WCW: Candace Gregory-Open Door Mission

For over 60 years the Open Door Mission has been committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty. They serve over 2,000 hot, nutritious meals everyday. EVERY. DAY. Many of the people’s lives they change are veterans of the U.S. armed forces and survivors of abusive households. The average age for a homeless child in America? 9 years old.

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I was invited to a Brunch and Learn at the Open Door Mission a few weeks ago and came out with a very different perspective than I had going in. Candace Gregory, the Mission President/CEO and fearless leader had ignited me. She had absolutely broken my heart, filled it again and then set it on fire. In a good way. Hearing the FACTS about the nations homeless population and seeing her pure dedication and passion in doing the best work she can in OUR city-was tremendous. I looked over at my Mom and said, “I want THAT.” Meaning, that illuminated drive and purpose she was sharing with all of us. It was so palpable, I haven’t shaken it off. I’ve absorbed part of her mission and have been working to spend some of my time and energy to do work for the Open Door Mission and Lydia House as well. (The Lydia house takes in women and children) There are VERY many ways to donate and serve the Open Door Mission, who takes no federal funding and operates from private donations.

So it’s my pleasure to include Candace Gregory as my Woman Crush on this Wednesday.

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What gets you out of bed in the morning? My kids…..bahahaha….I actually do not require that much sleep so I am usually up and going at the crack of dawn.

 What is your motto/mantra? It is what it is….

 Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life when it comes to what you do? Next to Jesus, my parents have been the biggest influence on me and mt life. Their faith, work ethic and integrity.

What are your personal core values? Faith, Trustworthy, Work Ethic and Joy.

Why do you do what you do? It’s my calling to serve others and I want to be obedient to God.

 3 Things you can’t live without. Dark Almond Chocolate milk, my kindle and lobster.

 What do you want people to know about your job? It’s rewarding to see lives changed everyday, to see God at work in people’s lives but its overwhelming and discouraging at times the amount of need that is going unmet.

 Who is your rock? Next to God, my husband, Steve.

 Working at a Non-Profit in Omaha is: awesome.

What is the biggest unfairness in your world? Social Injustice

What is the biggest joy? Several joy’s come to mind – Graduation day and hearing the informational stories of life change….volunteers that are faithful and serving ….and the ocean.

 Something you think but never say. Seriously, are you out of your ever loving mind….

Quote that just “gets you.” If you can not feed everyone than feed one…Mother Theresa

What is your theme song? Overcomer by Mandisa
How can people be involved in your organization and why is it so important? The Open Door Mission could not do what they do …without volunteers. We love volunteers. You are never to young or too old to make a difference. Time changes lives. Please visit http://www.opendoormission.org and click on the volunteer button, today.

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Small thoughts on empathy

Life is precious and wonderful and fleeting.

And when there is terror happening across the world in waves I’ve never known before it illuminates just how fragile it truly is. How it can be so easily disregarded by some who have chosen to abandon it’s value.

I’ve spoken before about how becoming a mother had made me so much more anxious and vulnerable. And it has. I’m going to admit something so embarrassing right now. But maybe I share this with others. When bad things happen, when there are high profile terrorist attacks or shootings–I google the victims. I Facebook them and hold on dear to them as a constant reminder that WE are ONE. The only thing that separates me from them is time and place. That’s the only thing that separates any of us. And that thought is an utter brick in my chest, but also, it’s a blessing.

I want to have that empathy. I want to have the realization that I am not invincible. There is no “that couldn’t be me” about it. Because it gives me hope that others are thinking that same way, shrouding themselves in the kind of empathy that is born of fear and uncertainty. Hoping that the culmination of all of our prayers for peace and for others somehow lift us into a better, safer place-as a planet.

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I don’t like the way it makes me feel…doing that. I feel nervous to leave my house, anxious and edgy. And so much sadness. But beneath that, I feel so intrinsically grateful for every night I get to go to sleep with my family and every morning I wake up to them-days that I can fill with purpose. That gratitude is really what keeps me moving forward some days–getting out of bed despite taking the weight of the world on my shoulders. My husband sometimes has to remind me not to do that. Watch certain things, read certain things–because they become a part of my personality and I can’t shake them off very easily. This dichotomy of grief and gratitude is where I’ve found my drive. My momentum to do…anything and everything I can. NOW.

I let go of faith in a religious way, a long time ago.

I DO believe in higher power, in vibrations, in this mysterious universe with all of it’s unanswered questions. But I REALLY believe in people. I believe in communication, in helping others and truly, in empathy. Even when I have been the MOST PISSED EVER, I was still considering the other persons perspective. And if there is some kind of faith I can build from THAT and gratitude and connection, that would be the one for me.

When I connect with someone that was lost in a tragic way-I feel as though I take a small part of them with me. I want to live MY dreams, because they lost theirs. I want to hug my child tighter, where they can no longer hug theirs. I want to honor their lives by LIVING and never forgetting that WE are ONE. And always, always remembering that they matter.

-Beaufield