This past weekend I had the privilege of being part of one of the most spectacular weekends EVER! The Gerard Butler GALS and the Rising Phoenix Charitable Foundation’s Annual Fundraising Gala in Las Vegas. This event raises money for the Angels of East Africa (the orphanage we visited in Sudan a few years ago) and The Shade Tree which shelters women, children and their pets. Last year, my husband and his band performed at the event and I was invited to join as a guest speaker this year. Our connection came via our friend Sam Childers aka The Machinegun Preacher whom actor Gerard Butler portrayed in the movie. I knew this was going to be a great weekend, but– WHOA BABY, it blew my headscarf right off my head and far exceeded my expectations.
I want to thank ALL the wonderful women of GB Gals and RPCF for inviting me and I look forward to making a difference alongside you ladies for years to come!
I instantly felt part of the amazing sisterhood these women have created and was greeted with so many warm hugs. They call themselves “boobie squishers”. I joined right in on the boobie squishing and fell in love with these women. On Friday, I led an SOS workshop on Compassion/Connection/Confidence + Courage and soon found out that this encouraging group and the connection it has provided rescued many of the women from various circumstances in their lives. We laughed, we cried and I am grateful for their transparency and open hearts. A few weeks ago, I wrote about “connection” here on the blog and witnessed it’s affects right in front of my eyes over the course of the 72 hour love fest. SO BEAUTIFUL! These women are genuine instruments of love and compassion.
I have so many new sistas for life!
On Saturday, we all visited The Shade Tree where several of the GALS did volunteer work and fed lunch. Sam’s wife, Lynn, spoke to the women and shared her personal testimony and my husband and bandmate Irwin Thomas sang for the women and their children. We also got a tour of the entire facility by the beautiful soul, Marlene Richter– Executive Director of TST. To end our visit, we got to hold and show love to a few of the pets over in Noah’s House, the animal shelter. TST is filled with so much love, hope and opportunity for healing. I encourage you to take a deeper look and visit their site. They are always in need of everything from donations, clothing, toiletries, diapers, toys, bedding and pet food. Please go to this link for a detailed list of urgent needs: http://www.theshadetree.org/UrgentNeeds.html
A visual that left a deep impression on my heart was seeing just a small bag or two underneath the bunkbeds. This is all these women own. Talk about putting things into crystal clear perspective! TST accommodates women and their children for emergency care when they need a safe place for a night or two as well as providing transitional shelter programs for up to 2 years. The women receive assistance with finding employment and helping them move forward in becoming self-sufficient.
Noah’s Animal House is a pet sanctuary for shelter residents which allow women to escape abusive situations without leaving behind their pet. In homes where there is violence, pets are often threatened or injured by the violent partner. It is not uncommon for an abuser to continue to control the relationship using the family pet. Noah’s is the first full service facility of its kind located on the grounds of the women’s shelter in the western region of the United States.
Do you have your own pillow to lay your head on tonight in a comfy bed with clean sheets? If so, consider yourself richly blessed sista! There are so many women out there without a bed to call their own. They are forced to flee their home because of abuse with only the shirt on their back. Can you imagine fitting everything you own under a 4×6 bunkbed? My heart is so full of love, gratitude and compassion. For the week ahead, let our focus be to appreciate everything in our lives, give gratitude (even for clean sheets) and open our hearts more than ever to those in need. WE ARE ALL SO BLESSED.
This experience is a gift I will cherish forever! If what I shared tugged at your heartstrings, I encourage you to reach out to TST, Angels of East Africa or find a shelter in your area that could use your help.
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