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Heart to Heart to Win

Posted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:09 pm
by Spiritwind
Heart to Heart to Win

I've decided to start this thread for stories that touch our hearts deeply. Since we've been discussing love on another thread it seems like a nice continuation of this theme. Sometimes it's easier to tell our stories about how that illusive something we call love has touched us than it is to narrow it down into some kind of dictionary type definition. Bottom line, apparently, is love "just is"...

Thanks to all you crazy diamonds who just continue to shine in the ever growing darkness of this world. Diamonds form under intense heat and pressure, and are incredibly durable and hard. Beautiful too. Something to think about.


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Freedom and Jeff...

“Freedom and I have been together 11 years this summer. She came in as a baby in 1998 with two broken wings. Her left wing doesn't open all the way even after surgery, it was broken in 4 places. She's my baby. When Freedom came in she could not stand and both wings were broken. She was emaciated and covered in lice. We made the decision to give her a chance at life, so I took her to the vet's office. From then on, I was always around her. We had her in a huge dog carrier with the top off, and it was loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to lay in. I used to sit and talk to her, urging her to live, to fight; and she would lay there looking at me with those big brown eyes. We also had to tube feed her for weeks. This went on for 4-6 weeks, and by then she still couldn't stand. It got to the point where the decision was made to euthanize her if she couldn't stand in a week. You know you don't want to cross that line between torture and rehab, and it looked like death was winning. She was going to be put down that Friday, and I was supposed to come in on that Thursday afternoon. I didn't want to go to the center that Thursday, because I couldn't bear the thought of her being euthanized; but I went anyway, and when I walked in everyone was grinning from ear to ear. I went immediately back to her cage; and there she was, standing on her own, a big beautiful eagle. She was ready to live. I was just about in tears by then. That was a very good day. We knew she could never fly, so the director asked me to glove train her. I got her used to the glove, and then to jesses, and we started doing education programs for schools in western Washington . We wound up in the newspapers, radio (believe it or not) and some TV. Miracle Pets even did a show about us.

In the spring of 2000, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. I had stage 3, which is not good (one major organ plus everywhere), so I wound up doing 8 months of chemo. Lost the hair – the whole bit. I missed a lot of work. When I felt good enough, I would go to Sarvey and take Freedom out for walks. Freedom would also come to me in my dreams and help me fight the cancer. This happened time and time again. Fast forward to November 2000 the day after Thanksgiving, I went in for my last checkup. I was told that if the cancer was not all gone after 8 rounds of chemo, then my last option was a stem cell transplant. Anyway, they did the tests; and I had to come back Monday for the results. I went in Monday, and I was told that all the cancer was gone. So the first thing I did was get up to Sarvey and take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold. I went to her flight and jessed her up, and we went out front to the top of the hill. I hadn't said a word to Freedom, but somehow she knew. She looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me to where I could feel them pressing in on my back (I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she touched my nose with her beak and stared into my eyes, and we just stood there like that for I don't know how long . That was a magic moment. We have been soul mates ever since she came in. This is a very special bird.

On a side note: I have had people who were sick come up to us when we are out, and Freedom has some kind of hold on them. I once had a guy who was terminal come up to us and I let him hold her. His knees just about buckled and he swore he could feel her power course through his body. I have so many stories like that. I never forget the honor I have of being so close to such a magnificent spirit as Freedom.”

Re: Heart to Heart to Win

Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2018 3:08 pm
by Spiritwind
Here's another outstanding story that should give anyone pause for thought. I've rescued many bees who had the misfortune to land in the goats water buckets but never even thought of doing this!

Woman’s Unlikely Friendship With Injured Bumblebee Has People Scratching Their Heads
By Evelyn H. Armstrong" onclick=";return false;
Bees play a crucial role in the life cycle of plants. Without bees transferring pollen from one flower to another, those plants wouldn’t be able to reproduce. That makes bees downright essential when it comes to the world around us.

Still, while most people can agree that bees are critical to the natural world, not everyone enjoys spending a lot of time around them. Preconceived notions about insects—not to mention, the very real fear of stings—keeps people away from bumblebees, who are totally harmless! But one woman just might change all that with her unusual story…

Fiona Presly had been gardening outside of her home in Scotland one afternoon when she noticed something a little bit unusual. At her feet sat a very large bumblebee. The poor creature seemed confused and disoriented. As an avid nature lover, Fiona wanted to keep her safe, so she scooped her up.


Fiona realized that this wasn’t just any bumblebee; she was the queen of her hive! Worried that someone might step on the queen, Fiona delicately placed her on a flower. Then she noticed something strange about the bee: “She had no wings,” noted Fiona.

Fiona hoped that the bee would find her way back to her hive, but when she checked on her a couple of hours later, the queen had not moved at all. Still wanting to help, Fiona brought the bee some sugar water and considered her options.

Others would have left the bee to die, but not Fiona. She knew there was a storm coming, and she couldn’t leave the flightless bee exposed to the elements. She made a bold move that many would never even think of: she invited the queen into her own house!

I took her inside that night, kept her warm and fed her more,” Fiona said. “I thought I would put her out the next day, but the weather was bad then too. So I kept her inside.” Clearly, Fiona was more worried about the queen’s well-being than about getting stung.

The next day, Fiona contacted the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. She wanted more information about this queen’s condition. They speculated that she’d caught a virus early on in her life, which inhibited the growth of her wings. The chances of the bee surviving this way in the wild were very slim.

After learning about the bee’s sorry state, Fiona decided to do something pretty amazing. “I made a garden for her,” she said. As this friendship began to grow, Fiona also gave her new pet a name—Bee! A name fit for a queen, of course.

In order to get the pollen she needed to survive, Fiona learned, Bee had to walk from flower to flower. Fiona created an enclosed garden with netting to keep other winged creatures from getting access to Bee’s private slice of heaven.

Every day, Fiona would check in on her new friend, Bee. On days when the little queen seemed a little sluggish or out of sorts, Fiona provided her with a small cup of sugar water to perk up. Then, something totally unexpected began to happen…

Over time, as Fiona began to approach the garden to check on her new wingless pet, Bee would emerge to visit her. Soon it was clear to Fiona that Bee was actually looking forward to their visits!

“She’d walk toward me and crawl on my hand,” said Fiona. “She seemed so happy to see me. It made me stop and think—there’s something going on here.” Was Bee really able to recognize her loving caretaker?

It was like her whole being came to life. I think she liked the fact that she wasn’t alone,” Fiona said of Bee’s behavior. “I think she thrived on company, even from another species. They are naturally sociable creatures. That would be in their instinct.


It wasn’t just Bee who loved Fiona; the feeling was mutual. “We were quite comfortable with each other,” Fiona said. “There were things going on with this bee that were quite something.” She loved observing her little friend at work in the garden each day.

In the wild, a queen bumblebee spends the spring and summer building a nest and doing what queen bees do—mating and starting a colony of her own before passing away in the early autumn months. Thanks to Fiona’s care, Bee lived for much longer…

Although Fiona was able to extend Bee’s life, she couldn’t make the creature immortal. After enjoying five months of each other’s company, Bee passed away in her sleep while resting on Fiona’s hand.

“I was sad when she died, but I knew it was going to happen. She was already older than she should have been,” said Fiona. “It had been very special to stay with a wee creature, like Bee. The fact that she lived more than just a few weeks amazed me. That was rewarding in itself.”

Fiona made sure to bury Bee in the place where they met—her garden. She also made sure that one of Bee’s favorite flowers was buried along with her. It was a touching testimony to their unique friendship.

Bee made a lasting impression on Fiona. “Now I view all insects in a different light. It’s changed my perception of what insects are like,” she said. “I think there’s an awful lot we don’t know.” How incredible that these two souls could form such an intense bond!

Behavioral ecologist Lars Chittka thought that Fiona might’ve been on to something when it came to bees’ potential for emotional attachment. “Sometimes it takes an outsider’s careful observations, such as Mrs. Presly’s, to generate fresh views and prompt important questions.”

While science still has a lot to learn about bees and how they relate to human beings, it’s clear that the bond between Fiona and Bee was absolutely real. They were both so lucky to find each other!

Isn’t it amazing how fate has a way of intervening in everyday situations? If Fiona wasn’t gardening that day, she and Bee might never have met. Thank goodness that they did—and this unique friendship got the time it needed to flourish!

Re: Heart to Heart to Win

Posted: Tue May 08, 2018 3:10 pm
by Spiritwind
I am posting this here because of an odd synchronicity. And I do believe we are, or at least can be, having a spiritual experience as we go through life that transcends the physical and is hard to put into words. It's an active and dynamic, ever flowing, experience that doesn't really have a destination. It's simply a way of living here in this reality, but my realization of this truth has made my experience here more enjoyable, regardless of whatever else is going on.

We are having a Spiritual Experience

Apr 26
by Jon Rappoport ... xperience/" onclick=";return false;
April 26, 2018

Recent events, about which I won’t go into detail, have caused me to say, we are having a spiritual experience.

And we are learning what that experience is.

Certain people, extraordinary people, show us qualities that transcend life.

These qualities, courage and love.

In the common arena where we all live, there are sufferings, but we can see that certain people transcend that. They come here, not only with a message, but with how they live. And how they live is greater than this life.

These people—there are many more of them than we ordinarily suppose.

This spiritual experience we are having—it is something we are learning about. I want to repeat that, because I’m not talking about something that appears and then is final. We are, if we are aware, learning.

Courage and love transcend this life we are living in the common arena.

The person who has shown me that is my wife, Laura Thompson. I have been learning about her for the 21 years we have been married. I have been learning about the scope and nature of her courage and love.

It is not easy for a person to live in this world on the side of love. To travel this life with love results in disappointments. But to continue, despite what happens, no matter what the world says or does, is majestic and beautiful. It is also transcendent.

And that is the living proof that there is a spiritual experience beyond this life as we are living it.

I believe, no matter who you are, that you have known a person who embodies this living proof.

Here and now.

As we learn, we come across “divisions” between the life we are living and the greater live we perceive. A major part of the learning is accepting that division.

There is a resolution. We come to it by degrees.

There are strengths in both the life we are living and the greater life we glimpse, perceive, and experience.

We come across great souls. They may be invisible to us for a time, even as we respond to them. But in time, we see more of them and who they are. And as we do, we see ourselves—what we can be. We see that what we can be is a natural extension of what we presently are doing.

As for myself, even as I feel my greatest love for Laura, I know it is only a part of what I will feel, as I learn more, in this spiritual experience I’m having.

As I learn more about her. As I live my life next to hers and as we have our endless life together.

Veils lifted from the heart and mind and eyes.

Jon Rappoport

Re: Heart to Heart to Win

Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:34 pm
by Spiritwind
This is a story that actually happened to me that I may have referred to before. I can’t remember anymore. When someone is moved to do something self-less for another I think they often don’t even know how powerful what they are doing is, or why they feel compelled to act. I will never know what was really going on in Joey’s mind when he did what he did, but the story is one that still warms my heart when I think about it.

Joey was a young man who was primarily a box boy at the local grocery store I worked at. He had recently graduated from high school, and it turns out he did so without having really learned how to read. We found this out when we would send him for a price check on various items. He was also quite flirtatious, but was one of those guys who was never taken seriously as his handicap kept people from seeing who he really was. So he was also lonely, and I found out later had grown up with a physically and emotionally abusive father.

On May 4, 1991 many of the employees I worked with, along with myself, attended a gathering at the local VFW to continue celebrating the bookkeeper’s wedding that day. I admit I had downed a couple of quite shots of tequila and had a beer to go with them, but remember jumping in my pickup from the passenger side, because the driver’s door didn’t open, faster than my good friend who came out to leave at the same time. I did not feel I was overly intoxicated and was not having any trouble driving home. As I started into a rather sharp corner another car came up fast behind me with their brights on and I was temporarily blinded, caught some of the gravel in the shoulder of the road and lost control of my vehicle. I did not have my seatbelt on and was literally thrown through the windshield as my pickup hit a road sign and continued to roll over. It really is a miracle I survived this accident at all, especially without one broken bone. The offending vehicle new it had contributed to an accident but continued to keep driving as if nothing had happened.

Fortunately my friend who had left the same time I did came up, saw what happened, and stopped to help. I had sustained a considerable amount of internal damage and minor cuts and bruises. I admit, sometimes I am dumber than a box of rocks (I have actually conversed with some pretty smart rocks, btw). At this time in my life I didn’t fully realize it, but was very reckless with my life because I didn’t want to be here. Which really was stupid as I had two young boys to care for who would have been thoroughly traumatized had they lost their mother then. I was a single parent, though, and seriously struggling to make ends meet on a minimum wage job and no outside support of any kind.

My vehicle was totaled and I was unable to work for over a month due to my injuries. Even then I was only able to work part time and was in considerable pain. Fortunately I did have someone around to help care for me during this time. And I was able to get ahold of another vehicle to drive. But the tires were bald on it and there was no way I could buy new ones. When winter came it was becoming downright dangerous for me to drive. I kept driving anyway because I felt I had to. And, so I drove to our yearly employee Christmas party one night in December and was having a fun time playing games and visiting with everyone. I remember we each had to bring a small inexpensive gift to exchange. Anyway, we are almost done with the gift exchange when I hear my name called. I was called up to the front of the room, not having a clue.

I must have looked like a game show contestant, because next thing ya know Joey is there standing in front of four brand new tires with a bow on them that somehow I didn’t notice before. He had bought me four brand new tires for my car! And I did literally jump up and down with my hand over my mouth in dis-belief. What on earth moved him to do such a thing? Someone with so little to give, to do something so big, still amazes me when I think about it to this day. If I told this story before, I apologize, but it think it’s worth sharing again. And I doubt he will ever think or realize just how much it meant to me. Thank you Joey, wherever you are today!

Re: Heart to Heart to Win

Posted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:19 pm
by Spiritwind
Interesting how the winged ones seem to have so much to teach us. This is not really new, but here is another story to warm the heart.

Re: Heart to Heart to Win

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:01 pm
by Spiritwind
The power of love in action. Beautiful story.


Re: Heart to Heart to Win

Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 3:20 pm
by Spiritwind
The following is a story about love for the earth and all life in action. We can create miracles of healing and new life in ways we haven’t even thought of, sometimes even just by accident. If we all did this, or even just a substantial portion, things could change for the better pretty fast.

Man Accidentally Discovers How to Grow Coral 40 Times Faster
December 6, 2018 ... YE3Rj5hImc" onclick=";return false;

A marine biologist is postponing retirement until he plants a million corals, after discovering he can grow a reef that would normally take up to 75 years in just three years

A marine biologist in Florida was about to retire when he accidentally shattered a piece of coral into a bunch of tiny pieces in his lab and they started growing 40 times faster than they grow in the wild.

Coral normally takes between 25 and 75 years to reach sexual maturity. The new technique called “micro fragmenting” reduces it to just three years.
With around half as much coral in the ocean today as there was just 50 years ago, it’s a revolutionary discovery that could literally save the planet.
“My Eureka moment — or Eureka mistake — was when I broke a coral into tiny pieces,” says Dr. Dave Vaughn, the program manager for coral restoration at the Mote Tropical Research Center:

“I thought it was going to die and be very stressed. Instead it grew like the dickens.”

Each piece grew to a size that normally took a few years in just a few weeks.
Furthermore, the method works on every single species of coral found in the Florida Reef.

“I’ve postponed my retirement until I see a million corals replanted back on the reef,” he says in the BBC interview below:

“We’ve lost between 25 and 40 percent of the world’s coral,” Vaughn says in the video above. “If you’re wondering if that’ll make a difference or not, you should ask yourself if you like to breathe.”

He notes that land plants produce only about a third of the oxygen we breathe. The rest comes from the ocean.

Vaughan’s team now plans on teaching his method to conservationists around the world so they can collectively plant one million corals within the next few years.

Re: Heart to Heart to Win

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:09 pm
by Spiritwind
Men Rescue “Dog” From Ice Find Wolf ... iqDBCfHIDY" onclick=";return false;

( I could tell it was a wolf right off!)

Kind-hearted Estonian workers rushed to rescue a dog in distress from a freezing river on Wednesday - unaware of the fact they were actually about to bundle a wild wolf into their car.

The men were working on the Sindi dam on the Parnu river when they spotted the animal trapped in the icy water.

After clearing a path through the ice, they took the frozen canine to a clinic for medical care.

Only then was it revealed they had been carrying a wolf.

The Estonian Union for the Protection of Animals (EUPA) said the wolf had low blood pressure when it arrived at the veterinarian's office, which may have explained its docile nature after the men carried it to their car to warm it up.
Speaking to the Estonian newspaper Postimees, one of the men, Rando Kartsepp, said: "We had to carry him over the slope. He weighed a fair bit."
"He was calm, slept on my legs. When I wanted to stretch them, he raised his head for a moment," he added.

Veterinarians had some suspicions over the large dog's true nature, but it was a local hunter, familiar with the region's wolves, who finally confirmed it for what it was: a young male wolf, about a year old.

Armed with this new information, clinic staff decided to put the wolf in a cage after treatment - in case it became less docile once it recovered.

The EUPA said it paid for the animal's treatment, and that "luckily, everything turned out well".

- EU moves to protect big beasts
- Danes tag first wolf pack in 200 years
- France to let wolf population grow

The wolf recovered from its brush with death within the day and, after being fitted with a GPS collar by researchers from the national environmental agency, was released back into the wild.

"We are so happy for the outcome of the story, and wish to thank all the participants – especially these men who rescued the wolf and the doctors of the clinic who were not afraid to treat and nurture the wild animal," EUPA said.
Estonia is home to hundreds of wolves, only a handful of which have been collared in recent years. As a species, they usually avoid humans.

It was picked as Estonia's national animal last year by a group of nature organisations.

(The only thing that bothers me about this story is that there are many people who could benefit from such kindness, and yet so many just turn a blind eye. All life matters!)

Re: Heart to Heart to Win

Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:18 pm
by Spiritwind
Beautiful story that made me cry. Once again, love wins the day. I encourage you to go to the link to see the pictures.

Photographer Documenting the Homeless Discovers Her Own Father Among Them ... toa4zI7WA0" onclick=";return false;

Honolulu, Hawaii-based photographer and law student Diana Kim can trace her love of photography back to her father, who used to own a photography studio on O’ahu. Until just a few years ago, however, not much else connected father and daughter except for a strained relationship marked by disappointment, hurt, and absence. A chance encounter brought the two back together again, sparking an extraordinarily moving journey of love and forgiveness in the face of mental illness, homelessness, and hardship.

“Some of the earliest memories I have of my father is of him giving me Ring Pop candies whenever my mother and I would visit him,” Kim, 30, told NBC News. “I had an insatiable craving for sweets and he would go behind my mother’s back and sneak me gummy bears and Ring Pops.”

That was over 25 years ago, when their family was still together. Eventually, however, Kim’s parents separated, and her father left when she was 5. Afterward, she had a tough childhood, bouncing from place to place in search of a permanent home. She spent her younger years living at relatives’ homes, staying with friends, or in parks and cars. Despite these early hardships, however, Kim has built a happy life for herself; she has a family of her own with her husband and two sons, and has pursued her passion for photography, advocacy, and law.

In 2003, as a student, Kim began photographing homeless people on the street for a personal project that would eventually lead to The Homeless Paradise, an initiative dedicated to humanizing the homeless by sharing their stories. The photographer told NextShark, “I first started photographing the homeless community in my first year of college. I gravitated towards the homeless because in some ways I identified with their struggle. I knew what it meant to be discarded, to be neglected, and to not have the stability and economic freedom I wanted. Overall, I understood their struggle because I struggled in the same way.”

Although Kim’s project shaped much of her life and her decision to go to law school, the biggest impact came in 2012. While documenting homeless people on the streets of Honolulu, Kim came across her own father. The man who she remembered abandoning her as a child was now homeless, unwashed, dressed in rags, and extremely thin. Worst of all, he didn’t even recognize her.

“I found him standing at the corner of a busy intersection staring into the asphalt. His hair was matted and his head rolled in small circles. . . I inched closer towards him, feeling a sense of uncertainty, and finally found the courage to call out to him. He didn’t hear me. He couldn’t hear me. I slowly stepped closer and mustered up the courage to tap him on the shoulder. Still nothing. He didn’t look up. He didn’t turn around. By now there were a couple of pedestrians who had noticed my efforts, and I could feel their eyes burning into my back and face. I could feel their curiosity pierce through the space between my father and I. The vast emptiness between us was broken by a woman who approached me and said, ‘Don’t bother, he has been standing there for days.’

“A part of me wanted to scream at this woman, and the world, for being so callous. I wanted to yell that he was my father, that she was a heartless person to not care. But I realized that none of that would change the circumstances. So instead of screaming at her, I faced her and said, ‘I have to try.'”

For the next two years, Kim kept returning to the street that her father called home. Sometimes he would be there, sometimes he wouldn’t. Afflicted by severe schizophrenia, he was often unresponsive, or would argue intensely with the empty space in front of him. He refused to get treatment, take medication, eat, bathe, or wear any of the new clothes Kim brought him. Sitting next to him on the street corner or watching him from her car during one of his angry spells, Kim wondered if he would ever get better.

Despite how hopeless the situation seemed, Kim refused to stop helping him. She recalled one of the last “real conversations” she had had with her father a few years ago, during which he had said, “Diana, I am so sorry for not being in your life. I am so happy that you have a family of your own now. Do better for them. Don’t worry about me or what everyone says about me. If you want to make me proud and happy, be there for your family the way your mom and I never were. Stop trying to save everyone…just worry about yourself and your family. And don’t forget why I named you Diana, you are the light within the darkness.” In that moment, Kim reminisced, his words touched her heart, and she forgave him for everything. She loved her father, and she would never give up on him.

In October 2014, Kim got a call from her cousin. Her father had suffered a heart attack. He was found face-down on the sidewalk, but someone called the police, and he was rushed to critical care at the hospital. Kim said, “I cannot even begin to describe the feelings of gratitude for the person who took the time to help him. My biggest fear has always been that he would die on the streets, and nobody would know who he was. My desperation and feelings of hopelessness are over for now.”

Stepping into the hospital room, Kim saw her father lying on the bed, looking cleaner and better than she had seen him in a long time. She and her husband stood by his side, and then, “Just as we were about to leave, my father’s eyes opened and he called out my name,” she wrote on her blog. “We had a good conversation, and I walked away feeling lighter that day.”

The next few months were difficult, as Kim’s father went through ups and downs during his stay at the hospital. Despite his health problems, there was a silver lining to his heart attack–it led him to finally agree to receive help through a treatment plan, and day by day, he began to take back control of his life.

In December, Kim received a phone call from an unknown number. It was her father, asking her if she was free for coffee that morning. She immediately agreed and ran straight out of the house to see him. They met on the street where he had once owned a photography studio decades earlier–the same street where he had slept behind a pile of cardboard boxes for the past two years.

“As I pulled up into the parking lot, I saw my father’s figure and my heart nearly stopped. He looked better than I had expected, and so different from the last image I had of him in the hospital,” Kim said. “It felt so good to see him so healthy, and standing so tall again. We must have hugged for a couple of minutes.” They paid their respects at a Buddhist temple, looked at old photos that Kim’s father had kept with him all these years, and finally opened up to each other in a long, heartfelt conversation.

“I feel like I just met my father for the first time today,” Kim wrote on her blog later that day. “Our meeting was truly a miracle.”

“Initially, the fact that I couldn’t ‘fix’ my dad tore me apart,” Kim shared in a photo essay published in Honolulu Magazine. “And because our time together on the streets was more than I had ever spent with him as a child, I struggled to reconcile my feelings toward my father’s absence in my life, while continuing to care deeply for him and other homeless individuals. Over time, I learned to navigate through my feelings of desperation and became more vocal in my community about my father’s condition and what it’s like to watch a loved one battle mental illness.”

Now, Kim is happy to report that her father is doing well. “He is really proud of the fact that he has overcome such incredible adversity… He has goals, he has hope, and he has the will to succeed,” she told NBC News. He’s spending time with friends, actively looking for a job, and planning to visit his family in South Korea soon.

“Every day is a gift. Some days are more challenging than others, but seeing my father in the flesh is a constant reminder of the strength of the human spirit and how precious life is,” said Kim, who’s taking her relationship with her dad one step at a time. “I never had a relationship with my father growing up, and there was a lot he did and didn’t do that hurt me, but I have chosen to forgive him so we can move forward.”

“Photography is not just about creating images–it is my window to experiencing the world and sharing relationships with people and things that I am drawn to. Looking through the lens and capturing that moment also captures my feelings in that moment. I think that, without the camera, I would have felt too naked and vulnerable to approach my father. I don’t think I could have made the same journey without the purpose of documenting his journey as well. My goal, long before my father ever became homeless, was to humanize those who lived on the streets. They each have a story, and I hope that by sharing my own story, it helps to give new perspective.”

“So long as we are alive in this world, every day is an opportunity to take hold of that ‘second chance.’ There is no failure unless you give up, and he never gave up. And I haven’t given up on him.”

Re: Heart to Heart to Win

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:11 pm
by Spiritwind
Here is a story right up my alley.

This inner-city farm is changing lives in an extraordinary way. ... dinary-way" onclick=";return false;?

Bonton, a community in south Dallas, Texas, is probably the last place you'd think to start a farm.


It feels like it's been abandoned by the rest of the city. 85% percent of the men who live in Bonton have been incarcerated. Many of its residents have a hard time finding work and making ends meet.

For many of Bonton's residents, fresh produce isn't a realistic expectation. Nearly two-thirds of the people who live there don't have reliable transportation. And the nearest grocery store, one that doesn't just sell processed food, takes three hours to get to and back from by bus. The neighborhood is pretty much the definition of a "food desert."

What's worse, the lack of fresh fruits, meats and vegetables has contributed to Bonton's skyrocketing disease rates. The men of Bonton don't live as long as the ones who live in the rest of Dallas. Rates of stroke, cancer, heart disease and diabetes are double compared to the rest of the city. Child obesity is also a serious concern.

These are just links in a long chain of problems that a lack of opportunity has created.

Even though more than a million people live in Dallas, many don't know what's happening in Bonton. Daron Babcock was one of them.

Seven years ago, Babcock says, he had "a normal career in business." Life was going as planned. But then one day Babcock had breakfast with a friend. That friend was working with a group of men from Bonton who had recently been released from prison and were trying to get back on track. If Babcock didn't have anything going on, his friend said, perhaps he might like to join him.

Going out to the neighborhood was a turning point for Babcock. Seeing Bonton's residents struggle was something he couldn't unsee. He'd never known what it was like to tread water like the people of Bonton have to, but he knew he had to help.

"What kind of person can you be, how do you live with yourself once you're aware?" says Babcock. "Just ignore and act like it didn't happen? I couldn't do that."

So he sold his home, left his career and moved into a house with no electricity.


Because buying land in Bonton is difficult, Babcock made a deal with Habitat for Humanity: In exchange for a place to stay, he'd help keep a home secure that had recently been abandoned.

The neighbors didn't take to him at first; they didn't trust a man who didn't share their background. They took bets on what branch of law enforcement Babcock was in.

But Babcock didn't win anyone over with big promises or ideas. He became part of the neighborhood by admitting that he didn't have any answers.
"I just went to learn and build relationships, and so they were gracious in teaching me this stuff," he says.

What people wanted, says Babcock, were jobs. They wanted security, financial stability, a sense of ownership over their own lives. That's how the farm began.

It started with a community garden. Then Bonton's residents were given a gift of land to grow the garden bigger by Collins Concrete.  When that happened, Babcock realized that Bonton Farms was doing much more than giving people access to fresh food. Working together provided the community members with a renewed sense of purpose.

Today, Bonton Farms is helping people eat healthy, start a new job, earn an income, spread their wings, and build a strong future for themselves and their community.

Aside from the farm itself, Babcock has started multiple social enterprises which also employ people, and teach them what it takes to start their own businesses.

"One of the things we've learned in working with men coming out of prison, is we have a really broken country, where not everybody has equal opportunity," explains Babcock.

"It doesn't matter whether you're coming out of incarceration, or whether you're coming out of substance abuse, or a domestic violence shelter. You may no longer be beaten up, or being high, or locked up anymore, but you're also no more prepared to go out and flourish, than if you were."

Through continued social entrepreneurship, Bonton Farms addresses this adversity that people in Bonton face and helps build solutions in partnership with the community.

Bonton Farms has become a place where men and women can come when they need someone to walk alongside them while they're recovering and figuring out the path they'd like to take. It's a place where they can feel supported as they learn how to adjust to working.

Participants may not sit in a group and discusses their pasts, but wounds are healed and new connections are made through hard work and a shared commitment to creating a better life. And the proof is in the numbers: not one person has been re-incarcerated since beginning work at Bonton Farms or one of its related enterprises.

Babcock would like to see creative efforts like Bonton all across America. Stand Together is helping the community bring those dreams closer to a reality.

The farm couldn't get by without help, and it's found an incredible partner in Stand Together, an organization that's helping break the cycle of poverty by supporting the country's most innovative social entrepreneurs. Thanks to Stand Together, they're able to scale their efforts in existing communities and other places that need it. The organization provides capital, business consulting, and connections to other resources to help these entrepreneurs' initiatives grow.

"One of the main things Stand Together has done is given us credibility," says Babcock. "Some of the greatest inventions come from somebody taking a chance on something that's never been done before."

Stand Together invests in solving the biggest problems facing our nation today in order to unleash the potential in every individual, regardless of their zip code. That means supporting social entrepreneurs who're close to the problem and have developed creative solutions that are working.

"If we're going to change the status quo, if we're really going to disrupt the way things are, it's going to take new thinking that hasn't been done yet."

"New thinking" is helping Bonton Farms solve problems like poverty, hunger and joblessness. But it's the people that are truly changing the neighborhood.

It would be easy to just label Bonton Farms a success, praise the way it's solving community problems and call it a happy ending. But that's not how Babcock sees it. "There needs to be an understanding that the farm is the hub. It's the vehicle that allows us to do all this." he notes.

Sometimes, he explains, people get the idea that it's the farm work that's the catalyst for change. It's a beautiful story, but it isn't true. The real change comes from the people, the connections they're making, and the sense of hope that permeates the community when neighbors see each other flourishing.

"They see [others] doing better for themselves and for their family, [and think] that it's possible for them, too," says Babcock. "Ultimately, it's the people who took that challenge to fight for a better life that become the change agents for the rest of the neighborhood."