Change a Heart, Change a Life

What is the Change a Heart, Change a Life Campaign about?

Prior to moving to Birmingham, Alabama six years ago, I had never lived anywhere except Southern California.  One of the major “Meccas” of the US, not one person could tell me there was a better place to live.  Life has a funny way of teaching you lessons though and my small family of three and one dog had to leave our family and friends for a better life in the Heart of the Dixie.  Happily a stay a home mom, I was looking forward to tending to my child and husband and building a new life in the South.  The downside, I showed up on Alabama’s door step with preconceived notions of what this state and the people would be like.  I was isolated, sitting with my unnecessarily arrogant attitude.

As time went on, we bought a house, had another child, adopted another dog, and dealt with some of the strangest fish you would have ever encountered!  All the perceptions I came to Birmingham with began to fade away.  We made friends and explored the state from top to bottom.  This magical city gave me something I could never find in California; Internal peace.  It afforded me to begin living life through people rather than perceptions.  I stopped my vapid Los Angeles approach to anything that was out of my scope of experience, and learned to value all people as they are in this space and time.

My purpose in life has always been to help those that don't feel seen; that don't feel heard.  When I started California Country Organics, I knew it would allow me a platform to do just that.  The first year of being in business, I worked with other small businesses to highlight and uplift them.  Last year, I monetarily gave to Black women that were working hard, but needed a bit extra.  This is my third holiday season of being in business, and all good things happen in threes, so I KNEW this was the year to make the leap to really do some good! 

The Change a Heart, Change a Life Campaign is based on what Birmingham did for me.  This city changed my heart, my mind, and my life!  It’s time I give back to humbly say thank you for the life I have been afforded here and create positive change for the most disenfranchised and neglected.  Over the course of the next year, this campaign will be dedicated to raising money for five areas of the most vulnerable of Birmingham. 

  • The WellHouse: Helping rescue women and young girls that have been sex trafficked.
  • The Pink Topps: The first Black Breast Cancer Awareness Center in Alabama.
  • John AME Church: Serving a large population of Birmingham’s Trans community that have been neglected and mistreated.
  • Birmingham’s 20 “failing schools, including the Girl Spring Non-Profit Organization: Many of these children are poor and underprivileged and well underserved. Well Spring is an organization that uplifts artistic young woman to help them dream bigger than a wedding dress.
  • The Underserved Veterans of Birmingham: The homeless or those in need of mental health services and so forth.

California Country Organics will be partnering with Birmingham businesses throughout the entirety of the campaign to raise money starting with The Wellhouse Organization, www.the-wellhouse.org.  When I found out about The Wellhouse, there was no doubt in my mind that, not only did I need to help the organization, but I also wanted to be part of their junior board and volunteer in whatever capacity I could. 

Based in a remote location, The Wellhouse is a home with no prerequisites or requirements that often hinder victims from obtaining needed assistance.  They provide a safe residential environment to women, offering spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical support services.  They welcome all women who have been sexually exploited through human trafficking.  Regardless of race, color, creed, or religion, women in pain can be assured they will find love and acceptance at The Well House.

They don’t run on hopes, wishes, and prayers though!  They need funding to continue to do the amazing help they have been called to do!  The goal is to raise $40,000 by January 20th, just five days before their Gala to highlight Sex Trafficking Awareness Month!  The money would go to, but not limited to maintenance of the facilities, including food, clothing, and hygiene items.  When I spoke with Chapple Watkins of the organization, I heard her voice light up when she said they needed laundry detergent.  These are basic necessities that we take for granted.  Let’s work together to show these women deserve not only a chance at life, but clean clothes as well!

I have battled through a childhood of molestation, being around gang violence, drug and alcohol addiction with both parents, and years of domestic violence relationships in my adulthood.  I've been an extremely hurt and angry person for so much of my life and the only person that I was truly hurting was myself.  Helping people is my way of screaming for the little girl I once was that I was too afraid to scream for.  Helping people is my way of making visible the young woman I once was that hid her pain and shame for repeating cycles of abuse.  I've made so many mistakes because I allowed my fears and pain to fuel my life.  I'm know I'm not the only one and I know there are women and children out there that need to have some hope that there are people, that see them, hear them, and genuinely want to help and heal.

Thank you for your donation!  Every little bit helps fuel these organizations and the impactful work they do so humbly.

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Tracey Kennedy