From Swartz Creek, MI currently living in Grand Blanc.
Jan. 21, 2013
“I do not believe we were meant to live ordinary lives.”
When we started this project a few months ago, I didn’t fully realize the impact it would make for me, Patrick or the people we shared the stories with. The Flint Stories Project started out as a way for me to tell a story, but it became so much more than that.
My family went through a hard time when I was in high school that made me realize no one really knows how close they are to losing everything. It was a time we never thought would happen. I bet most of the people we meet on the streets think the same thing, and yet some of us instantly stop and judge them.
What if instead we chose to listen to them, show them love and give them our time? This, to me, is the point of the Flint Stories Project. I do not believe we were meant to live ordinary lives.
I spent most of my life living in Swartz Creek and avoiding downtown Flint. I thought it was dangerous, and frankly there were too many one-way streets for me. The city was unfamiliar and a place I had no desire to visit for the most part.
I heard rumors of it being unsafe and it was outside my comfort zone.
After high school I moved out of town for four years while I attended college but moved back to the area when I found a job, which had me working in downtown Flint. My perspectives of the city have taken a complete 180 since I was in high school.
I see downtown as a place of opportunity. I see it as having the potential to prosper and grow. And I see it as a place that needs more people to care.
I heard people telling me that a project like this a great idea. And for awhile it was only a thought to me, too, until I decided to take the next step.
The more Patrick and I walk around downtown and visit new places, the more I want to learn about the city and venture to places I never have before. I come from a suburban area, so I can’t pretend to know what Flint is all about. But I want to understand better.
When Patrick first approached me with the idea of the Flint Stories Project, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and the excitement for it grew. I didn’t think of myself as someone who could just walk around stopping people on the street and asking for their life story. But where I had weaknesses, Patrick had his strengths. Together, we took action.
By listening to the stories of people who have lived on the streets, the biggest thing I have learned is that you can never know the whole story unless you ask. From a man who was born addicted to cocaine, to another who had a drug problem and a woman who was so fed up with handouts, the one thing they all shared was the desire to work and provide for themselves.
They became more than just a face on the street. They became more than a stereotype. My hope is that by reading these stories, you too will decide to do more than simply think about a great idea. I encourage you to create change.
I never knew something so small as asking to hear someone’s personal story could make such a big difference. In the past few months I’ve learned that simply taking the time to listen to someone can not only change my perspective but hopefully theirs, as well.
After sitting down and meeting them, they become part of my life, part of my story. And I hope they feel like we truly care for them as a person and as a friend.
This project has taken me out of my comfort zone from time to time, but it’s helped me realize the skills and gifts God has given me and how I can use them to do something important.
I am a writer and I have a heart for the people who live on the streets of Flint. The Flint Stories Project has opened my eyes to what’s around me and who’s around me. It’s not just people in downtown Flint. There are people on the corner with signs or maybe someone who crosses your path at a store. There is always someone you could get to know deeper than face value.
And it all starts with listening.
This is the fourth story in a series we are calling Flint Stories Project. Please continue to check back for more stories. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every one has a story. We are listening.