In January of 1999 I made a new year's resolution to do something that I was always afraid to do. Taking a vacation by myself terrified me. What would people think, seeing me sitting by myself in the Tiki bar? Would the waiters think I didn’t have any friends?
I had heard of service vacations, and thought that maybe if I did one of those, I wouldn’t feel like a loser. So, that July, I flew to Quito, Ecuador, to volunteer at a day care center for handicapped children (that's me, kneeling, on the left in the photo).
How exciting! So exciting, in fact, that one of my best friends, Angela, joined me. So in hindsight never I achieved that new years’ resolution.
But back to the story. When I arrived, I never saw such poverty. Mothers selling toilet paper on street corners. Homes made of corrugated, rusty tin with spaces in between so wide that wild dogs entered and tore the hand off a child with cerebral palsy. Families sacrificing to buy potato chips for us during home visits. Disabled kids at the day care center tied into kitchen chairs by string and rope to sit upright.
And I saw love. Kids sharing, laughing, supporting each other. No one realized they were handicapped except for me (I have a whole other story on that, and it involves water balloons and lots of mud), and maybe, after some reflection, I realized that I was the one with the disability.
Twenty-two years ago Ecuador jarred my life into a new trajectory. Those two short weeks showed me a world so unlike my own, with stories of others that I wanted to share (hint: keep reading these newsletters!) That was the beginning of my own journey that ultimately led to Heard.
Thank you for the love you show for our art team, partners, and clients.