Posts Tagged ‘Labor Day’

Jinna Marbry, after an 18-hour workday on Sept. 5, 2010

By: Jinna Marbry

Why would a 46-year-old single mom with no free time or extra money who hates flying want to drop everything to hop a plane to Hollywood, Fla. to spend Labor Day weekend at a homeless shelter with people less than half her age?

Believe me, when I felt the plane lift off the ground, I was asking myself that very question.  The answer, however, only became clear to me after an 18-hour grueling day that made me want to scream, laugh, and cry – all at the same time.

I have always had a heart for those in need and upon getting the courage to go college at 41 I wanted to share my love of journalism in a way that could make things better for our big ol’ world (syrupy sweet idea, I know). I digress, sorry.

Upon discovering the information on Will Write for Food 2010 through the Society of Professional Journalists, I couldn’t help but think what an awesome way to use my skills, but I was scared.  Back and forth I would visit the info page, talking myself into submitting work to be considered, then quickly talking myself out of it.  I can’t do it, I’m too old, I haven’t had the same opportunities to get in the field as all the other college students, I thought to myself. After all, I’ve been playing around with frills like working to pay the electric bill and keeping my 8-year-old daughter in zuzu pets. Yet I sucked up the courage and applied. Then I waited and bugged Rachael if I had been chosen.

So I got on a plane to share a room with giddy college girls who I had no clue about, going to spend my one and only free weekend in a smelly, dark homeless shelter thinking, “What the Hell am I doing?” Later I would find that my roommates were two of the most amazing, bright, intelligent, and sweetest humans beings God put on this earth.

On Sunday, Sept. 5, 2010, I figured it out.  I was on an adventure: a crazy quest to do something, to not let all the excuses of my station in life get in the way. I was reaching out of my nice little warm cocoon to prove that I can matter – that I can give a voice to someone through my writing and media skills (when I can get the stupid Final Cut to work).

I met Ellen. She is 45 years old – one year younger than me.  She is a prostitute with a $400 a day crack habit. She’s been abused, and a few ways that you would never imagine existed. All Ellen has to her name is a hand full of clothes and a story – a story that I had the honor of telling on Labor Day weekend thanks to Will Write for Food 2010.  Yes, I may have screwed up the video segments or missed out on some of the younger college crowd jokes. I may have been clumsy in my interviewing skills, but I gave Ellen a voice.  If I can do that for others, I have figured out my purpose. Thank you my Will Write for Food 2010 team. You Rock! Hey, I’m not too old to use that expression, either!

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