The Women’s group took place once a month for about 9 months. We learned so much about each other and from each other. We had ages ranging from 25 to 56 which was GREAT! Relationships were formed there that would prove to be lasting. We had cultivated ideas about reaching out to our community. We were looking for causes we could help. I was telling them we could do anything, we just had to put our minds to it.
September 2011 a BIG OPPURTUNITY arose. Our small area had a huge flood when Hurricane Lee’s power was unleashed, whole neighborhoods were devastated and sadly in the poorest areas. It was heart wrenching to see. At this point I had seen things on TV like Hurricane Katrina, but it still doesn’t hit you like it does when it is in your own backyard. My mom had called me like she always does in the morning the day after the storm. We were talking about how unbelievable this all was, it was surreal. We wished we could help in some way it was a helpless feeling. She said, you have a business now, there’s an outlet for you to collect supplies. I thought that’s a great idea. We talked about it and then I went right to my Facebook page and sent out a message. If anyone would like to drop off cleaning supplies (Mops, bleach, towels, brooms, buckets) at GiGi’s My family will then go door to door and hand them out to the affected areas. Like my request for the Women’s group I thought I’ll get a few responses. Well, within 20 minutes of posting that request I already had donations. It was great that people were so willing to help, and they kept coming and kept coming. Until the one aisle of our small gift shop was full of supplies of all kinds. We set out that evening the family, my girls included and went door to door giving supplies out, we listened to all the accounts of what they were experiencing, it was so sad to see and hear what was being endured. Some houses had water come in from the basement all the way up to the first floor. We finished up and the next day which was Sunday the day GiGi’s is closed. So I put out a message that I would continue to collect supplies from my home and that people could drop off on my porch, and they did. We delivered again for hours on Sunday. That night I crawled in bed, and thanked the Lord that I had a warm, dry bed to sleep in after seeing so many without.
Monday morning came and I pulled into the parking lot of our plaza and there were people waiting for me with their supplies in hand. The whole day was just overwhelming, the donations had doubled from Saturday and it was too much for just us to deliver. I went back to my Facebook page and requested runners that could help deliver the supplies in the areas we had not gotten to yet. Again, there was an overwhelming response people were at the door ready, families and even fire departments, they just wanted to know where to go.
I fell into bed that night feeling exhausted mentally and physically, yet feeling so thankful that I lived in a place where there was an over abundance of generosity from so many. At this point it had spread further than merely my Facebook page and everyone in the community was a buzz, the newspaper even came out and did an article and took pictures. Tuesday morning I woke, I laid in bed and wondered what this day would hold. I prayed and felt such a presence of the Lord’s hand in all that was happening. I thought back to my prayer several months before, when I had asked God to use me If I could be of service to him and all at once I realized that HE was answering that prayer. That God had actually heard me, and that he was working miracles through a willing heart, I sobbed, literally uncontrollably cried for a half an hour. I called my girlfriend Deb that had let me use the building for my meetings, she was a very knowledgeable, and spiritual woman who had been walking with the Lord for many years. I said to her did God actually hear me???? He is doing all of this!!!! I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. My next question is does he think I can handle this? Because at this moment in my crying my eyes out, I didn’t feel equip, but she assured me that he would not give me anything I could not handle and to just pray and ask for his guidance. I went to the store and this day was just as unbelievable, I received a call from the Local hospital they wanted to donate at least 1,000 pairsof plastic gloves for the flood victims, They delivered them to the store a short time later, then I got a call from an Italian restaurant that wanted to give me vouchers to hand out for a free pizza, they donated 500 pizzas. Next the ambulance company sent $500 worth of supplies. As I was fielding these phone calls people from the area were coming in and giving me money, and saying we know, you will know who to give it too. I was thinking again like with my friend Joanne, what have I done to give all of these people so much confidence in me. My eyes were slowly opening to the fact that God had his hand in this all along, that I was who I was for a reason, that all I had gone through in my life insecurity, rejection, re inventing myself at every new school, having the drive to make people like me. It was all for this time in my life, not only this situation but for things to come, although I couldn’t imagine anything bigger than this. I was going to shine his glory and that all of these things were the tools that I would need to make it a success!
I prayed, and said Lord all of this money is coming in; I have no idea who to give it to, who needs it the most, please Lord bring the people to me that need it. I did not want the responsibility, what if I was wrong. So, from that moment on I knew I would just trust him for decision making and to lead the ones to me that needed it and he did just that. I got 2 separate calls about the same elderly couple, the calls were both inquiring that if there was anything extra I could do for the couple that they surely deserved a good deed. I headed to the bank as my mom watched over the store to cash some checks I had received and I was going to drop off a couple hundred dollars and some grocery store gift certificates that people had donated to me. I got to the house and to my disappointment no one was there. I left and started to drive back to the store, as I did my cell phone rang a number I didn’t recognize, I answered and there was a woman on the other end, she told me that her son and daughter in law had volunteered a couple of days earlier with delivering some of the supplies and that she wanted to donate some money towards whatever I was doing, I immediately thanked her and she said I want to donate $10,000 dollars, I thought for sure I had heard her wrong, I said come again and she said $10,000 dollars. I started to cry again like a nut…lol…I told her I was not any type of organization and that I would tell her who needed it, but that I would feel better if she gave it, she obliged and I told her about the couple that I had 2 phone calls about. I knew they needed a new water heater and had an estimate from a local oil company. She asked me if I would call the oil company and find out what the estimate was. I did and they said it was $8500. I called her back and told her the amount and she said she was on her way there. She went to the Oil company and paid the entire amount and had it delivered to their home. What a good God we have. She then went to another area that was badly hit some houses were even off the foundation. She went door to door handing out $1500 dollar checks. It was a true miracle and blessing what this woman was doing! People also continued to come to the store telling me about people they knew and what they were going through. I knew that these were the people I needed to give the money to. He was leading them to me, just like I prayed for. This event was another defining moment in my life, I knew and know without a shadow of a doubt, that when we pray, he listens, and if it is in his will, it shall be given.
Psalm 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
* I will post some video footage from the flood and some newspaper articles*