10/08/2010 10:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Lesson in Courage

More than a few times a week, Michelle and I read an email that starts out with something along the lines of, "I have lost my job" or "we just lost our home" or even "I have lost everything." Generally, when a letter starts out that way, that person needs help. Mind you, that's not a complaint. That's exactly why we started this group, to help people and we are more than happy to lend you our hands and hearts.

As a rule, if a letter starts out with horrible hardship, the person will need help. As a rule, people that are hurting, need help. As a rule. Isn't there some saying about rules...? Well, if there is a rule, these people didn't just break it, they obliterated it. Here are a few excerpts from letters that we have received recently:

"I am 60-years-old. Have lost almost everything. Things here in my part of the state are very depressed... I was growing food in a family garden until the water rate increase stopped that. Please do not think I am depressed over my plight I am still alive, and as such, I tell people you can only be two things when asked If I am okay. You can only be good or dead and as long as I am breathing, I still have an opportunity to shake the world." - Stephen


"Although my mortgage isn't "under water" I feel as though I am, fighting the heavy weight of being financially vulnerable. Two years ago, I thought I had made all the right choices, selling my home to buy a smaller/fixer with a more affordable payment and put some of the proceeds in the market for retirement, etc. Then everything changed and I too am stuck in my head, worrying about the unpredictable future, feeling like somehow I failed and that my feet are stuck in concrete waiting for "things to be the way they were before." That psychological place drains hope and motivation. The limited finances harden the cement for fear of spending unwisely... At some point it becomes a silly mental spin cycle reminiscent of an old saying "worry is like a rocking horse, something to do that will get you nowhere". So I have decided to put that horse out to pasture and ask what can I do to help." - Roxanne


"I'm 42, was laid off in Dec. 2008 from an executive position... I also owned a flight school (my passion) that I had to close in 2009 and have recently lost my house to foreclosure. So, boohoo for me. Just add my name to the millions of others... I certainly have plenty of time to help... I'd like to start a chapter..." - Julia

These are just excerpts from three letters. Three. We have hundreds of letters like these. Stories of pain and anguish and sorrow. Stories of hardship and fear. Stories of people that have lost almost everything.

I say almost, because these amazing people have not lost everything. Not even close.