“Are you serious?” I simply couldn’t believe my ears. Partly shocked. Partly surprised. It’s not every day someone offers to give away an almost brand new car.
A short while earlier, I started talking to this gentleman. Mike. Never met him before.
We did the usual light chit chat. I made a comment about my podcast Long Beach Impact.
He asked what it was about.
I told him. People sharing stories. Having impact in the community.
“What kind of stories do you share?” he asked.
I told him about Helen Dolas. How she founded Able ARTS Work to help developmentally challenged individuals express themselves through art. People with autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, etc.
I told him about one of the students. Maria. Born with cerebral palsy. Quadriplegic. Can’t speak. Can’t communicate. The only thing she can move is her head.
Just a little bit.
When she turned 24, her family brought her to AbleArts Work.
Could they do something for her?
One of the staff had an idea. They took a head band, attached a paint brush to it and put it on her head. They put different paint colors within reach. Then they angled a blank canvas so she could touch the brush to the canvas.
Maria dipped the end of the brush into the blue paint. She put the brush onto the canvas. What was the first thing she painted?
For 24 years, she was trapped in her body. No one knew she could write. Or knew how to write. They didn’t know what her intellectual state was. Because she couldn’t communicate.
But she can now.
Her art work has been on display at LACMA, Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA). She’s done private exhibitions. She’s been commissioned to paint for international clients.
I’m telling this story to Mike. He’s rubbing his arms. His goosebumps have goosebumps.
He pulls out his phone. Starts typing. What was the founder’s name? The name of the organization? What’s the podcast?
I give him the information.
Come to find out – He runs a non-profit as well. They get cars from the police impound lot. Former drug dealin’ pimp mobiles. Rehab, refurbish, rebuild the cars until they are practically brand new.
Then they give those refurbished cars to local charities that are having a real impact. Mike will reach out to Helen to talk about what they can give AbleArts Work.
I couldn’t believe my ears. “Are you serious?”
“Yes,” he replies. “Last year we gave away 33 cars. We want to beat that this year.”
As we parted, he shook my hand. “Cliff, thank you for everything you’re doing. Keep the podcast going. Keep sharing those stories. I’ll be in touch.”
I don’t remember the drive home. Floated home would be more apropos.
I sat at my desk. Looking at my microphone. I didn’t understand the power that this collection of wires and magnets could bring. Until that morning.
I promised myself that I will always use this as a force for good.
I shared this with Helen who writes, “You’re an advocacy Angel Cliff! What great news, keep spreading and sharing to connect more kindred spirits, we know they’re out there!!”
Connecting two kind-hearted people. One who is having a real impact on the community. The other who impacts the impacters.