The traveling experienced that changed my life forever happened in spring of 2012. I signed up to go on the Pay It Forward Tour. Note, that when I decided to embark on this journey I had no idea what so ever what the Pay It Forward Tour was, I just knew that I wanted to FINALLY do something that I had never did before, and that was leave the state of Mississippi for the very first time.
I was able to visit Birmingham, AL where I helped start a community garden. The garden would provide some source of hope for the recovering town that had experienced multiple tornados come through and destroy their city. That job was by far the hardest and dirtiest job we had to do because the land was covered in tall weeds and trees when we arrived. I felt so accomplished when I saw our finished product of rows ready for seeds to be planted in them. I was also able to visit a city that I had always wanted to visit, Atlanta, GA. While there, we went to a local school that the state would be closing the following year. We went into vacant classrooms, and cleaned out the heavily stacked closets, shelves, and packed up everything that was of value. It was a really sad thing to do, but the children brought back that joy when they came out for recess, and we were allowed to play, hang out, and get to know them. After leaving the school, we loaded the bus once more, and headed to Greenville, SC. That night we sang our little hearts out to the residents of one of the best nursing homes, that I personally had ever visited. The best part about the nursing home stop was that the residents didn’t even care that we sounded HORRIBLE! They just really enjoyed the time we spent with them. After getting a good night’s rest, we headed to our final destination, Charlotte, NC. I became a volunteer worker at a Good Will for three hours where I hung up clothes on hangers. Shockingly, the best part about working there was not doing the work, but hanging out in the break room singing. I guess we were still on a high from the previous night.
The experienced for me just didn’t come from doing the community service and visting the different states. It came from staying in churches, YMCA’s, gyms and on the last night a five star hotel. It came from not being able to shower every night. It came from singing from state-to-state with my closet friends and schoolmates. It came from eating out at a fast food restaurant every single night. It came from meeting together as a group to chat, cheer, and even get to know the person beside us a little bit better. It came from taking two college tours. It came from spending seven hours in downtown Charlotte, NC to do whatever we desired, and our pockets allowed us to do. It even came from the bus breaking down for 4 hours on our journey back home. Words cannot explain how amazing that trip was. I was able to do so many things that I could have only dreamed about doing before spring 2012. It was so amazing that I just had to do it again in the summer of 2012 with a whole new group of people and four whole new states. I will continue to Pay It Forward, one state at a time.
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