Recipe for Hope – In case you missed it!

Good morning friends of Care and Share!

If you missed Recipe for Hope this year, we invite you to read this amazing speech that was given by Jenny Bealis-Schell, co-owner of the Design Rangers. This beautiful gift is too wonderful to not be shared. Please read and enjoy!

I’m going to begin by quoting a famous person, because my Google searches on writing a good speech taught me that I should begin — by quoting a famous person. Unfortunately, my Google searches also revealed that this quote is falsely attributed to Winston Churchill…
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
I can’t tell you exactly when I became a giver. I know that for as long as I can remember, I’ve felt a strong, sometimes paralyzing presence of empathy in my life. I feel constantly compelled to give back, as much as I can, as often as I can, to people in need. My therapist tells me it’s because I’ve been there. I’ve been in the situations that I see reflected in the lives of others. When I see children and families who are cold and hungry, my entire being is taken back to those specific
moments in my life.

The story of my childhood is a rather unconventional one–even for a child of the 70’s. It started out pretty typical– I was born at St. Francis hospital right here in Colorado Springs. My dad sold Porsches (and used records) and my mom worked part-time, but was very focused on raising me. My parents divorced when I was 3 and my mom was pulled towards an “off-the-grid” lifestyle — I had no choice but to go along for the ride.

When I was 4 1/2, the two of us moved to Lawrence– an actual ghost town a mile & a half outside of Victor, Colorado. My mom and I lived in a small cabin that had no running water or electricity — just a wood burning cook stove for heat, kerosene lanterns for light and an outhouse about 30 yards away, which you can be sure felt like 30 miles in a blizzard.

My mom and I would take turns being the town Mayor and Police Chief. We celebrated the small things like monthly birthdays and having enough money to grab a cheeseburger and play Dolly Parton on the jukebox at Zeke’s Bar. My grandparents, who lived in Colorado Springs, would save their empty gallon milk jugs for us and we would fill them with drinking water at the spigot in front of Victor’s City Hall and then haul them home in our VW Bug that had been converted into the worlds smallest pick-up truck.

By the age of 5, I could drive a stick shift, hotwire a car (don’t ask), carry 6 gallon jugs of water at a time, and chop enough wood to get a warm fire going. I was basically a “modern day” Laura Ingalls Wilder, with my very own Little House on the Prairie.

My mom worked hard — always holding down one, or two jobs. But good paying jobs in our little mountain town were hard to come by and we constantly struggled to make ends meet. As for my dad? By that time in my life, he had also gone off-the-grid, and the months he didn’t pay child support far, far outweighed the ones he did.

On the sunny days in our little ghost town, my mom would open the front door and our pony Goldie and our goat Rhoda were allowed in the house. When it rained, my mom sent me outside with a bottle of shampoo to stand under the gutter and wash my hair. On really cold nights the water
in the milk jugs would freeze in the house and I learned that getting dressed for school the night before meant you didn’t have to get changed into freezing cold clothes the next morning.

I learned to recognize the sound of the pack rat roaming around at night, rummaging through our house for things she thought she needed more than us — like walnuts and socks. I learned that grocery stores threw out a lot of food, and that if you went into their dumpsters after they closed, you could find enough food to make a few simple meals & maybe even a little treat for the cats. I also learned that the days we drove to Woodland Park to pick up the food stamps were good days and the days that my mom was feeling lonely, desperate and mentally unhealthy were long, dark days — for
the both of us.

So how did I get from that little ghost town to this stage, standing in front of you? How did I keep my head-up and find the bright spots in a sometimes very dim situation? How did I learn to find the
positive, no matter how many negatives? I’m convinced it’s because of the people who reached out & gave what they could to me and my mom.

They invited us over for sourdough pancakes on cold winter mornings, they included is in their Thanksgiving dinner so we didn’t have to be alone, they filled a black trash bag with Christmas presents and delivered it our door, they took me in and treated me as if I was their own daughter.

Brian and Rosemary Hayes
Connie and Norbie Larsen
Tom and Ginger Kuhlmann
Jim and Patty Jennings

Your kindness set me on a positive path and taught me more than you’ll ever know. You taught me that giving, in any form, makes the dark days brighter and the hopeless days shimmer with hope. You taught me that all lives matter, everyone is worth something, and that I am not my darkest days.

Jenny Bealis-Schell pauses as she speaks about her childhood
Beautiful images captured by Sean Cayton

So on behalf of Care and Share, I ask you to not only think of your donation today as an act charity, I ask you to consider whose life you might be changing? Whose life you might be sending on a different course than the one that was plotted before you arrived. What young person in our community will remember a cabinet full of food as a symbol of hope and love? A gesture of compassion, that will instill them with a sense of what it truly means to give. And when that young person grows into a successful adult, just think of all the good they can do — with your gift in their heart.

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