Home Sweet Home… MCCH Gala 2015.

At different stages in our life we have many goals and dreams we desperately hope to make a reality. For many, there comes a time when the idea of living in our “dream home” takes a forefront. Wishes of a house with lots of rooms, a big backyard, a safe neighborhood, and maybe even a pool cloud our every thought. For those fortunate enough to have a home, there is this sense of belonging and accomplishment. Unfortunately, there is a multitude of homeless citizens in many parts of our nation that are longing for a place to call home. We need to ask ourselves… How can we help reduce the amount of homeless individuals on our streets?

For starters, here in Bethesda Maryland, the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless is taking a stand and aiding in providing housing to those living on the streets. Their mission:

“Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH) provides solutions to end homelessness in Montgomery County. Our vision is to build a community where everyone has a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home.”

By offering temporary shelter, support for “stable housing”, and working to create more affordable homes, the MCCH hopes to eventually eradicate homelessness in the area. Furthermore, they help find housing for veterans who have served but return home and find they don’t have anywhere to live. I had the privilege, first hand, to see what a great organization this is, when I attended the MCCH “Home Is Where The Heart Is: 25th Anniversary Gala.” It was a successful night that created awareness for the homeless and honored members of the organization. Congressman John Delaney received the Distinguished Service Award, Samaritans4Homless received the Distinguished Partner Award, and Laura Cecala was given the Distinguished Volunteer Award. These and many other individuals make up a determined team that is fighting for the homeless in our community. Yvette Johnson, another important figure, is one of the volunteers who received an award for her efforts in compiling donations for the silent auction. We met when she visited my store, The Art of Shaving, and discussed what we could offer for the auction. I was instantly blown away by her dedication and what MCCH does for the community. In her own words, I remember her stating, “I volunteer because I believe in the cause and I feel so strongly about the good we can do together.”  Something that resonated and inspired me to support this organization.

Another great event coming up for MCCH is the “KaBoom! Playground Build” on Wednesday May 20, 2015! Volunteers can sign up to build a playground for the children in the community of the Seneca Heights housing program. This is a great way to give back and really get a front row view of the good MCCH does! For more details check out: http://www.mcch.net/events/kaboomplayground.html.

MCCH Gala 2015

MCCH Gala

Now, whether your a member of Montgomery County or your miles away, this is an issue that blankets many parts of our world. My challenge to you readers… if your in the Bethesda or D.C. area take a minute and learn more about MCCH at http://www.mcch.net. For my readers in other states, hop on your computer and search for organizations like this in your area and see what volunteer options are offered. There are so many events that you can volunteer to be a part of and it doesn’t take much. We can only encourage change one person at a time and if we come together for a common goal, there is no stopping what we can accomplish.

Volunteer Honoree Yvette Johnson and myself.

Volunteer Honoree Yvette Johnson and myself.

The Traveling Cannoli.

What makes us dreamers? Is it the fact that we, for a split second, can do or be something out of the norm? For me, I think it’s something that is ingrained in our DNA and it drives us to make that leap of faith. A thirst we hope to quench but fear gets in the way. For years I always had a dream of working in entertainment. Whether it be writing, acting or hosting I wanted to do something where I could use my talents to reach people. Unfortunately, the fear of rejection and failure held me back. However, that all changed when I came across a contest searching for the next Travel Channel Star. I decided to make that leap, submit an audition video, and put myself out there with no reservations. Was it worth it? You tell me.

*(15 finalists will be announced on TravelChannel.com on May 11)*

It took me a whole week to decide where I was going to shoot my audition video. I was trying so hard to figure out what would appeal to my audience and the judges. Even worse, I was fixated on what I was going to wear. Did I look to plain? Would this shirt speak traveler? My god… is that my stomach?!? I look nine months pregnant! Well, maybe I went a little overboard. That’s when I heard the voice of reason, backed with a little tough love. My extremely patient wife advised me to be myself because it didn’t matter what I wore or where we filmed. The important thing was to make sure my personality and passion came through. Once I relaxed, I narrowed it down to Fells Point, Baltimore and the National Mall in Washington D.C.  I decided to let the camera do the work of capturing the type of travel host I could be.

Recording my first video in Fells Point went well but not without a few bumps. After about eight or nine takes my wife, aka camera man 1, said she needed an alcoholic break. We found a great restaurant, Barcocina, (which is featured in the video) and took advantage of their bottomless special. Now with a little bit of liquid courage we filmed straight through, called it a wrap, and went back for round 2 of drinks. Unfortunately our D.C. trip didn’t go as planned, due to the fact we drove for over an hour trying to find parking. It was days after the cherry blossom festival and city workers clogged up roads and caused backed-up traffic. Drivers were honking and yelling at one another, it was hot, and we hadn’t eaten all morning. Not a very good combo. At one point we thought we found a spot to parallel park but a “kind soul” screamed out the window, “You guys can’t park there! Geez!” Yea, that definitely put the nail in the coffin. Within seconds we turned to our phones and told Siri to get us the hell out of D.C. On our drive home we made the pack to always take the metro into the city and that eating a balanced meal before any excursion is important.

Needless to say, I submitted my initial video of Fells Point and I’m leaving my fate to the universe or powers that be. No matter the outcome, this has definitely sparked new ideas for Who Stole My Cannoli. Who knows, The Traveling Cannoli just might show up in your neighborhood.