Earlier this week, I received the following email message from an inspiring Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre Volunteer.

From: Oh Susannah
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 11:50 AM
To: Jordan Hamilton, M.Soc.Sci., MBA
Cc: Jenny; Vanisha
Subject: WHY I wanted to be a part of the Free Hugs Project

Hi Jordan

You asked me to write a little blurb about why I wanted to be a part of [the Free Hugs] project.  I realise it’s hard to put into words because for me it’s not so much a WHY question as it is a WHY NOT one.  Why Not questions for me typically result in some conscious decision to share love and compassion.  After 14 months of volunteering twice a week at the DI, I feel like I’ve received much more than I could ever give.  I look forward to Monday and Thursday nights when I set aside my worries, ego and anxieties about my own circumstances, and just do my very best to come in a clean and clear way and be fully present for others.  On one night, it might be listening to a woman tell me she was just sexually assaulted, or a man telling me he is the victim of partner abuse.  Someone else might tell me they are getting into housing, and another might show me pictures of his family.  Often their stories reflect themes of addiction, broken relationships, discrimination, or an overall sense of loneliness, isolation and powerlessness.  I know what these things feel like, and how very much human contact and the simple act of a shared hug can help.  Hugs are such a simple and powerful way to acknowledge the good in one another, and it’s that essential goodness that binds each one of us together in a “We Are All Related” statement to the universe.  When I embrace that connection, it just comes out in a hug.

In a nutshell, I guess for me Free Hugs was really just a natural extension of what I’m already doing at the DI–giving and receiving kindness, compassion and respect.  Why not?

It also doesn’t hurt to imagine that we were all just a very tiny part of helping to change the world, one hug at a time!

Thanks again for allowing Jenny and me to spearhead this initiative.  I hope it grows, and I hope the Free in Free Hugs will always mean that there truly are no strings attached via religion, politics or any outside influence or agenda.