To Russia With Love…

The Eagle has indeed landed!  We have arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia.  We are staying at a hostel.  The experience, though a bit rough, is making me feel like a kid again.  Bunk beds and communal living… perfect for the whole Russian experience. The kids are loving it.  The people here were very guarded when we first checked in but now the staff and boarders are like a second family.   Have met so many cool people… Photographers, artists, travelers, some young girls in their 20’s who came from Belzarus to St. Petersburg to see Jared Leto’s band, “60 Seconds to Mars” and an array of other interesting characters.    Another cool thing… it’s White Nights in St. Petersburg… so it gets dark about 1 am and gets light around 4 am.  Very cool!

But the dream come true is our work here.  We are thrilled to be working at Transit, a remarkable organization.  It is an orphanage that takes in homeless kids who have run away to the big city, and helps to place them in homes.  As you can probably imagine, it took about ten minutes for the kids and I to fall in love with each and everyone of them.  Daniel, my big pal, came up to me immediately and grabbed my hand (and my heart) and hasn’t let go.  He and his twin, Igor, are two amazing 7 year olds.  The thought of heading to our next city and saying good bye to these guys is excruciating.

Each child has a story and has been through so much, but the beauty is that they all have incredible spirits and have so much fun at Transit. We have been doing gymnastics, playing ping pong, watching videos, playing games.  On Monday, I’m going to teach an acting class with the kids, doing improv and theater games.  I think they are excited about it.

The staff has been wonderful.  These kids at Transit are so lucky to have these genuinely kind people in their lives, who are truly concerned for them and treat them with love and respect.  All of you out there, hug a kid today, and give them some love and encouragement.  And let them know that they are valuable and important.  I’m giving the hugs out here in St. Pete…

And again, to all of you who have supported our project, my gratitude is immeasurable.   More to follow…


Great to hear from you guys. Sounds like you are doing some fantastic and rewrding work there. The kids and you guys will all be blessed from this wonderful experience. You are touching lifes there and they in turn are touching yours. Bring one of those kids that needs a home back here,. I wouuld love to take them in! Continue to enjoy this tremendous experience.
Miss You guys. Love ya!

Mary Jewell Gutowski

Hi JD!
What a touching update…Thank you for writing this. Hugs to you and the boys and give an extra one to sweet Daniel and his brother from me. I understand what you mean about the thought of leaving there, but what you are imparting to these kids is far reaching and will affect them for the rest of their lives. Much Love, Mary 🙂

Happy to hear you and the boys are enjoying yourselves and although we miss u like crazy here sharing you is blessing so many others…. Class is Rockin and Rollin! Love you’s lol be safe

J.D. It is exciting to see that the 12in12 has “officially” gotten under way there at Transit. I cannot imagine how difficult it will be for you and the boys to leave after making so many emmotional connections and bonds with these remarkable and sweet children. I would need to bring them all with me. Aiya says hello to Buck. Stay safe.

You must be proud of what you’re doing … life is giving all three of you, a chance to learn “hands on” what “do unto others” really means.
I’m proud of you, as well …!

hey there you handsome men….glad to know things working out well in St Petersburg for you….knew that they would! hugs to you guys as well as we hug those here!!! you all ROCK! xoxoxobo

jD! Look at you blogging like a pro! I can’t wait to see more pics and some video of your adventures around the world. The world is so lucky to have a family like yours! We miss you!

J.D., it’s still hard to believe that you and the boys are there and that 12-in-12 has officially begun. I’m so proud of you three, so amazed. Keep up the blogging. Remember you are much loved by so many in Charlotte.

Wanda Mauch Williams

JD, what an amazing experience for you and the boys, You are teaching them and sharing an experience that will be with them for a life time. My thoughts and prayers are with you all on this journey! :). BTW. Great picture of you guys! Thanks for sharing

It all sounds so great, what an adventure! I promise to try and spread the love here as you have always inspired me to do, but first love to you guys for all the great work you are doing

fantastic, glad to finally read your first blog. so wonderful you are there and able to help those in need. can’t wait to
read the next blog! be well and be safe!! much love from Marcy n the boyz xoxoox

WOW !!! Thanks for sharing your experiences !
Heart felt and touched !!!
Hostels , what an Adventure !!!
Be well and Have Fun —- until ur next post

And they are so lucky to have you guys there with them too! Glad to hear you are having great adventures! Can’t wait to hear what’s next!

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