I Am Waters

Today is 04.08.2020

Houston – 2010

There are three kinds of love; Eros, Philos and Agape. The latter I have been steeped in from all conceivable angles since launching I Am Waters summer pilot project.

A couple of weeks before our delivery started we ran notifications and ads on Facebook for volunteers to assist in delivering water to our partner shelters over the summer. I was certain we’d be “flush” with high school and college kids fresh out of school, I was wrong. Instead we have been graced with the helping hands of some of Houston’s “Best and Brightest”; Moms, professionals and philanthropist, all of whom I hold in very high regard.

I once read that unless the heart of the giver is involved in the giving, the giving doesn’t count. This sentence went through my mind as I watched Maria and Neil Bush drive their Excursion through a space so small, an error in either direction would have resulted in a major loss of car paint. They pulled it off with heart, focus and determination. Beautiful Maria Bush loaded heavy cases of water for SEARCH homeless, in sweltering heat and humidity with a smile on her face and excitement in her step! Debbie Pakzaban not only makes her weekly I Am Waters deliveries to Palmer Way Station, she has since gone above and beyond the “call” extending herself as a purveyor of other needed shelter items.

Then we have tenacious Olivia Izquierdo who showed up for the first of many deliveries with a cast on her leg, making her deliveries in 85 degree heat and 90% humidity! These are but a few of the people who have embraced and supported I Am Waters summer delivery with LOVE (Philos and Agape) and grace, delivering water to Houston’s most needy and desperate population; the homeless, not any homeless, but America’s homeless.

Diana Erani from Health Care for the homeless said receiving a weekly delivery of IAW bottles with a word of inspiration on the bottle was like receiving a “Hydrating Hug”

Click To View The Behind The Scenes Slideshow

Another fellow said that he walks around “feeling old and ugly” and as he admired his portrait he smiled a big smile and said, “I look young and handsome

In addition to delivering water, we have continued our photographic campaign, in order to continue bringing a face to who the homeless are; they are individuals, children, babies, woman, men and whole families. We photograph them, make prints and return the photos to their respective owners. Everyone has a different story; one man had not had his picture taken since he was a baby, one 33 year old woman hadn’t had her photo taken since she was 13 and another gentleman in particular examined his returned photo and shared with us through his tears “the last time I had my picture taken was on my 16th birthday, which was also Mother’s Day. We made and kept our promise to mail a copy of his photo to his mom whom he had not seen in many years. Another fellow said that he walks around “feeling old and ugly” and as he admired his portrait he smiled a big smile and said, “I look young and handsome”

One of the people we photographed was very ill the day we photographed him , upon returning to the shelter the next week to deliver the prints, one of the staff members notified us that they didn’t believe he would live through the day and had been asking repeatedly to see his picture before he passed.

The emotions we’ve seen expressed by photographing and returning the photographs to the homeless individual is remarkable. We’ve witnessed a withdrawn dejected individual open up and blossom in a matter of seconds by taking the time to connect, notice them, shake their hand, photograph them and be true to our words by returning their portrait.

The spectrum of emotions has ranged from child like giggles, laughter of pride, tears of unhealed memories and wounds, to whole body hugs and words of praise and gratitude for allowing the person to see themselves from another perspective. A photograph that endows them with self esteem and/or opens the door to a part of themselves that’s in need of spiritual and emotional acknowledgment . They too are human beings, children of God, and citizens of this great nation that we all belong to and love.

House of Tiny Treasures

As our IAW team exits SEARCH Homeless Shelter from one of our weekly shoots, I am graced by the words of a woman that I’ve grown very fond of, she sits at the front desk answering the phone and questions of the needy throughout the day at SEARCH homeless. We never depart without exchanging a standing farewell, mine is a smile, a wave, and a knowing look to a friend. Hers—smiling eyes, a warm, open heart and words that have become music to my ears,”Byyyye wattta ladyyy!!”