A friend of mine recommended watching a recent movie called “Gimme Shelter”. The film stars Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser and Jams Earl Jones and was based on a true and inspiring story about a pregnant teen who escapes her abusive, drug-addicted mother and searches for her biological father, ending up in a shelter for pregnant women. There she learns about love and compassion and bonds with like minded woman from similar situations as the shelter becomes a safe haven place she can call home. The film touched me deeply and had a meaningful message about life. There is so much suffering in this world, and it is amazing to see that there are places that transform and help save lives through love, compassion and community support.
When I researched further about this movie I discovered the real place and people. The true inspiration behind the movie was Kathy DiFiore and her Several Sources Shelters in Ramsey, New Jersey. On my recent travels to New York City I decided to contact and visit one of the shelters. I was not sure what to expect or even if they allowed visitors? After all why would they accept me as a complete stranger? To my surprise they were very welcoming and what I witnessed was a special and unique place of selflessness, compassion, inspiration and hope against all odds. This is such a rare thing to find today in a world driven by the importance of things like “the selfie” and the social media generation where only the highlights of people’s lives are displayed.
There are unforgettable people you meet once in a lifetime. Those who choose to lead their lives differently. It is something about their energy and presence that just inspires you. Kathy DiFiore is one of such people. A selfless woman who has dedicated her life to helping countless others for the past thirty years.
I’ve had the pleasure and honor to meet this remarkable woman. Her story, her work, and her mission are a true inspiration for the world. Kathy dedicates her life to helping those in need by providing shelters for homeless, rejected and deprived women giving them hope and dignity. She walks the walk and talks the talk having to endure many of these struggles and challenges in her own life, being in abusive marriage and finding herself homeless until she turned it all around. As if a movie and running shelters was not enough to do, Kathy somehow has also found the time to write a book called , “Gimme Love.. Gimme Hope.. Gimme Shelter..” (the true inspiration behind the movie Gimme Shelter). She handed me a copy as I left.
Curious to know more about her I began to read and was immediately moved by one of her sayings “God writes straight in crooked lines”, meaning that people sometimes are exposed to pain and problems, but there is a reason for all, and in time they discover their life purpose because of those difficulties. Like many, Kathy endured many crooked lines in her life but soon found her purpose. She worked with Mother Teresa, changed state housing laws, opened Several Sources Shelters, was honored by President Ronald Reagan at the White House, and helped to rebuild and save many lives for woman and children…
When I first entered the house, there was this boy of about 2 years old, who kept saying, “Kathy, Kathy”, looking at Ms. DiFiore with so much love and devotion, I’ll never forget that image of this young little boy who just n a few words taught me about Kathy DiFiore, her mission, and her life.. So much love from just one child and then I realized that there were hundreds of such babies who have been here over the years who showed just as much of their unconditional love and devotion…Their photos were everywhere around the shelter. I was introduced to the true meaning of life, which was empowering.
I saw a statue of Jesus inside the shelter that Mother Teresa had given to Kathy. The statue had no hands, which sparked my curiosity to ask why? Kathy’s response was, “We have to become the hands to help people.” I thought that was powerful. It got me thinking about my own life and what was I doing with my “hands” to help others. Perhaps none of us truly do enough.
The story of inspiration begins with giving… And if you do it with open genuine heart, you will be amazed with the rewards and fulfillment that your life will give you.
I love studying successful and significant people in life but Kathy taught me about a different kind of success. One could say it is immeasurable to those whose lives it has changed, enhanced, and saved. On a table I noticed a book about angels. I picked it up and looked at it for a minute flipping through all these beautiful images of holy angels. Later, as I was leaving the shelter, I was thinking, Kathy DiFiore is definitely one of those holy angels that make this world a better place.