Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"An Unexpected Teacher" - Waddie Welcome and the Beloved Community

I had the opportunity tonight to hear the story of Waddie Welcome. Mr. Welcome, a native of Savannah, Georgia, changed the world during his 80-odd years. Born with cerebral palsey and almost written off but for the compassion and determination of some amazing people and a great organization, Chatham-Savannah Citizen Advocacy, Mr. Welcome managed to capture the hearts of an entire community. Though I never knew Mr. Welcome, I can say for certain that his story is a powerful one and one that I will not soon forget. His story makes us question how we treat people different from ourselves. Are we not all human beings living in the same world?

The event was put on by Chatham-Savannah Citizen Advocacy. "Citizen advocacy is built on one-to-one, freely-given personal relationships between two people. One is a person with a disability who has been excluded from typical community life and the other is a person living a good, ordinary life here in our community. Friendship, spokesmanship, social support, and social change can all emerge from these intentional relationships." I encourage you to visit their website at www.SavannahCitizenAdvocacy.org and think about how you can help to make a difference.

On a side note: Mr. Welcome had a dear friend and champion in a woman named Addie Reeves. Known for her hospitality, graciousness and good home cooking, Ms. Reeves also had a whit about her. In her obituary, marking her death at age 100, were written some of her thoughts on life. My favorite is this: "I don't believe in style. If you want to be beautiful, Serve God."

My how much we can learn if we just pay attention to those around us and care long enough to stop and have a conversation, hear a story, or just observe this miraculous world we live in.

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