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Shawn - April 2019

I was with non-profit leaders recently teaching a class on the importance of Freedom. We started out brainstorming words that come to mind when we think of “freedom.” I hadn’t written but a few on the board when someone blurted out, “Responsibility!” What an insightful response! True responsibility can’t exist without some level of independence, autonomy and yes, freedom. To have no responsibility is to be completely dependent and as Marvin Olasky wrote in Tragedy of American Compassion, “Dependency is merely slavery with a smiling mask.” Freedom and responsibility coexist. We teach, preach and offer both at Watered Gardens. Shawn is a great example. Although he has experienced a great deal of tragedy, he recognizes that he is free and that his own journey out of poverty is ultimately his own responsibility.

I lost my mom in 2008, my wife in 2009 and my dad in 2012. It felt like I never got finished grieving before I had to grieve another. I then lost my job fairly soon after my dad’s passing.

I’ve worked all over the country staying in and out of shelters. Watered Gardens is different though. The breathalyzer tests and the fact they track people coming in and out makes me feel safer here. Right now, I’m partnering in the kitchen every day to earn my keep while looking for work. I’ve gone through the career center, and I’m joining a temp agency. I’m starting to find stability again.

I spent so much time wandering, and I just want my life back. Watered Gardens has done everything they can for me. It’s up to me now.

I’ve heard many say, “I couldn’t have done it without you,” but real empowerment starts when someone says, “It’s up to me now.” Your support helped us empower Shawn. We’ve always believed he could do it. Now, he believes it, too. Thank you.