Phyllis White is a resident of the Lakewood neighborhood, just outside of Charlotte, N.C.—one primary site for our current National Community Resiliency Project (NCRP).
Lakewood historically has suffered a higher than average violent crime rate (four times that of greater Charlotte); as well as greater levels of poverty; single, female-heads of households, teen pregnancy and so on. We have learned recently that since "official" inception of the NCRP there, the violent crime rate in Lakewood is down 62%, with assaults and robberies with deadly weapons down 80%. Special thanks to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Barbara Sabol, our Project Director there. And very special thanks to the Lakewood CDC and Pre-school, our project partners in Lakewood.
Phyllis sent us this letter recently. These are all Phyllis’ words. We have made some minor grammatical and spelling edits for clarity.
I just have to tell you this. To tell you the truth I have to tell someone this.
I would like for you to know, I'm very, very grateful for you all and for the Principles, because I look at all people from different walks of life in a much more positive, kind, loving, caring way now.
When I see the bad, bold, ugly, crack heads, falling down drunks and the hookers; I do not look at them as downright trifling people. I look at them as people that did not have positive role models in their lives, or someone to love them and [tell them] life is worth fighting for. They did not have someone to hug them, letting them know they are bigger and better than what they are doing.
They did not, or do not have someone to tell them that their life is worth a lot more than they can ever imagine. I let them know they are somebody no matter what someone else may have told them, in the past or today ...
I will hug them, I will feed them and I would tell them something nice about themselves that day, that either they do not see or know or never been told before. I tell them that I know something must have happened to them very deep one day in their life [in the past].
… Whatever that something may be, it has pulled them down into that deep dark hole, and they do not know how to pull themselves out, but there is a way out. Wherever there is a will there is a way, and any time they need me I will be there, even if it's just to listen.
I tell all The Three Principles is the key to your happiness, but you have to want it. I let them know I used to be on so many pills ‘till I could not remember which one I had or have not taken. I would get so mad and be ready to cut you or bust you in your head with something if you said the wrong thing to me . . .
I let them know: I would speak before thinking and how my mind played tricks on me when someone have done me wrong, but when I went to my very first Three Principles workshop back in October of 2008, my whole world turned around. As well as my life.
All this that happened to me was for the better. I'm much calmer, cool and collected. I see me different, people in the world different. I have peace within now. I know now, none of us are crazy, we are just mist-understood.
I still have a little ways to go, but I will be alright, I have faith now. I do not live for last year, last month, last week, next week, nor do I live for tomorrow. I pray to see tomorrow, but for now I live for today.
With all this peace, I can give love to others, teach others to love, feel, trust and believe, believe in life, believe in them, because I now have the MIND CONSCIOUSNESS AND THOUGHT to do it all now.
As a Licensed Foster Parent, I can open my home to other children and teach them with the tools I have, to never give up on their parents, themselves, most of all on life. Everything is much, much brighter on the other side; I'll take you there if you let me.
I can go to people like them now and share my story, about my life. I told each and every person I talk to, if they do not believe me when I tell them what the Three Principles has done for me and my family, friends and other children that I deal with on a daily basis. I dare them to come to at least one CRP workshop and prove me wrong.
Life may not be Cherries and Berries, but it's still worth living.
You have a Great Day, OK?
[Editor’s note: Phyllis has found new strength to be able to take foster children into her home, as she writes, above. This last year, she received her first placement.]
Another thing I would like to share with you: Things are going fine with me and my Foster Daughter. At times it makes me want to give up, but I don't, because I have to keep reminding myself of what and where this child came from and what all of this is doing to her.
All the time, I keep the Three Principles in mind. The bad, nasty, disrespectful behavior she came into my home with, all is changing for the better. By me working and dealing with her on the level of the Principles, it has changed her life, and my life, and the ones she use to disrespect all for the better.
Yes, a little of the dis-respectfulness and the behavior is still there, but it keep getting better day by day.
School grades, they were tore up from the floor up, yes ma’am, last year before she came into my home. Now they will blow the roof off the mother sucker! … I owe it all to the Three Principles, and you guys for letting us meet.
[Final editor's note: Phyllis' foster daughter's most recent grades: 1 C, 4 B's, 1 A.]