which took place once a week to go over any living area needs and regulations, as well as communicate personal feelings and needs, I was a honestly a little nervous. As much as I wanted to help and give to them, I knew in this moment we seemed worlds apart. I knew that children and teens who have been hurt and neglected and cornered into this place had built walls around their hearts. And here I sat, a different age, a different ethnicity than most, a different material wardrobe, and a different evolution of energy. Even though I too had walked the path of a struggling single mom, in this moment a full collection of differences sat before them.
However, it didn’t stop me. I was quick to dive in, letting my truth and personality flow, rolling up my sleeves and offering to help where I could. I picked up a young Haitian boy who was about 9 months old, entertaining him so his mother could eat uninterrupted. As I bounced him on my knees playfully igniting his smile and laughter, our eyes eventually locked. Immediately I felt our souls connect. I felt a connection so deep that every single perceivable difference of myself and anyone in that room diminished. We were all one in the same, beautiful souls journeying through the lives we were given. All of us doing our best. Through his eyes, in that moment, I felt home too.
Of course these women needing healing, support, direction, and most importantly love. But, what surprised me the most was the kindness and courage that was present, the energy of family they created together when the world left them without one. They truly were giving the hand they were dealt their all. I was inspired. I knew I wanted to come back. I knew I wanted to help as much and as often as I could. It sparked the light of giving in me even more.
One evening I had all of the moms choose a Kala stack bracelet stone and charm that resonated with their journey and their energetic needs, measured and to be made to fit them perfectly. As I returned another night to gift them their bracelets, they opened them with such joy. The excitement and gratitude and hugs I received was touching to me on so many levels. Many of us live in a reality of excessive abundance, huge wardrobes, filled jewelry boxes, and hanging shoe racks overloaded with options. Sometimes it honestly desensitizes us from honoring limited possessions and their sacred value. But, in this moment and in this exchange, I felt what true gratitude for even the smallest of gestures truly felt like, and it was a raging river of love.
I am so happy to provide these gifts through Kala, to touch lives, and to make these simple luxuries available to struggling single moms who would otherwise not have them. I continue to volunteer for CHS. I am truly grateful for the exchange we share together. We are, after all, one in the same. Aho.