Success So Far
Katrina was a wake up call for me. I grew up in Louisiana and my family still lives there. After the storm, I talked to my sister and she told me about the distress, the lack of assistance and the great suffering. Hearing this, a surge of depression hit me so strong, it left me numb. When my daughter, Teisha, asked me what was wrong, I told her about my sister’s conversation. I told her how people, especially black people, were being treated, discriminated against, how difficult it was to get by and how helpless I felt without any resources to help them. Teisha, said to me, “If anybody can do anything for those people, Dad, you can do it!” These were the words that got my adrenalin going and have kept me going ever since.
That was the beginning of my vision. I went to the town clock in Santa Cruz on faith. I had misspelled signs, a truck and a trailer. I went there Monday morning and sat there all day. Two people dropped off donated items. Tuesday, several more people brought items. By the end of the week over a thousand people dropped off items and many volunteers joined in and helped organize, sort and box the collections and then load trucks and trailers. An article was written in the local paper about this grassroots effort to help the Katrina storm survivors. My vision was to load up one truck and trailer and make one trip. But by Friday, we had 5 trucks and 5 trailers filled with over $100,000 worth of goods donated by the Santa Cruz County residents. Nine volunteers went with me driving across the country to Louisiana.
I didn't know the volunteers in the beginning, but as we traveled the feeling of family and a powerful oneness came over all of us. Upon returning I had learned that among my helpers had been two alcoholics, a drug user , a gang member and a divorcee. Some how the trip had been trans formative for them. A year later, the alcoholic approached me and told me he hadn’t taken a drink in a year, was attending AA meetings and had returned to his wife and kids. The next day he brought the second alcoholic to meet me. He was in recovery too. I didn’t recognize him. With a shave, a haircut, new clothes and a good diet he was transformed.
I also know the gang member, for the last two years, has been attending Cabrillo College and loving it. The drug addict is in a recovery program. The divorcee went back to his wife, is holding down a good job and doing well. His wife said to me with teary eyes, “Thank you”.
I didn't know the volunteers in the beginning, but as we traveled the feeling of family and a powerful oneness came over all of us. Upon returning I had learned that among my helpers had been two alcoholics, a drug user , a gang member and a divorcee.
Since the first caravan, in 2005, I have dedicated my life to helping people in distress in Louisiana, Santa Cruz and Watsonville. In 2006 with the help of volunteers, Follow Your Heart delivered eight tons of donated items to the people of Louisiana along with 500 wrapped presents for the children. This opened with a open mike of community concerns, prayers and an encouragement circle. The last five years we have served migrant camps, woman's shelters and soup kitchens in Santa Cruz County. In all Follow You Heart has distributed over $ 2,000,000.00 worth of items on a budget of $8,000.00 a year. With your help just think of the possibilities.
I, with the help of generous volunteers, have made twelve more trips to Louisiana. A total of 30 trucks and trailers have carried donated items from Santa Cruz County to Katrina survivors.
As of 2011 we have building material, clothes, household appliances, and furniture. These type of items keep
coming in but we don't have gas money to make the deliveries. We really could use your help to get this grassroots organization off the ground. Please consider donating money using PayPal.