Thank you for being here, and thank you for your interest in The Road Home. I know how valuable your time is, and we are grateful that you would spent an hour with us this morning.
I have been asked to try and answer two questions that I commonly get: How was I introduced to The Road Home? And why do I support and give to The Road Home?
Many years ago, my friend and neighbor, Ray Whitney, took my young family on a tour of Candy Cane Corner – a joint effort with Volunteers of America and the YWCA to help families with presents at Christmastime. That effort to help children at Christmas while supporting the human dignity of their parents touched me deeply. My family started, in our own small way, to contribute some presents annually. A couple years later, my family was in Wal-Mart buying some presents for that year’s effort at Candy Cane Corner. I looked over, and saw my 6 year old son crying. I walked over, put my arm around him, and quietly asked about the problem. He looked up at me and simply said, “I wish I could do more.” I knew instantly that he did not have the capacity to do more at that point, but that I did. As I walked through Wal-Mart with my arm around my son, I resolved that I would do whatever I could to help those less fortunate than me. I felt like I owed it to them, and I felt like I owed it to my son. What I have learned in the years since then is that I owed it to myself. My life has been richly blessed because of my association with The Road Home and my association with many of you.
However, there is another reason that I give. It is fitting that this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, because I also give to The Road Home to express love and gratitude for three incredible women who have blessed my life.
The first, is my mom. When I think of the home that I grew up in, I don’t think about the house itself. Instead, it is the environment that I remember, and comes to mind when I hear the word home. My mother is responsible for allowing me to grow up in a home where I felt safe and protected, where I was encouraged to learn and grow, where forgiveness was quickly given when I made mistakes, and where I felt complete, unconditional love.
Over the years, as I’ve helped many families shop for Christmas presents at Candy Cane corner, I’ve learned that all parents want what’s best for their children, and that all kids deserve to have and to feel the same things that I felt. That’s why I’m so passionate about supporting The Road Home.
We all face moments of darkness in our lives. They can be brought on by many things – health challenges, personal loss, loneliness, financial reversals, and many more. While I have felt the sunshine on my face more days that I deserve, I have not been immune to periods of darkness. However, I have been blessed to always have a place where I belonged – I’ve always had a home.
Likewise, my mother-in-law created a similar environment where my wife grew up. Despite moving frequently, including stops in Korea and Germany, my wife enjoyed a consistent environment of support and love even though her surroundings changed. I’m grateful that none of the usual mother-in-law jokes apply in my case.
Finally, my wife, Katie, creates a similar environment in our home for our children. We promised that we would travel through the valleys and ascend the peaks of this life together. She is the love of my life, and I am grateful for her.
So, I give to The Road Home to express gratitude and love for these three incredible women. And I give to The Road Home because a little boy wanted to give more but didn’t have the capacity to do so.
I do not know the reasons that you give, but I’m confident they are as meaningful to you as mine are for me. And so, I encourage you to give what you can. Give to honor someone else, or give to be true too yourself and your good heart. As you give, know that your donations help families and individuals toward a brighter future along their road home.
Thank you for your time, and thank you for your generosity. Thank you very much.
- Speech given by Matt Willes at The Road Home’s 2015 One by One Breakfast