Just Say Hello Tour
A couple of years ago, I was working as a social worker in Seattle, WA with homeless adults who suffered from severe medical and mental health issues. I absolutely LOVED my clients, and a lot of my job, but it was really stressful. I left my position, and ultimately social work, to start my own company and go in another direction career wise. But I never lost my love of social work, counseling, and working as an advocate for the homeless.
After years of volunteering in a limited basis and building a new life for myself and my daughter, I started to feel like I wanted to do something BIG, a project that would allow me to return to my advocacy roots and also teach my daughter that it's important to help people who are less fortunate, and to appreciate all that we have in life. I had this idea to do 7 major service projects around the world with her, and within that, started to think of things we could do that I felt like would really make a difference.
For years, I have been involved with an amazing nonprofit, Facing Homelessness, and their tagline is Just Say Hello. I have always felt like this is so powerful. So many people we meet who are homeless feel invisible: unseen, ignored, outcast. What if we all just said hello and started to see the beauty in each person, beyond their homelessness? What if I took this message on the road? The Just Say Hello Tour was born. I can't say exactly where it came from, because honestly in many ways it felt as if the idea visited me and would not let go. I simply said yes to it.
My daughter Rory and I took off on what would be an amazing and challenging adventure. Selling nearly everything we own, we moved into this camper van in the summer of 2016, and spent four months traveling around the country to 30 different states, interviewing people who were homeless and telling their stories via social media, and driving over 14,000 miles in our quest to get people to Just Say Hello.
We learned a lot on that trip, and some of those lessons we are still uncovering. While the official Just Say Hello Tour is over, the spirit of Just Say Hello lives on. We continue to say hello to those who live on our streets, volunteer, and publish stories of those we meet and relevant news on our Facebook and Instagram, and Rory and I are working on a children's book to help parents address the complicated issue of homelessness with their young children.
You can learn more about the idea of Just Say Hello at www.FacingHomelessness.com, check out our Facebook and Instagram for stories of those we met, and for additional inspiration, take the time to watch a beautiful TEDx talk by the founder of Facing Homelessness, Rex Hohlbein.