Over the recent holiday break, our family sat down to enjoy one of the new Disney Pixar movies, “Soul.” On the surface, our kids enjoyed the things kids enjoy – a new and unfamiliar world filled with some funny (and some scary) characters, goofy scenes with pet cats, and some really relaxing and enjoyable music. But as I watched, I caught some deeper themes playing just under the smooth jazz flowing from the main character, Joe Gardner’s new quartet. The more I read about the movie afterward, the more I came to realize that “Soul” was reminding us of the power we all have to control our lives – to find, as they discuss in the movie, our own “spark.” And it does not take some transcendent moment of success to confirm we are living – instead, it’s the little things that should make us feel alive.
When I look at what The Breathing Room Foundation was able to accomplish in a most difficult 2020, I see thousands of tiny “sparks:” 1,186 families referred, 404 recipients of our comfort program, 227 recipients of assistance in the form of paid medical bills, prescriptions, nutritional supplements, and medical equipment and supplies. I see a “Breaking Barriers” program that provided transportation services to 345 people and gas cards to 42 more. I see utility bills and rent paid, clothing donated, home improvements made, appliances provided, and food and necessities delivered. I see our lifeblood in the form of the countless and dedicated volunteers who, along with our AMAZING staff, found creative and ever-changing ways to support our families. I see a vast array of donors, sponsors, and individual contributors who overwhelmed us with financial support, in very trying times, to keep these services flowing. I see an engaged and dynamic Board, brimming with passion for the mission and unparalleled motivation to ensure the Foundation will thrive for decades to come.
Looking down on society, one of the characters in Soul, named 22, tells Joe, “Can’t crush a soul here. That’s what life on earth is for.” 2020 certainly felt that way. It was a year filled with so much turbulence, uncertainty, and pain, where it was so easy to give in, give up, and stop believing. But when I start to feel those negative energies creeping in, I read some of the letters sent by families who received our support. They are the people who so desperately needed that breathing room, now more than ever. And I cannot help but think about the little life moments from “Soul” that we so often take for granted – a breath of air, a warm home cooked meal with family, the laughter of friends. And how essential it is for all of us to stop and take that breath, to remember what is important, and to continue to help others in any way we can.
So I thank all of you who have helped, in any way you could, and encourage you to continue your passionate support of The Breathing Room’s mission. Volunteer for a delivery, drop off gift cards, get friends, colleagues, and other family members involved. And most importantly, spread the word. Because when we find that “spark,” anything is possible.
On behalf of the Board of The Breathing Room,
Best wishes for a safe and healthy 2021,