* Making A Difference!!

One Journey Ends and Another One Begins!!!

One Journey Ends and Another One Begins!!!

We have returned to the homeland. We’ve hit the ground running, full-tilt boogie. After 13 months on the road, we have returned to the Queen City – Charlotte. How does it feel? Bittersweet. Happy to be home and see all the people who are near and dear to us… to experience a hot shower, air conditioning, french fries, a car, and our beds. But I have to admit, I miss the adventure, the sense of deeper purpose, the present moment “day to day” living and I miss all of our friends that we have made along the way from all over the world. But no time to wallow in it because now the real work begins with the Foundation – Twelve In Twelve.

After Haiti, we arrived in Durant, Mississippi. Greeted by both of my sisters and their families, we had a few days rest before we headed to Jackson to work with an organization called, Operation Upward.

 

 

This organization’s summer program feeds kids that are used to getting a school meal during the year but were not getting fed over the summer. A husband and wife team, they have created an incredible after-school program for kids with snacks, art program and sports. An inspiring couple and an organization that we are committed to continue working with.

After finishing our work there, we headed to the Gulf Coast to Gulfport to work with Habitat for Humanity. What an amazing group! The community is still in the process of rebuilding from Katrina. I was under the impression that Habitat for Humanity built homes and gave them to under-privileged families.

IMG_0927That’s not how it works. They educate individuals and families… helping them to get their credit in order, to learn to budget for a mortgage, and then actually helps them build their own home. The person getting the home is require to participate in the building of the house and will then have a manageable mortgage on that home. That’s way better than a “hand out”… they train people to become responsible homeowners. Very cool.

 

 

Jackson helped build a deck, Buck stained wood and I helped with flooring. Hard work but so gratifying. The Habitat for Humanity staff could not have been cooler.

Our last stop was the 9th ward in New Orleans. We were pleased to see a lot of homes rebuilt. There is still a long way to go, but there was definitely progress!

And now we have returned to Charlotte. The boys are back in school, and I have returned to teaching acting and doing weekend seminars in Atlanta, Wilmington, Williamsburg, and any other city that will have me… 🙂

But my focus has changed. I am on a mission to help the organizations we were lucky enough to work with on our trip. The world needs our help. And the Lewis family is committed to do our part. We are in the process of building our business plan for our foundation with the help of an incredible Board of Directors and team of administrators. I am the luckiest man alive when it comes to being surrounded by smart, focused and supportive people. Thanks to all that are helping me to focus on the task ahead. A special “shout out” to Mike Watson, Candice Langston, Desiree Kane and Jillzey. You are my Dream Team and I feel so fortunate to have you on my side. Beyond grateful. And to Larry Sprinkle, Rob Shapiro, Kristina Haddad, Bo Henderson, Ed Springs, LuAnne Bernier, Liz Branca, Ed Smith, and a ton of others who are the absolute best!

My reflection on our journey… I know I’ll start crying writing this. There I go… didn’t take long. I feel so blessed and fortunate to have had the journey of a lifetime with my two sons at my side. All three of us are different people now. We have seen things that so few will have the opportunity to see… good and bad. We have met extraordinary people all over the world whose kindness has touched us so deeply. My sons have learned that the world is an incredible place with wonderful people everywhere…regardless of race, color, creed, and orientation. This journey is my legacy…. Something that will stay with my sons long after I am gone. Something they will share with family, friends and their kids. It has not only changed their lives but will also change the lives of all those they interact with forever.

Buck said to me the other day that he is committed to making a difference in the world. Do you know what it’s like to have your 9 year old say that to you and mean it? I am the proudest father on earth.

My sons were so brave in so many ways on this trip. They were thrown into situation with a language barrier, tough accommodation, intense weather conditions, questionable health conditions, crazy food, and yes, they had to share a room with their dad for a full year! But, I’ll tell you, they worked their butts off… sometimes 10 to 12 hour days. For all of you who backed us up on this project… our friends, family, followers, supporters and sponsors… Jackson and Buck Lewis did you proud! And heck, I did okay myself!

So now the work begins. Stay tuned as we name our new Board of Directors, our administrative staff, and the 12 projects that Twelve in Twelve is taking on. So much is about to happen with this organization. I’m beyond excited.

Oh, yeah… The Huffington Post named us, “American Heroes”, I got to meet Arianna Huffington (who couldn’t have been more supportive and kind) and they are giving us our own blog on Huff Post. What an honor!

Let us know if you would like to be involved with Twelve in Twelve, as we head into the future with sails wide open.

 

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Oh, believe me… the Love Revolution continues!!!

And you can always donate to the cause as well.. Link on the website. Spread the word!

Big Love from The Lewis Boys. More to follow!

Posted by JD in * Making A Difference!!, 26 comments

We are off and running!

Finally… The amazing dream realized!  The boys and I are off and running. We left Charlotte, NC, this morning with perhaps a few too many bags.  We have arrived in New York City, safe and sound and will spend the weekend here. Very exciting.  We are staying with my dear friend, Bob Kanter, an Emmy Award winning documentary film producer.  This evening we had a slice of authentic NY pizza and I have promised the boys a visit to the Natural History Museum tomorrow.  We are going to see if we can volunteer at a shelter down the street from us on Saturday.  Sunday we are headed to Berlin and then St. Petersburg, Russia.  It’s truly happening and we are on our way!  To all of you who have supported this project, my sons and I are beyond grateful.  Your hard work and encouragement has made this “once in a lifetime” journey possible.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!   More to report shortly… after I get some sleep…  Packing up your entire life, making arrangement to leave a place for a year, and then flying with two kids can take it out of ya!  Night.

Posted by JD in * Making A Difference!!, 14 comments

One Week Until Lift-Off!

A week away!  It’s truly amazing to me that in 7 days, the boys and I will be heading out on the adventure of a lifetime, jumping into the void of the great unknown.  It’s unsettling at best, but the possibilities of discovery are endless.  I know that my sons and I will come back different people… that much is a given.  Here’s a little inside information:  I have been really emotional and crying alot, not just because I’m a tad scared and sad to leave my life and people I love behind, but because I feel like something remarkable, extraordinary, and profound is about to take place and at times my feelings are overwhelming.

We fly out of JFK  and have a layover in Berlin, where Jackson will celebrate his 14th birthday.  He wants to go to the Berlin Wall, or at least check out what is still left of The Wall.  He’s going to do a video blog on the subject, which I think will be really cool.

Then we are off to St. Petersburg, Russia for our first volunteer job.  We will be working with “Transit”.  It’s an organization that helps homeless teens transition from being on the street to being placed in foster care.  We are really looking forward to helping there.

We are so grateful to all the people who have made this journey possible. I want to thank a few by name:   Robert Shapiro, Ed Smith, Bo Henderson, Ed Springs, Liz Branca, Lisa MacLeish, LuAnne Bernier, Scott Pacitti, Kristina Haddad, Esther Benjamin, Rachel Woodhouse, Valerie Bobo, Sue Sanford, Jennifer Taylor, Michael Lightweaver, Peter Cipkowski, Bert Woodard, Jay Everette, Scott Galiher, Les Satinover, Lindsey Moser, Linda Britt, Patti Price and to every single actor at The Actor’s Lab – Charlotte, who has encouraged me every week to plow through it.  I love you all.

Okay, Jack and Buck, time to start packing…  Let’s begin The Lewis and Lewis and Lewis Expedition!

We’ll keep you all posted.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…. jd

Posted by JD in * Making A Difference!!, 2 comments

And The Blog Goes On….

It has been a tough couple of weeks.  The boys and I moved from our three-bedroom house in Plaza Midwood to a one-room efficiency apartment with no air conditioning.  That in itself was quite an adjustment.  We wanted to get everything in storage and get used to living in small quarters…  But then all hell broke loose.

My aunt and uncle who raised me my entire life both passed away 2 weeks apart.  And in between that, I was diagnosed with a carcinoma on my lip and had to have two surgeries.  …one to remove a lymph node in my neck (which came back negative, thank God) and another to cut out the cancer on my lip.  The good news…  all is well and it’s all taken care of even though currently I look like Angelina Jolie.  It has felt like a spiritual battle…  as if the dark forces were trying to get in the way of us going out and making a difference in the world.

Isn’t it interesting how things end up working out?  I had mentioned to my sister six months ago how I was concerned about leaving my elderly aunt and uncle behind while we did this trip.  Now they have both passed on.  It’s like they moved on to pave the way for what we are about to do.  Though the loss is great, I feel that it’s part of a master plan.  And as far as the lip…  The doctor said that I was incredibly lucky to have caught it before I left for a year abroad.  Truly, I am the luckiest man alive.

Enough squawking.  Back to preparing for the great journey!

So now we are slowly getting back on track.  We have a little more than 3 weeks left until we ship out.  It has crept up on us quickly.  We are getting used to living in small quarters, though I do have to admit, it’s a bit cramped and hot.  By the way, the neighbors at our new place have been incredibly kind and baked us cookies and have been so welcoming.

Our visas are almost all in order, we have most of our immunizations done and we are preparing for the home stretch.  If you have ever taken a trip, you know that it seems like you are never going to get everything done before you leave.   Well, it REALLY feels that way to me.  Leaving for a year, there is so much to get in order.

But I have made the To-Do list and I have been checking things off each day…. And come July 1st, we will be on our merry way.

We are still raising funds and will continue to do so as the trip progresses.  If our mission resonates with you, please donate here on the website.   Until the next blog… Coming soon.  jd

We will be posting a video blog this week as well.

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And The Weekly Blog Begins…

Jackson simply said, “Shouldn’t we be trying to make a difference in the world”.  Now he’s learning that words and ideas are powerful things.  Not every idea sees the light of day, but this one had a certain spark that caught, and now we stand watching in amazement as it unfolds.  It’s really thrilling.  I have to say, I’m really proud of the fact that I have two sons who actually care about the world around them.

The planning process continues to be overwhelming at times.  I can’t begin to tell you how many days I can hardly get out of bed because the task just seems too daunting and frightful.  That’s when the belief your children have in you, is bigger than your own belief in yourself.  See, my kids continue to believe I can do great things…  they haven’t quite figured out I’m just a scared kid like them, who’s acting like a grown up because that’s my job.  I guess sometimes you just have to fake it ’til you make it… for the boys.

So let’s see… What’s been going on?  Well, besides meeting with Esther Benjamin of The Peace Corps who gave me great advice on planning this trip… To the wonderful guidance and support of Robert Shapiro, former principal economic adviser to Bill Clinton… To the support and friendship of Peter Cipkowski at Scholastic… I’ve just signed with a great literary agent, Steve Ross, who published Obama’s book – “The Audacity of Hope”.

We have received a grant from Wells Fargo/Wachovia Foundation. We have managed to meet with His Excellency Ambassador Joseph of Haiti, met with The Australian Embassy, had a beautiful e-mail from Yoko Ono, been interviewed by a number of magazines including Creative Loafing in Charlotte, been invited to appear on Fox News Rising, we’re being featured in The Whole Life Times in Los Angeles, yesterday had a phone meeting with the Foreign Policy Dept at The Clinton Foundation,  and just got off the phone with Janet and Fritz in Haiti at Dessaix-Baptiste Music School in Jacmel, where we will be staying and working in June of 2012.

Over the last few months we have organized an incredible group of friends who have worked tirelessly to help put this project together.  And I need to mention them…My dearest Kristina Haddad, Bo Henderson, R.A. Buck, Tony Lydgate, Robert Shapiro, David Kirkpatrick, Duncan Tucker, Bert Woodard, the wise and wonderful Lisa MacLeish, Rachel Woodhouse, Linda Britt, Lindsey Moser, Liz Branca, Jennifer Taylor, Mary & Mike Gutowski, Patrice D. Evans, Paige Hauff, Rebecca Thomason, Kathy Abernathy, Drew Grey, Michael Lightweaver, Francine Popkin, Sue Sandford, Wheelock Whitney… and that’s just to name a few.

Thanks for joining us on this extraordinary journey.  I’m so honored to be able to be part of this grassroots effort.  I know somehow we are going to make a difference.  Perhaps we’ll discover what it means to be a citizen of the world and a member of the human race… not separated by borders, belief systems, skin color, or political doctrine.  The possibilities are endless, don’t you think?

Posted by JD in * Making A Difference!!, 2 comments

And the Journey Begins…

This is our first blog written on Thanksgiving Day, 2010.   My boys and I agreed that we wanted to make a difference in the world, so we came up with the idea of “Twelve in Twelve.”  We will travel to 12 countries in 12 months doing humanitarian work.  In addition, we will shoot a documentary of our travels with the intention of inspiring others to make similar trips.  Our itinerary is as follows:  Russia, India, China, Cambodia, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Australia, South Georgia Island, Paraguay, Peru, and finishing up our tour in Haiti.  After that, we will live in Mississippi for a month to document the poverty in our own country.

With the help of so many people and the generous contributions of individuals and corporations, we will make this trip a reality.  My goal is to encourage others to do their part in making a difference in the world.  We all know that there are huge global issues facing our planet, but so few of us are aware of how we, as individuals, can actually help.  With our documentary, I hope to shed some light on the pressing needs in different areas of the world and how someone wishing to help, could actually make a difference.

Ultimately, the goal of our project is to set up “The Twelve in Twelve Network.”   We will establish a resource to help guide and assist people who are interested in doing global relief work.  Our organization will serve as a “One-Stop” resource, for everything to do with humanitarian relief work.   We will help plan travel for individuals and families, in terms of their time commitment, low cost travel options, areas of greatest need, kinds of work the traveler wishes to perform, safety and medical concerns aboard, and setting up accommodation and/or host family situations.

I’m excited to go out and see first hand what my boys and I can do to make the world a better place.  I know it won’t be an easy trip, but I want to teach my sons to be the men the world needs. I want to teach them that sometimes you just have to stand up and take some action.  To make a difference is to live a life fully, and that is our intention.

Please join us as the Lewis boys travel all seven continents, from country to country.  We will be posting video and written blogs along the way with what we have learned, discovered, experienced, and how we are attempting to make a difference.

Posted by JD in * Making A Difference!!, 2 comments