A few years back, I received the news that Brian Thomas, a friend from my childhood, was diagnosed with Stage IV Melanoma. Everyone was in shock and looking for ways to pitch in and help. Cancer is ugly, but it's also an expensive beast to fight. I thought, "What if I had an open house at my projects and asked for a $5 donation to go to Brian?"
Our first open house was at the 4th Street house in Minneapolis. There was a horrific snowstorm and I worried, "No one will show." Imagine my delight when, an hour before the official start time, the line was already around the block. I stood outside for 4 hours taking money and saying thank you.
My friends volunteered inside, and we knew we were onto something great. Everyone gladly donated, and most people gave a lot more than a five dollar bill. Since that open house, we have done the same thing at every house for different families. I'm so proud that through this "idea," we have helped ease the financial burden for these friends. Brian, who was told he had maybe a month or two to live, is now going strong and went on to form his own foundation to help children with cancer.
Our open houses are now absolutely off the charts. Tessa, pictured above, captured my heart, and our last open house was in her honor. Fans from all over the country flew in and waited in line for up to 5 hours! Over 4000 people came through---and not one complaint.
Be sure to mark your calendar for the next one...I promise, it is a a huge testament to the power of kindness. You will have the time of your life, and I recommend bringing a cooler and lawn chairs. With each open house, we have two lines: one for the elderly, the disabled and small children and another for everyone else. If God has blessed you with good health and legs, you get the long line :)