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!

34 Comments

  1. Linda Frazure

    I am also sad I know that I waited every month to read your post, and IT IS bittersweet. What amazing journey… and also what you will do with it now Love you guys.
    Linda

  2. Nina Weinman

    JD, I am so inspired by what you’ve accomplished and honored to know you all these years. Reading about your journey has inspired me to want to be a better parent and teach my children about service and giving back to the less fortunate in the world. I would love to be involved in your foundation in any way! The world is lucky to have you and those boys and I have no doubt that you all will leave an indelible mark on the planet. Much love, Nina

  3. Billy Pollina

    Phenomenal story and journey! I enjoyed learning about all the cultures and people you met throughout the year. I look forward to hearing more about the foundation and what the Lewis boys will be up to next.

  4. Elise

    It’s bittersweet but I am so glad you are home!!! I have missed you. There are also so many great things in your horizon and 12 in 12 is FAR from done or over!!! Xoxoxoxox

  5. Karli G

    WOW!

    You guys did it! I remember when you guys were in the vision stage of Twelve in Twelve. What an amazing contribution JD?! It’s also so incredible that the boys got to experience such a wonderful opportunity. Thanks for keeping us updated with the blogs and for sharing with us. How can we help to keep this going???

  6. Christine ONeal

    I’ve been following your journey from the start and am so amazed by all you have done. I would very much like involved in your future endevours! Please let me know what I can do when you get a chance.

  7. Patrick Duffy

    Dear cousins,

    Your Canadian side is immensely proud of you and what you have done, let alone accomplished. We followed you from Day 1 and relished your “leaning into your mission”. It takes courage to start and more determination to carry on and carry through. We know many of the lands and people you visited and worked with. So we do appreciate your efforts, reporting and the photos.

    They say when you retire, you must have something “to retire to”. And it looks like you are on that threshold; retiring from a blessed journey and about to move into the next chapter. Thresholds are always exciting. Count us in J.D., Jackson and Buck, and Bon voyage !!

    Your Canadian family, Patrick and Elisabeth Duffy and the “kids”, in Vancouver.

  8. Webb R Brodt

    Well, this is a lot shorter than the note I wrote before which suddenly disappeared w/o explanation. Nevertheless, suffice it to say that it was crammed full of accolades etc, then tears started welling in my eyes and I had to quit. PLEASE tell us how we may be involved in future other than monetarily, because I have a lot of time and inclination to give, but not a lot of money.

    Bless all of you involved for the journey and alacrity of task. This will stay with so many people for SO long. (Hopefully, eternally!)

    Let me know how a currently active volunteer in MN can assist YOU.

    You are such beautiful people!
    – wrb.

  9. anne alvara

    J.D. YOU ARE AN AMAIZING MAN AND FATHER. YOU HAVE GIVEN JACK AND BUCK SO MANY LIFE EVENTS AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE. THEY HAVE MORE INSIGHT THAN MOST PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTRY. THESE EXPERIENCES HAVE CHANGED THEIR LIVES FOREVER. YOU ARE A CARING AND GENEROUS MAN. LOVE YOU ALL ANNE

  10. Carol Hasbrouck

    J.D., Buck and Jackson,

    Thank u for inspiring us to take our Service Adventure. We have been on the road in the U.S. for 3 months (one more month for this leg) and have served in 27 nonprofits so far! I tell EVERYONE about u guys since you gave me the confidence and inspiration to take the leap. We have been blessed with much media coverage and can’t wait to write our book. Off to Wash DC today for more service work! Our blog is at http://www.damesgonewild.com. Hope to see u there.

  11. Kristina Haddad

    My jaw drops every time I think about what the Lewis boys have done – you are heroes to say the least – you have no idea how many people you have impacted with your acts of generosity, love and kindness! I have been personally inspired and the bravery and courage you display is equally inspiring. Thank you for your example – so grateful to have all three of you on this planet! xoxo

  12. John

    JD and sons,

    Wow- So much to absorb and I can’t take it all in in one sitting. However I will check back in regularly . You have created a life’s work with your sons. We all are called to different things and you have found your ‘thing’. Keep it up!

    JW

  13. Scott Nolley

    What an amazing journey… a noble example and a terrific lesson for us all. That you have come back to your starting point, and brought the method and the message home is a tribute to the amazing trio that you are, and to all that will come from this beginning.

    XXOO

    S.

  14. Nina Giovannitti

    Brave isn’t enough of a title and curious, an understatement; a dedication and passion that verges on extreme, would be saying it mildly, maybe astonishing! Gutsy! And certainly heart felt and caring on the deepest level would be only a start. Parents everywhere need to know what is possible as far as teaching their children and also what their children are capable of. Hats off to J.D. for trusting himself and his boys enough to take such a journey. We all can learn something. Bravo Lewis dudes, bravo.

  15. Cathy Ladman

    That J.D., Jackson and Buck have done this is staggering to me. How is it even possible? It’s enormous and wonderful. It makes me wonder why more of us don’t do this. I mean, it’s clearly such an amazing journey on so many levels. And to offer your kids this life-changing opportunity that is definitely going to make them better people and, hence, make the world that much better is fairly indescribable. I love you, J.D. I have loved talking with you online from around the world. I hoped that some of this would rub off on me. I hope it has. Even a tiny bit.

  16. Kent Smith

    What you guys have done will last for a lifetime with so many people! Not just the ones you have touched and cared for on your travels, but also for the one’s who have watched your travels from back home in the great USA. Your strength and vision to keep going when most would have packed up and returned home is a testament to your courage and bravery. The part that has impressed me the most is that once you have returned to America you have continued to help people in need. I am so thankful for the wonderful stories and for always keeping an open heart to the people you meet along the road of life. May we all learn from those simple lessons and continue the dream alive! .

  17. Laura Weingast

    I’m so proud of you and the boys and what you have learned and accomplished. You are really making a tangible difference in the lives of so many people. What incredible kids you have raised. You are all truly inspirational. Wish more kids had the attitude yours have. Lots of love to you!

  18. Allyson

    You John are an inspiration and a hero not only to the world at large, but also to me! Humanitarianism is the greatest gift you could bestow upon your boys. Congratulations on a life fully realized with love – Xo Ally

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