In mid January 2011, my wife and I got an idea to attempt to assist folks cornered with limited resources apart from families to reconnect in a real way with loved ones by the upcoming Valentine’s Day.
We informed family and friends of our desire and requested letter materials, clip boards, and a battery powered camping lantern. In the last weekend in January before church at first light, we launched with an old camping table, two lawn chairs, and our donated letter materials in a $5.00 plastic tub and hit the street.
One of the first folks who clarified that we weren’t just serving coffee said, “Wow!” stepped back from the table, drew a breath, and stated that, ” What you are doing almost brings tears to my eyes.”
“Because prior to getting my addiction under control, I had been out of contact with my family back home in N.Y. for a period of ten years.”
He said, “I had forced my family for that ten year period to search websites posting faces of John Does found in the city.”
At that point, we changed our goal of a few Valentine’s cards back home, to four weeks of letters out. During that four week period, we thought what if we help other folks launch projects in their own communities of Free Letters Home. We felt we could seed this idea by having a rubber stamp made directing receipts of cards and letters to a website with helpful tips and information.