An Idea

On the Saturday night of this year’s Dad 2.0 summit in Washington DC, after dinner I was walking around town with my fellow NYC Dad Group friends Lance Somerfeld and Larry Interrante, It was a beautiful night and we had a great conversation about where the summit has been and where it could go. But I was struck by how many homeless there were in the city. Literally in the shadows of the monuments of the giants of our country.

Coming from New York the sight of the homeless isn’t shocking. But it is still disturbing. We live in a world of comfort and excess, and right outside there are human beings starving and freezing to death. It stuck with me as we gazed at the elaborate home of the most powerful man in the world.

I posted an idea on the official Dad 2.0 summit Facebook group about doing something about it. This year’s summit was themed “legacy”. And while our legacy, is our kids, and to some extent the content we produce, but when we leave a city that is it. Sure, we have impacted the hotel, where most of a record 418 people stayed, we impacted the overpriced hotel bar, local restaurants and the karaoke bar. But what have we done for Washington DC? Most importantly what have we done for the most vulnerable people in DC? Though there was a dad who went back to the hotel to grab one of his swag bags, filled with gloves, hats and soaps to give to a man he had encountered. That was just one guy. But he made a difference to that obe person. Which I regret not doing as well. 

My idea was to have dads do something to help, we will make some sandwiches, and pack goodie bags, with water, a piece a fruit, and perhaps a toiletry item or two, and then distribute them to the men and women who have nothing. One evening during the convention we head out and try to make a difference for a few hours, instead of "networking" at the bar.

Helping the homeless, has been a passion of mine for a few years now. There was a Franciscan friar, who I had gone to elementary school with, came back to my church. He was starting something called Midnight Runs. Basically a group of volunteers would pack into a van, along with supplies, prepared sandwiches, soup and coffee. We would go hit several pre-determined stops where they knew that the homeless congregated. That first evening I went out with the group, we stopped near two of my old offices, then near the hospital that my wife's father passed away in, and the fertility clinic where our daughter was conceived. I was destined to be there. And every month after that I would be there on a Friday night, making sandwiches, and packing up the van with the other volunteers. Some nights were warm, some were frigidly cold. Many of the men and women, had been on the streets for years some for only a few days.

It was really rewarding. “Oh look how good I am” But then it was very depressing. How did these people end up out there? What would their future be? What happened to their families? And I was sad on those frigid nights, when after a few minutes of handing out supplies and food we all loaded back in to a warm van.

Recently one of my scouts, completed an Eagle service project which involved making kits for the homeless. We packed backpacks with essentials, soap, tooth brushes, tooth paste, socks, gloves, granola bars, water, and peanut butter. The bags went to a homeless shelter who distributed them out to those who needed them. I then hooked up with a group in my neighborhood who distributed similar backpacks on a 2 degree morning in NYC.

I propose every year at Dad 2.0, and perhaps at the At Home Dad Net convention, we dads do something for the people of the city we are going to be guests of. I will research this and we will do something to make the world a little bit better. This isn’t a thing that we will be publicizing, it’s just one night that we do something for someone we don’t know that will affect their life even if it’s just for a short time.

No comments: