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Letter from Member

We receive emails from our members on a regular basis, and periodically ask permission to share the mail with our supporters. Susanne Johnson Susanne Johnson, a Charter Member of REBSEA gave us permission to share the heartwarming email she sent to us.

Thanks for helping me get set up. I just finished reading every single profile of the members, and wow, I'm honored to be a part of this network of truly amazing people. 
I've sent a link to my team (which right now consists of two other agents), and told them I just joined, and thought it would be cool if we could all make this a part of our team mission. Regardless, I'm on board. 
My contributions in the past have been more in volunteering my time for various causes. I would say my passions are on the health of communities, but there are so many areas that fall into this. 
I've volunteered with TopBox foods distributing affordable food packages at church. The church I attend is on the south side of Chicago, which is considered a food desert. Top Box offers boxes of restaurant quality food at very affordable prices, and they donate 5% of the proceeds to food banks, etc. I believe everyone deserves access to nutritious food. 
I've also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity on a build day on a home on the south side of Chicago.
One NPO, I've become very interested in is Project H.O.O.D, which was started by a Pastor of a church on the south side, to build a community center to address many of the social ills affecting at risk teens and young adults, by teaching new skills, conflict resolution, spiritual growth, and helping to create jobs, in an effort to end violence. This Pastor walked from Times Square to the Staples Center in the summer of 2012, and many of us joined him in a 10+ mile walk from the grounds where the community center will be built to Navy Pier in an effort to raise money. I would say that was definitely a moment of clarity, in when the passion and purpose is bigger than yourself, you will do whatever it takes to make something happen. At first, the walk didn't seem so bad, although it was very hot. The first mile seemed like a piece of cake, but by the time I got to the third mile, I was sore, and it just got worse, I was all swollen from the heat, swea
t dripping into my eyes, and my out of shape body was aching all over, that's when I realized his commitment to making this community center a reality. As much as I wanted to stop or give up, I kept thinking that if he could walk 30 miles/day, I could do a third of that to support his cause. Talk about praying and faith to help you through something. 
Growing up in a middle class suburb, I was never really aware of the true disparity in many parts of the city, especially on the south side of Chicago, until I started attending that church.
I help the homeless whenever I can, whether it's buying or cooking them a meal, or giving them some money to buy food, or even giving them a smile and acknowledging them. 
There's one man who lives on the streets nearby, who I've had the pleasure of meeting. His name is Mr Curtis Jackson, and he has a beautiful soul. My mom and I are always stopping to give him food whenever we see him and he is always so thankful. One day I asked his name, and on Christmas night last year, my family was out for the evening, so I decided to visit Mr Curtis with some food and hot chocolate. I sat down on the ground with him in the freezing cold and we talked for over an hour. I did ask how he got to where he was, and he told me how he used to work in a mom and pop record store, and he loved helping people pick out music. Then the Internet came along and record stores pretty much became obsolete, and pretty much fell on tough times. He did drugs for a while, but has been clean for over 20 years now. He told me he was right where God wanted him to be and had no complaints, he helps people whenever he can. He will talk to the drug addicts who are out on the street with him, and have inspired some to even get help and go to rehab. One young lady, who was always nice to him, lost her home (she has a young son) and was living out of her van and the police told her her child would be taken
away if she didn't find some shelter. Mr Curtis gave her all the money he collected from pan handling to get her a hotel room, so she would have a safe place for her son to sleep. Now, she has a new job and place to stay, and he watches her son when she leaves for work and walks him to school and picks him up after school and stay with him at the library until she gets home from work. It's strange how you think you're going to be a blessing to someone else, and they turn out to be a blessing to you. 

Again, thank you for reaching out to me, I appreciate you and looking forward to getting to know everyone. It's a good reminder of why I do what I do. I love helping people. And it's a good reminder to me that when I do things with passion and a purpose, everything else will follow. 


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