I first met Micheal Jason Allen when my daughter and I signed up to be extras on a movie set. My best friend Yousef Kazemi wrote and was directing a movie called The Stand-in. Follow its progress here.
He was a well-dressed man (because we were in the wedding party) with a bowtie and a big beard telling us dad jokes. He had a wonderfully warm smile and was a joy to meet. Since then I have learned more about community volunteering from him than anyone else in my nearly 50 years of life.
I hope you check out all the organizations he has listed. There are communities just like Oklahoma City’s all across the country… all over the world. I hope you look them up and donate or share their efforts. They are ran by compassionate and loving people who care about overwhelming a world that is drowning in hate with as much love as they can muster.
So let’s be real for a few and welcome Michael.
Hasty asked me why I help with homelessness. I struggled to find a good answer. There are so many things motivating my need to help. Besides having my own personal experiences, I have absorbed and internalized many of the stories my friends have shared with me. Being a veteran, it is also near and dear to my heart because many vets have been thrown to the wayside and forgotten.
For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to help people. I remember going to church and being fascinated by missionary work. Much of my family believed I would go into missionary work when I got older. Well, as life goes, that didn’t happen. I still had the passion but found my way away from the church while still abiding by a lot of morals and principles they held.
I found myself very curious about the homeless. Why were people homeless? I had no clue. So I built my own thoughts based off movies and word of mouth. I ended up having empathy because movies seemed to demonize homeless as lesser. I remember the sadness I felt when I realized this.
My momma used to tell me a story, I don’t personally remember, when we were in Tennessee. I asked if we could order an extra meal for the homeless man outside. Sadly, we couldn’t because we were on a strict budget. The story has resonated in my head every since she told it to me.
As I got older, I was able to make more educated decisions and do more of what I believed versus what I was told was truth. Of course, I started challenging authority. I kept getting into trouble and was headed down a pretty bad path. I ran away from home multiple times and spent many of nights trying to find a place to stay. I would stay in drug dealer’s homes, abandoned homes, or if it was a nice night I would just go to my favorite park. It was these moments I would often reminisce about my preconceived notions on homelessness.
One day it just slapped me across the face and realized I needed to get my shit together. I was tired of running and I was only 15. Even after I could drive I still chose a life that wasn’t on a great path. I imagine momma was at her wits end with me. Then I met a girl and at the age of 17 my first child was born. I was a dad. I had responsibility. I had to get my shit together for real this time. He needed a dad and something constant in his life.
I enlisted in the Air Force, not only out of a love for my country, but to help support my family and give them all the opportunity to succeed. By the time I was 22 I had 3 children. My mind-frame shifted to being a dad. I had to be their example. It wasn’t all great but it wasn’t all bad either. I value my children, their words, their thoughts, their insatiable appetite for knowledge. So, although not always perfect, I did try to lead by example.
My middle child, told me a story I had forgotten. He recently moved to Denver and I went to visit. It was a nice little break as we just chilled and ate good food. He reminded me of when we went to see The St. Louis Rams. Sam Bradford’s rookie year. I always tried to spend time and do something special for each child before I deployed. I can’t remember where I was going but we had just watched the game and was headed home. We took the train back to the hotel and were sitting down close to one of the last stops. This gentleman sits down next to us and starts up sports chatter. We chat for quite a while and finally made it to our stop. The same gentleman gets off the train with us. As we were saying our goodbyes the man calls back to me asking for some money to get some food. I said that all I had was the quarters in my pocket which I gave him. I didn’t think anything about it other than there was someone that was in need. It’s not up to me to judge a man without knowing his story. I never actually said this to my son but that is what he got out of it. I was surprised that out of all the excitement that day that’s the story he chose to remember.
So that leads me to the present. My best friend and her dad would carry around bags of goodies for those in need and their generosity inspired me. I just had this aching need to help those that didn’t have the opportunities I had. This led me to Hotdogs for the Homeless. Every week, we deliver over 200 bags to the homeless. These bags have a hotdog, cookie packet, chips, water and condiment package all tucked into a decorated paper sack. It has become my Sunday morning church.
At approximately the same time I met the #yesloveokc team. Now I could write for days about them because I am now the President. But moreover, it led me to meet one of the most awe inspiring women I have ever met. She started Sox of Love and Laundry of Love. Now I will admit to just participating mostly in Laundry of Love. This gives folks that need assistance the opportunity to have clean laundry for their family. Something a lot of us take for granted. What an amazing concept. Call me naïve but I never thought about this being an issue. Socks were being thrown away because many had no access or money to wash their clothes. So now because of these organizations the opportunity exists for the homeless to have clean their laundry cleaned.
Just meeting these inspiring people and the founder of Free Mom Hugs made me want to do more. The founder of Free Mom Hugs said something to me that has really stuck. JUST SHOW UP! This led me to Sisu, a 15-22 homeless shelter, whom I volunteer with about 4-5 times a month. I finally starting to feel fulfilled but still have plenty of room left in my heart.
In conclusion, I feel like helping people has always been in my blood. My momma was and advocate and I had many other inspiring women in my life growing up. They taught me empathy, unconditional love, and the how to withstand the hard knocks. There is no manual for parents and we all have our baggage. None of us are perfect parents no matter what social media shows. We all hit walls. We all fall and we all fall on hard times. Some fall further than others but we all have the ability to fall just as far.
Ideally, just be good to people.
Give yourself reminders of how blessed you are. Most of us have seen rock bottom and even took a shovel to dig deeper. So I dig deep and make it a personal vendetta to help as many people as I can. Trust me, I am no martyr. I get just as much out of volunteering as those that need help. It is almost like I am making up for karma or something. Still trying to find that perfect yet impossible balance.
The great thing about volunteering is how it led me to so many wonderful people. I feel a part of an interconnected community in favor of helping rid the world of hate. All of us wanting to create a euphoria where love is universal and trumps any walls that hate may construct. For me the very bottom-line is #dontbeadick.
Michael Jason Allen will never claim to be a perfect parent or to have everything figured out. He believes in spending time with his kids. Letting them make their own mistakes. Empowering them. Encouraging them knowing they will fail now and then. His kids are completely rad and doing outstanding things.
When it comes to his community he knows it’s not all about him but he also knows what he does matters. He believes in just being there for people and doing what he can to help them succeed. #justshowup
You can find bits of the organizations he volunteers for in his personality. The smiles and the warmth aren’t just a façade they are embedded in the core of who he is.
“Laundry Love Oklahoma serves the OKC, Del City and Norman communities, providing free laundry for those needing help with this basic need.”
Phone: (405) 494-0005
“Sisu Youth is an OKC nonprofit utilizing the power of volunteerism to affect change in the lives of youth experiencing homelessness in our community.
Sisu Youth offers support and community connection to youth ages 15 to 24 who are experiencing homelessness in the Oklahoma City metro area.
Sisu Youth is excited to announce that we now offer overnight shelter to the youth we serve (15-22 yo) seven nights a week.
Call 405.459.SISU (7478) for more information or to reserve a bed.”
“Our mission is to Warm Hearts, Feet First because little things matter. We serve children & teens in foster care, homeless adults, the Elderly & Veterans.”
I had simple dream and I was bold enough to ask? I wonder what would happen?
I LOVE socks and I have grown especially sensitive to seeing homeless people during these cold days and nights. I drive downtown a lot handling business and my heart aches as I drive in my toasty warm car to my toasty warm house, where the first thing I do is put on a pair of cozy socks. I find myself waking up in the night thinking of the faces I passed, praying for them and hoping they found shelter and warmth.
My friends and family would help me gather NEW cotton socks for men and women (that is who I typically see on the streets) and I delivered them? Will it solve the problem? No, but I sure would love to know I helped a few people stay warm by offering them something I take for granted but adore.
WILL YOU HELP ME? WILL YOU DONATE A PAIR OR PACKAGE OF SOCKS? I will deliver them to individuals and organizations who accept them. Please, only new socks. That’s what I’d want, so that is what I am giving. I have the vision and I am releasing it into the atmosphere. I trust that God will align the universe to put the RIGHT people along to help manifest it.
If you’d like to help me help others please send your socks to:
PO BOX 720957
OKC, OK 73172
THANK YOU! MAY YOU BE BLESSED!
“#YesLoveOKC is more then just a statement, it is a movement, a lifestyle, a goal. To help promote love in a world where so much hate and hurt goes on.”
Phone: (405) 753-0885
“FREE MOM HUGS is all about Mom’s who love LGBTQ+ kids. We educate and advocate on behalf of our children and those who have been rejected or discriminated against.
We are a 501c3, non-profit, founded by author and accidental activist, Sara Cunningham.
Free Mom Hugs is a group of affirming parents and allies who love their LGBTQ+ kids unconditionally and take hugs of love and acceptance to others. Beyond the Hug, we provide emergency assistance to LGBTQ+ community members in need, help with legal name changes, support at same-sex weddings, notes of encouragement, and more. We are dedicated to educating families, church and civic leaders, and not only affirming the value of the LGBTQ+ community, but celebrating it.”
“Hotdogs for the Homeless was started as a way to reach out to the less fortunate by way of providing a weekly meal that many depend on. Alongside the meals often come socks, toothbrushes, and other supplies that are often seen as staples by the fortunate among us, but as luxuries by some below the poverty line.
There are many reasons people fall below the poverty line and into homelessness, ranging from mental disability to PTSD to simply falling on hard times. Hotdogs for the Homeless is a fantastic way to lend a helping hand to the less fortunate in a tangible, life impacting way. Whether they be unwed mothers, impoverished children, or the homeless: those who show up to benefit from these hotdog lunches feel the difference your support makes.”