November is truly the month of “all the feels” because I have another heartwarming story to share with you today! Have you heard of Gigs for Digs? A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to attend the 5th annual Gigs for Digs benefit at the Detroit Opera House. The charity event benefited SAY Detroit and Humble Design.
Best-selling author and journalist Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie) hosted the benefit and I was pretty excited to see Mr. Albom speak in-person!
I have a special place in my heart for Mr. Albom’s work because when Elijah (19, my oldest son) was having a tough time with depression (5 years ago), I gifted him the novel Five People You Meet in Heaven. Elijah loved the book and it helped lift his spirits during a very tough time in his life.
5TH ANNUAL GIGS FOR DIGS
Gigs for Digs was a lovely evening filled with heartwarming stories from SAY Detroit and Humble Design, feel-good music from Detroit’s own Apropos and legendary blues singer Thornetta Davis, and Mitch Albom’s new book launch! (We had to leave a little early to get the kids so we missed seeing Thomas McClary’s Commodores Experience.)
Gigs for Digs Music Performers
- R&B artist Apropos
- Legendary blues singer Thornetta Davis
- International recording artist Thomas McClary’s Commodores Experience
NOTE: Please forgive my low-resolution photographs. My Canon camera was experiencing technical difficulties during the show so I had to do the best I could! 🙂
SAY Detroit was founded by Mitch Albom and it serves many families in the Detroit area. The organization offers family assistance for education, food, medical care, and shelter. The nonprofit organization also contributes to other ongoing projects such as the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic and the SAY Detroit Play Center.
Humble Design was founded by Treger Strasberg and the organization also serves individuals, families, and veterans in Detroit. The nonprofit provides donated furniture and household goods to furnish homes.
During the Gigs for Digs event, one family shared their inspiring story of how SAY Detroit and Humble Design helped them rebuild their home and fully furnish it with beautiful furniture, home appliances, and home decor.
FINDING CHIKA: MITCH ALBOM SHARES CHIKA’S STORY
Another touching story that was shared was the story of Chika. Mr. Albom wrote his new book Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family in honor of the late Chika Jeune.
Here’s an excerpt from Mitch Albom’s official website:
“Chika Jeune was born three days before the devastating earthquake that decimated Haiti in 2010. She spent her infancy in a landscape of extreme poverty, and when her mother died giving birth to a baby brother, Chika was brought to the Have Faith Haiti Mission & Orphanage that Albom operates in Port-au-Prince.
With no children of their own, the forty-plus children who live, play, and go to school at the orphanage have become family to Mitch and his wife, Janine. Chika’s arrival makes a quick impression. Brave and self-assured, even as a three-year-old, she delights the other kids and teachers. But at age five, Chika is suddenly diagnosed with something a doctor there says, “No one in Haiti can help you with.”
Mitch and Janine bring Chika to Detroit, hopeful that they can get the medical help needed to return her to a healthy life in Haiti. Instead, Chika becomes a permanent part of their household, and their lives, as they embark on a two-year, around-the-world journey to find a cure for an inoperable brain tumor. As Chika’s boundless optimism and humor teach Mitch the joys a child brings to their lives, he learns that a relationship built on love, no matter what blows it takes, can never be lost.”EXCERPT FROM MITCH ALBOM’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE
You can read more about Chika’s story and Mitch Albom’s new book here if you like.
I don’t think there was a dry eye in the Detroit Opera House that night. Even Travis was crying by the middle of the event because he was so overcome with emotion.
As we were leaving the opera house, Travis told me Chika reminded him so much of our own 7-year-old daughter Zhen. He said that was partly why Chika’s story touched his heart. (Even when I read aloud my draft of this blog post, Travis started to get teary-eyed again!)
“The most precious thing you can give someone is your time because you can never get it back. When you don’t think about getting it back, you’ve given it in love.”Mitch Albom, Finding Chika
Special thanks to Apropos for inviting us to see his AMAZING performance at Gigs for Digs! Follow Apropos on Instagram here.
Click here for the latest Mitch Albom updates and to purchase his new book Finding Chika.
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Yours, not yours. We wrestled with this question many times, Chika. Remember what you once asked? How did you find me? I promised myself you would never feel lost again. I hated the idea that you—or any of our kids—might ever feel unwanted.⠀ ⠀ Occasionally, by the way, even friends would use the “yours” word. “It’s great what you’re doing for a child that’s not yours.” It stung me to hear it, and puzzled me to think there would be a difference in our efforts if somehow you had our DNA.⠀ ⠀ Yours, not yours. The paperwork at the orphanage is signed by me. It obligates us to nurture, feed, educate, and protect the children—all things mothers and fathers are supposed to do. But in the end, it is a document of responsibility, not parenthood. I am, for all our kids, just Mr. Mitch, their “legal guardian,” the words I used at the first hospital you and I went to, Chika. It feels sometimes like a diminished title. Still, when I look around, it is me, or Miss Janine, or our compassionate staff at the mission, kissing the children good night, waking them every morning, tying their shoes, cutting their sandwiches, reading them books, racing them to the doctor if something happens.⠀ ⠀ We did not bring any of these little souls into the world. That truth can never be overstated.⠀ ⠀ I wonder, Chika, if anyone has blind claim over a child, save for God. I have witnessed the purest connection between an adoptive mother and her children, and I have witnessed helpless infants shunned by those who birthed them. The opposite also happens. After a while, you make peace with the truth: love determines our bonds. It always comes down to that.⠀ ⠀ #FindingChika #excerpt #NationalAdoptionMonth #adoptionislove #fostercare #orphanage #adoptiveparents #mitchalbom #mitchalbombooks #excerpt #booksofinstagram #NationalAdoptionDay #bookstagrammers #quotesaboutlove #bookstagram