I Change Lives

“I Change Lives” is a bold statement to make, and to wear on your shirt for all to see. I recently had an updated photo taken (thanks to ACO Volunteer and Professional Photographer, Eleanor Michal) and I am wearing those words. All of the ACO Staff wear those words. We also live by those words in our jobs every day. Our mission is to change lives.

But how does ACO change lives?

-An out of work family in the drive thru line at the ACO Food Pantry has a trunk full of groceries loaded into their car by volunteers, and now they have enough food to feed their children. That’s life changing.

-The final utility connection notice comes in the mail and there’s no money to pay the bill. It’s January and the forecast is freezing temperatures for the next few days. ACO pays the bill to make sure that mom and her kids will sleep in a warm house for another month while she gets caught up on all of her bills. That’s life changing for another family.

-Years of struggles to support his family in low paying jobs have created a huge debt and financial crisis for a young father. ACO offered counseling for employment, help with a resume and interview skills, and assistance in finding a better paying job. Six months later, he’s received a certification that leads to a skilled position with benefits and a sustaining salary. A year later, he’s out of debt and just purchased his first home for his family. ACO changed his life.

OK, now the real truth…

We are not really changing lives on our own, but are coordinating the efforts to help those families who are desperate and have nowhere to turn. It’s all YOU! You are the ones who are really changing lives.

Your donations and financial gifts to ACO make it possible for our staff to carry out our mission every day. Your volunteer hours keep our programs and services operating smoothly. Your sponsorships and participation in events like the upcoming ACO Charity Golf Classic are changing lives with those funds to help local families. Your likes and positive comments on social media to highlight ACO are changing lives by exposing our mission to the community. The extra bag of groceries that you drop off at the ACO Food Pantry or at a local food drive is changing lives for hungry kids. So are the gifts of new toys you donate at Christmastime for a child, or the school supplies you donate for students to start school with new things. The giving spirit you exhibit to your children, your coworkers, and friends to inspire them to help others is changing lives! I could go on…but you understand.

One more thing…

In tears, a woman said to me “You’ve changed our lives.” She pulled me aside on the sidewalk in front of the ACO office when she saw my shirt. She explained that she’d been coming to ACO for years, with her mother when she was a child and now as a teen mom herself.

She said thanks to ACO they always had food at home and clothes to wear when she was growing up but it was hard. But she wanted something better for her kids and ACO had helped her get her GED diploma. “I’m working now, can afford our apartment and learned to budget money. I’m going to make it! You’ve changed our lives.”

I thought to myself as she left, “no, actually she changed my life with her words, with her gratitude and with her determination to find a path for her family to stability.” I think about her often, and those many families like her that we help each day to change their own lives.

I wear those three words and the ACO logo proudly. You and I, we DO change lives! Thank you for making it possible with your generosity and support.



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