Today I posted on Facebook that I had a bit of an existential crisis this morning. Or at least in part. It’d been building up for a while now. Those who know me or who’ve followed me on social media for a couple of years know the issue of youth homelessness—especially LGBTQ youth—is near and dear to my heart. It’s why I asked my publisher, Less Than Three Press, to help me organize the Project Fierce anthology, which was a collection of stories about homeless LGBTQ youth meant to raise money for the charity, Project Fierce Chicago.
I regularly donate to Project Fierce and another Chicago-area homeless charity, The Night Ministry. They’re LGBTQ friendly and in addition to their other shelters, they even have a dedicated overnight shelter for LGBTQ youth called The Crib. I was looking at their website the other day, searching for volunteer opportunities or what their clients might need most. I wanted to do something that felt more immediate and tangible than donating cash. I printed out some of their paperwork to look it over.
Then today I started thinking about them again. I looked at the paperwork, and for a moment I felt so overwhelmed. Like, what can I do? I might be able to donate a few things, but these people need real help. In the shower I got sad. I felt useless and just…small. Inconsequential. But then I bucked up and told myself, “It doesn’t matter. Do something. You’ll feel better.”
So I went to the store and spent a couple of hundred dollars on their wish list items. I came home and put together a dozen hygiene kits containing shampoo, conditioner, soap, a wash cloth, and other toiletries. I bought some diapers, wipes, socks, and six big bags of trail mix so I could separate them into a couple dozen 1-cup bags as they requested.
I’ll be driving to The Night Ministry’s admin office to drop all this off tomorrow morning. I know some of you might be thinking, “If you wanted to donate to The Night Ministry, why didn’t you just do it quietly? Get over yourself.” And if you’re thinking it, there’s not much I can say to make you think differently, but for the record, I’m not sharing this to brag about how special and generous I am. No. I’m sharing this in the hope that someone else out there might see it be inspired to do the same. Because I realized something this morning: small things matter. Sure, I might wish I had a few million to spare so I could build some shelters and keep them stocked with essentials at all times. But just because you can’t do something huge doesn’t mean what you can contribute doesn’t have value. Sometimes the tiniest act of kindness can have a tremendous impact.
So if you have a local shelter you regularly contribute to, and you’re able, consider dropping off a box of the supplies they need most. I know how it feels to be bogged down by thoughts of “I can only afford to give so much. Will it even make a difference?” Yes, it will. To the person who has supplies to shower tomorrow because of your donation, it matters. To the person whose stomach is growling, that trail mix might not ease it much, but it helps. It’s something.
We can’t all do big things. We don’t all have the means. But small acts matter. It was a lesson I needed to learn.
Hey, all! My reading picked up a bit in February. Right now I’m sitting at 26 books for the year (and 18 of those were last month). These were my favorite reads from February. Sharing the love. ♥
In no particular order…
How to Howl at the Moon by Eli Easton – This was a sweet, funny, adorable read and absolutely perfect for my down mood lately. I really enjoyed it and recommend it, if you’re a fan of cute and fluff, which I most assuredly am. And I’m very happy to know there’ll be a story for Roman later this year!
Bayou des Enfants (Rougaroux Social Club, #4) by Lynn Lorenz – I’m a big fan of this series but hadn’t gotten around to reading this offering until last month. Scott and Ted are probably my favorite couple in this series, so I was really glad to revisit them and to see their family completed — even if it wasn’t exactly when or how they planned. Recommended for fans of the series. I don’t think it would stand well on its own, though, so if you haven’t read any of the previous books, I’d recommend starting at the beginning.
Here Without You by Mia Kerick – This was the followup to Kerick’s YA novel, Us Three. The boys are older and two of them are trying to navigate their first year of college while the other stays behind in their hometown to protect his sister from their guardian, their abusive uncle. Things get pretty angsty toward the end there, but I was thrilled to see these guys a bit older and to see how their relationship had progressed. If you enjoyed the first book, I definitely recommend reading this one too.
Checking Out Love by R. Cooper – This was probably my favorite read of the month. Everything about it just worked so well for me. It was short, funny, charming, and features a nerdy librarian and an equally nerdy college student with no brain-to-mouth filter. For me, it was perfect. I gushed about it all over my social media accounts the day I read it. Awesome stuff.
Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts by Lyn Gala – This was a lot of fun. Ondry, the alien in this story, is just fantastic in the way he wants to protect and tries to understand Liam, despite the differences in their cultures. I really enjoyed the story.
Taxes and TARDIS by N.R. Walker – I’m not sure why it took me so long to read this story. It matches up a blue-collar guy with a geeky accountant, and really, anyone who knows me is aware that this type of story is right up my alley. This was really cute, and I know I’ll likely read it again.
And for a non-M/M story that still fits under the GLBTQ umbrella…
Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff – You would think that this book wouldn’t work for me. It’s a love story, but it’s told in 2nd person POV and you never know the gender of either the protagonist or the love interest. And yet… it was really beautiful.
I think the issue of Kid’s homelessness was glossed over a bit in terms of how difficult that reality would be, but I still appreciated that the author was trying to bring attention to the disproportionate amount of LGBTQ homeless youth out there. It’s said by Kid’s father that Kid “can’t decide to be straight or gay or a boy or a girl,” so I definitely do count Kid as falling under the LGBTQ acronym, even if we never know if Kid’s relationship with Scout is same-sex or otherwise. Some readers complained that not knowing removed their ability to connect with the characters, but that didn’t bother me at all. Maybe because I can relate to gender identity issues and not knowing or not wanting to claim any specific label.
A gorgeous book, and a love song to Brooklyn too.
So, what did you read last month? Any standouts? I’m always looking for recs, so feel free to comment!