I was asked by Patch if I would share more of my story volunteering at the NMCC Beacon of Hope Relief Distribution Center in Hazlet. Well here it goes, I call it The Journey of a Thousand Hugs.
My volunteering at the NMCC Beacon of Hope began on Friday, Nov 9th, but my journey began many years sooner. I had always been someone who liked to hug and believed in the power of hugs. Heck many years earlier, it was hugs that had changed my relationship with my father that went from one where we couldn't sit in the same room for more that a couple of hours without arguing or fighting to one where today we are more close than ever and rarely argue or fight and he reminds me of "where's my hug?" should I try to run out in hurry.
So, knowing this and my belief in that everyone needs 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 for maintenance and 12 for growth, I decided to spread some hugs around. It all began after of couple of hectic and long days where I started to hug the volunteers I referred to as "repeat offenders." These were the folks who were there more than one time. And since I worked security at the door, I figured it was a good way of saying thank you and asking God to bless them for their help.
So, now it's Friday, Nov. 16, and after a week, I got this crazy ide in my head from a video I saw on the Free Hugs Campaign. I decided that this day, I would wear a sign around my neck while I worked the door that said FREE HUGS! and AMBRAZOS GRATIS! on the flip side. Well, this launched the journey of a thousand hugs that has forever changed my life.
That first day, I stopped counting at 300 hugs. I hugged somewhere between 300-500 total strangers who were suffering. I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Not in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would experience the day I did. That day I had over 25 people who just began to sob in my arms. Literally hundred told me how much they need a hug and hundreds more clung to me so tightly as if for dear life. And still countless more walked away with just a smile or a giggle but always a warmed heart and even those that did not take me up on my hug smiled or laughed about the offer.
I continued my hugs campaign for a few more day where I easily hugged over 1000 total strangers. I was an equal opportunity hugger. I did not care as long as you were a person who need a hug. Now I must admit, this did not come without it's challenges for me. Like most people, while I may hug more than the average person, my tendency like most people was to hug people I know and like and with whom I feel comfortable. Well, trust me when I tell you, there were some people with whom I felt less than comfortable. But you know what, I think they were some of the most important hugs I gave those days.
Anyway, this Nov. 16, 2012 forever changed my life. I will never be the same person. My belief in hugs has grown even stronger today that ever before. I witnessed first hand how a hug and heal someone. I urge my fellow neighbors to take a moment and consider hugging a stranger. You never know, it just may change your life.
Andrew Kurywczak - The Energy Mizer
West Long Branch, NJ