How many times have your heard just “do the right thing” and all will be well. I recently had the opportunity to walk my talk when it comes to doing what’s right and unbeknown to me others were watching.
My next door neighbor went on a normal training bike ride just over two months ago- that day changed his life and everyone he knows for ever. While going over the Montlake Bridge in Seattle, he hit a bump in the concrete flipped his bike and is now an incomplete paraplegic.
I have to admit that I’ve never known anyone that lives life from a wheel chair – any one I know that’s been injured was in a temporary and inconvenienced state with crutches, cane, or illness.
Emails on our block were flying each person wanting to know what the other person had found out. I was then asked to check in with his wife. My opportunity came at 10 pm four days after the accident when my husband spotted her walking in the door. I took a deep breath and sprinted over to the house.
I was nervous. I immediately found myself thinking – what in the world am I going to say. Having been a part of a chronic and life changing illness myself a few years back I knew that each person reacts in their own way and allowing them space and kindness is most important. I knocked and when the door was opened smiled, and looked her in the eyes.
The conversation that ensued created both an out of body experience and a solid grounding experience – kind of hard to explain, but what I knew in that exact moment was that even though I knew it would be absolutely inconvenient and I didn’t know how to make it happen, I knew without a doubt I would do the right thing by unconditionally supporting them to bring Lan home.
That night I said a prayer and wrote an email to our community telling them both what they can do now and what is needed – because it takes a village. They needed a remodel to happen and be complete before he came home. The catch was that there was very little to no money to pay for it.
To help give home we needed to figure out how to bring Lan home. First he needed to be able to get in to the house (which was up steps), his bedroom which was upstairs would need to be moved, doors widened, and bathroom made ADA accessible. I had no idea how this would happen – rather I offered this as the solution of what needed to be done in order for him to come home.
Something amazing happened…project bring Lan Home developed heart and community. In seven weeks we – a newly formed community became a village and Lan came home when his electric wheel chair went up the ramp which still had forms attached to the newly poured concrete.
For seven weeks I mostly ignored my own business and became the heart of this project because it was the right thing to do. During the week we emailed, called, and organized. Each weekend day for seven weekends we had between 18 to 35 people per day showing up and ready to work. We had our own Extreme Makeover Bring Lan Home Edition.
Amazing local businesses listened to our story and donated supplies and gave significant discounts. The city designated the handicap spot within a few weeks – another miracle. People brought food so that others could keep working. When it came down to the last week people took time off from their regular jobs to show up. People that didn’t even know Lan and Laura said yes, we want to help – and they did – in time, talent and financially. The family is taking donations to help cover costs – you can donate to Lan here.
By giving we all received the amazing gift that comes from doing the right thing and saying yes. The gift of being part of something much bigger than yourself.
When you do the right thing – synchronicity shows up.
On my last weekend of the project I received a call from a father at my son’s school; he had something for me. When he showed up on my porch he told me that my name had come up in the vetting process for community philanthropy and he didn’t recognize my last name. At night he was researching the candidates on Google and thought OMG it’s Michele – Eli’s mom.
I was completely surprised. I simply kept my head down and took care of business when it came to the project.
There were so many details, hundreds of emails, hours of coordinating, and then there were the online project management spreadsheets I created to keep us on task and the email marketing campaign to keep everyone informed. I was grateful I had an email marketing program so emails could go out, knew to have them set up paypal to get donations, and love excel and spreadsheets which were used for project management. All of these business tools became personal tools.
I smiled inside as Greg handed me a silver card that is part of Canlis Restaurant Dinner for Life – “Thank you for making a generous difference in our community.” That’s when I fully took in all that has magically been happening for Lan. Yes his accident and becoming an incomplete quadriplegic is unimaginable – yet the gift so many received and are still receiving is being able to say yes to do the right thing and being a part of something so much bigger than themselves.