Last month, co-hosted by the extraordinary Brady family + StandUP, 25 kids + their parents spent the afternoon together, making bags of love to share with those on the streets of Denver. We talked about compassion, life callings + love.


Libby telling the story of SAME Cafe

During the afternoon, we heard from our friend, Libby Birky, co-founder of SAME Café.  Their mission:  to serve good food for the greater good.  “Committed to presenting culinary delights to all who walk through the door, it is all about food and community, and not so much about price…If your pockets are empty, exchange an hour of volunteer work at SAME for one of the café’s mouth-watering meals.” -SAME Cafe website

Libby told us this story:  “Recently, when I was working on a Saturday by myself I noticed Kate hanging out on the patio. She had been in lots of times over the last couple of years.  When she came, she would be found quietly wiping tables and sweeping the floor to pay for her meal or dropping the change she had in her pocket into the donation box. Kate is not homeless, she doesn’t appear like the stereotype of need. She is well dressed, clean, polite, articulate. But Kate was unemployed. Sometimes she gets a job but it’s part-time and doesn’t last long. I noticed something was different about her this day. She hung out on the patio for quite some time and lingered throughout the day. When the lunch crowd slowed down, she approached the counter reluctantly. I asked if she needed anything else to eat. She leaned in shyly and asked in a very quiet voice, ‘Can I give you a hug?’ As I came around the counter to hug her, I noticed she had tears in her eyes. I am such a sap, I started crying too before I even knew what we were crying about. She shared that today was the first day she was able to pay for her lunch. She finally landed a great job and was so grateful for SAME Cafe.”

IMG_9546I love that SAME Cafe has a created this space for all to eat, together, with dignity.  For Denver peeps, keep this delicious restaurant in mind for lunch meetings or privately catered gatherings with friends, family and colleagues.

Allison McGee Johnson shared about the grand opening of Peak Thrift Store, about youth homelessness in Denver and Urban Peak.  She is passionate to love and support these youth and shared that based on her experience, homelessness comes from 2 things: bad luck and/or bad choices.

Amy Brady, founder of StandUP, did what she does so beautifully and shared some tools of connection and community-building and invited our kiddos to think and share about their experiences with each of the bags of love ingredients {protein bar, energy drink powder, bottle of water, pair of hand warmers, sweet treat, SAME Café  info and a friendship/love note}.  She asked the kids to consider what to do when we find ourselves empty-handed and drive or walk by someone on the street asking for money.  I love and continue to be inspired by their wisdom:  “It’s easy.  We can smile…say hello…wave.”  Share some love.

There is something amazing that happens when people come together in the spirit of making a difference…especially during an event organized by Seeds of Exchange.

What happens, you might ask? Love. Togetherness. Celebration. Joy. Community.  Making a difference. It happens one bottle of water, one story, one Friday afternoon at a time. And then it ripples…

And that is exactly what happened in my home last month when I was honored to host the Bags of Love event. Amid the popcorn, music, and laughter we shared stories and a sense of community, leaving with joy in our hearts as young people carried out their gifts for Denver’s homeless.  -Amy Brady, founder of StandUP

Bags of LoveThe need is likely great in the life of the man or woman on the street, far greater than can be remedied by a small bag of love.  For me, it has been confusing, worrisome, intimidating and frustrating to come face to face with a that which I know I don’t have enough to fill or fix.

It’s caused me to pause, ask, and listen for what might be my response to a need I see – be it in my family, neighborhood or world. I have a deepening sense that it’s not about attempting to fix the problem, but about connecting and sharing some Love, a smile, a hello (as our wise kids suggest).  I sometimes feel nudged to say a prayer for doors of hope, joy and possibility to open in the life of the one I meet. It’s bringing a sense of humility to hold what I have to offer and do in the face of epic pain.  And, yet, I long to stay there and present with an open heart, eyes connected and smile of friendship on my lips.

There is no remedy for love but to love more. – Henry David Thoreau

DSC_0053Back in our circle with the kids, I encouraged the kids to pay attention to what they love, what music and movies they like now.  We talked about embracing life as an adventurous treasure hunt to uncover our callings and vocations.  I asked them to think about: “What seems unfair in the world?” “What captures your attention, seems to be an injustice in our community or world
that you want to do something about one day?”

Their responses: “Women’s rights.” “Kids being kicked out of their homes.” “Dogs + wolves.”

These. Kids. Rock.

Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.  -Frederick Buechner

We celebrated and danced our way out the door to Wollo Ethiopian music led by our sistahs Fatouma and Faiza and then to Congolese music with Godee. The kids giggled and asked, “How do you move your shoulders like that?”  {Click on the links and give it a try.  Have FUN.}

Mulu Wubet – Sekota | Wollo Music from Ethiopia

Bayuda Du Congo | Congolese Music

Want to host a Bags of Love event in your home, kids’ classrooms or at work?  Download our free Bags of Love toolkit. Use our ingredient list as a starting point {protein bar, energy drink powder, bottle of water, pair of hand warmers, sweet treat, SAME Café info and a friendship/love note} and add your elements of connection and celebration.  What pieces come naturally to you – art, music, food and stories?

Shoot us an email or call us {720.301.1510} if you want some ideas to get started AND we’d be overJOYed if you share your stories and pictures with us.

The surest way to the heart is through song and story…I do not know why this should be, but I believe it to be true…Perhaps it is how we are made; perhaps words of truth reach us best through the heart, and stories and songs are the language of the heart. -Stephen Lawhead, Merlin