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My faith commands me to take care of those in need, particularly the children. Then in 2008, our nation faced a serious financial crisis. During that crisis, funding for mental health became disrupted, and children suffered. The crushing need to help our children led me to walk across America to tell everyone who would listen about the needs of children with emotional issues, behavioral issues, and developmental disabilities. Little did I know at the outset of my walk that it would become a walk of life’s lessons learned about the beautiful, decent, caring people in our nation. During my walk, my cynicism was replaced with hope, with gratitude, and with renewed faith in mankind. I was renewed spiritually and emotionally by the people I met along my journey. My walk started as a spiritual journey. It was a walk of atonement and a walk of gratitude. I always told people that I came from a very poor family. My mom struggled. Years later, after seeing what many of the children at Good Shepherd have gone through, I realized that I was not poor at all. In fact, I came from an extremely wealthy family who just happened to not have any money. I never once doubted that my mom and my brothers and sisters and family loved me. The children of Good Shepherd and the sisters have taught me to be grateful for the wonderful gifts that I have been granted caretaker of. The walk of atonement was a time to reflect and ask those people that I have hurt in my life to forgive me, those people in my life whom I have disappointed to pray for me, and those people in my life that I have helped that they would help another. I realized later in life that I learned much more from my mistakes than I had from my successes. The walk was an opportunity to write about, pray about, and seek forgiveness for. Atonement goes well beyond being forgiven. As a Catholic, I know that my Savior forgives my sins, but that does not alleviate my responsibility to atone for what I have done or what I have failed to do. When atonement is sought, behaviors change. The cycle of forgiveness is then complete, and true family healing can occur. I was hoping that during my walk, the Holy Spirit would guide me and give me the wisdom that I would need to develop a program to help children in need. Little did I know that the lessons I had hoped to learn were overwhelmed by the life’s lessons learned while I walked across America. Join me in reliving the amazing stories of my walk across America for children. It’s all good!

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