February 20, 2016

'Aha!' Don't Miss Out on Life's Special Moments

I was recently in Washington, D.C. to cover a story about Asian Americans and caregiving with AARP and found some heroes in action at a park near my hotel.

If you know me well, you’d know that I love food and exercise. Yes, I said I love exercising!

One morning, I went to the hotel gym to do my workout and then felt inspired to go on a quick jog around downtown D.C. After about a mile, I realized the demographics around me changed.

I ran through a park and noticed a long line of people waiting to get socks, clothes and warm meals for the homeless. It was cold outside but witnessing this warmed my heart.

I followed my “Aha!” instinct (maybe it’s the journalist in me) and ran back to meet the folks behind the kindness. I was conscious not to mess up their well-oiled operation. I spoke with a couple of people before being introduced to Teanna Jones, who is part of the Alfred Street Baptist Church “A Heart 2 Serve” Homeless Outreach Ministry.

Another “Aha!” hit me. I asked her if I could do a quick interview – a selfie talk if you will – on my phone. She said yes. I silently screamed, “Hallelujah!” This is the magic that ensued. Hold on to your jaw. It’ll drop when you hear how this operation started.



After the shoot, I told Ms. Jones about the heroes I’ve met and documented on my journey with Go Inspire Go. We laughed a lot, connected a lot and “Amen!”-ed a lot.

A group of other volunteers listened in and we all laughed and shared inspiring stories with each other. She let me know how every September their church hosts a “Feed the 5000” event. My heart skipped a beat. Our souls connected. This was divine intervention. I knew instantly that she was a sister from another mister, and that I had made a friend for life.

The moral of the story:

1. Be adventurous and follow your “Aha!” Don’t know what that is? Pay attention to your gut. My gut told me to go on a jog. It told me to stop because I would’ve regretted not finding out what was going on (yes, even though I left the news biz to discover everyday heroes and share their stories years ago, I am still as inquisitive as ever).

2. Be open to serendipity. Instead of thumbing through Facebook or Instagram while walking around (you know you’re guilty like me), look up, look down, look all around. You’ll be surprised by the connections you’ll make with your surroundings and others.

3. Everybody has a power. You don’t have to be rich… (channeling Prince) or famous (channeling Oprah). You just have to care (channeling your inner hero).

Inspired to help? Take action:
1. Learn more about Alfred Street Baptist Church and their “A Heart 2 Serve” Homeless Outreach Ministry.
2. Think about what you enjoy and build upon it by using that hobby or your talents to help others.
3. There is no one right way to give back. Just do it. Still stumped? Share this story. Amen to you!

What can you do?

Onward and upward,
Toan

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