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Project 50/50: The Beginning

 Spare Change News (USA) 07 January 2019

Homeless at 24, with a college degree and a lucrative career in marketing behind her, Shay Kelley had had enough of chasing the almighty dollar. She came up with project 50/50, a plan to spend one week helping homeless people in every one of the 50 US stateS. In the third installement of this series she describes how, along with her dog Zuzu and a blue pickup truck, she set out to capture America’s hopes and dreams. (755 Words) - By Shay Kelley

50/50

Shay Kelley. Photo courtesy of Spare Change News

On the first day of the New Year in 2010, I climbed up into an old pickup truck that I named Bubba, with my dog Zuzu in the passenger seat. I began a mission to spend one week in every US state helping the poor and hungry who live on our American streets. I was in the midst of my own homelessness, and I was already living in Bubba, so taking an idea across the country seemed like the only thing to do. I documented this journey with a camera and a journal, and along the way I began a nonprofit organization that provides loving assistance to the hurting people of this nation. This Project 50/50 was completed just a week before Christmas, on December 18th, in the 50th state of Hawaii. The 'story' of this journey is almost unimaginable. The struggle, the suffering, and the triumph are almost immeasurable. Success always comes at a high price.

I knew that my greatest struggle would be in the silence. On the long, open roads for 12 months, I knew that I would cry. Now, I know the way that loneliness happens even when people are everywhere. I know that I can feel alone on a crowded street. Weeks went by, and the only human contact was a friendly handshake. I desperately wanted to talk to someone who knew my name before saying hello. I wanted to see someone who had known me for more than 24 hours. But I knew what the Project required, and I knew the sacrifice that God had asked from me…

What I didn't know, was that by the time the Project was complete, I would be married to the man of my dreams. Every time I try to write the story of our romance, it sounds like a fairy tale, and in most ways, that's exactly what it is. Our first date was in Alaska. He surprised me in Niagara Falls, New York with a ring and a question. We tied it all together with a beautiful but simple Hawaiian wedding in the 50th state, during the last few days of the Project. It's perfect, but it hasn't been easy.

I've known Shane Patrick for six years, but we had only seen each other four times this year before getting married. I had been single for two years and I've been alone on the road for a long time. The idea of letting someone into my 'bubble' is terrifying. Long distance was hard, and we had a lot to learn. But from the moment that we bumped into each other in the eighth state of Oklahoma, I knew  that Shane was it. He loves me the way God does, and he brings this Project to new heights. The words 'settle down' are nowhere near our future. There is still too much to give, and much more work to be done. We will move forward with God at the center of our lives and our marriage, despite the challenges that may lie ahead.

It's been only two weeks since the Project was completed. I'm still adjusting to my new life as a wife, and what it means to be a partner. Compromise and constant communication with another person were not a part of my previous routine. Sharing the love has been a priority for a long time, but sharing decisions was not. This is going to stretch and grow me into a better version of myself than I've ever known, but not without a little pain.

When I began, I knew I would be lonely. As I worked through the pain, I knew that God had a plan. As I fell in love, I knew that God still needed my heart. As I made a commitment, I knew that my promise to God came first. And as I got married, I knew that God had blessed us both. Now, I know that this project is only the beginning.

Originally published by Spare Change News © www.streetnewsservice.org

 

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