“Courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”
~ Brené Brown
A lot of courage was displayed at ANEW Story Night held on May 12th. It was a beautiful evening bringing the community together to celebrate brave and inspiring stories of struggle and stories of success.
While we took a risk in revamping our annual fundraiser from our traditional seated gala dinner, ANEW Story Night was an event that was very authentic to who we are as an organization. Since ANEW Place is built upon the stories of our guests, it was quite fitting that the entire event centered on the stories of our guests told in a beautiful atmosphere.
Our hope was that at the end of the evening, everyone who attended would walk away feeling as though they personally entered into our guests’ stories –
stories about real people who are still in process whose stories are not done yet.
We wanted to give our community the opportunity to enter into the struggles, the trials, the pain as well as enter into the hope, the recovery, the steps toward success for each of our guests.
Stories were vulnerably and beautifully shared by our volunteers, staff, community partners, board members, and even our guests. Stories ranged from our volunteers sharing about how their lives have been forever changed through their consistent weekly evenings hanging out with our guests at the shelter to our community partners sharing about how vital the work that ANEW is doing is to our community.
Every heart in the room was impacted by the journeys of our guests.
Some of the things we learned from the stories is that restoration is messy and transformation takes time.
We learned that when you let yourself get close to someone’s story, when you truly enter in, you get to see firsthand the hope that rises from the ashes.
We learned that when God heals, He doesn’t disregard our past, He builds hope right out of the old ruins. We learned that while charity may be offering a meal, a hand, a warm coat, a bed, justice is offering a way out.
Justice is valuing the story of yesterday and saying it doesn’t have to look that way tomorrow.
We learned that not everyone follows an upward linear storyline and in fact, most storylines rise and plunge as they move forward. We learned the value of investing in brokenness and declaring the value of someone whose story has been marred by failure. We learned that when you come alongside someone who is struggling, it doesn’t just affect one life or one story but you are changing your community and yourself in the process.
At ANEW Place, we aren’t as concerned about the non-linear storylines.
When we focus on the root issues, we aren’t threatened by the symptoms. We are after a deeper transformation. And the stories that were shared at ANEW Story Night were all about this deeper transformation.
At ANEW, we are rebuilding beauty and rewriting futures one person at a time.
One of our wonderful community partners, Matt Beer with 150 Cherry Street Inc., operators of New Moon Café, shared about the importance of investment in our community. He said that each person is in a unique situation and is stewarding a unique set of resources. This diversity is one of the gifts of a community. He went on to say that our hearts become connected to the things that we invest our resources in, meaning that the things that we choose to invest in (a relationship, a hobby, an activity, an item) are important to us because of the investment we have made in them (time, energy, finances, resources, etc.)
Everyone left the event feeling as though they were a part of a bigger story we are writing together. Whether they become a monthly donor (a StoryShaper), a meal provider, an evening volunteer, or a social media and community advocate, each investment choice is a heart-level, justice-oriented investment in every single story.
Because every story matters.
More Photos from ANEW Story Night