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If you met Rachel Crandall-Crocker today, it would be hard to believe there was a time when this outspoken transgender activist was afraid to raise her voice.

But in 1966, eight-year-old Rachel was terrified to speak her truth. That’s because, even at a young age, Rachel understood that coming out as transgender could be dangerous.

Back then, society was even more hostile towards trans people, and there were very few (if any) resources for the transgender community — especially in Michigan, where Rachel grew up.


At first, Rachel was hopeful that her parents might accept her. But their response was devastating.

“Their reaction was, ‘I never want you to say that out loud ever again,’” Rachel told a crowd in Grand Rapids last April. They told her that being transgender was one of the worst and “dirtiest” things a person could be, shattering her self-esteem for decades to come.

[rebelmouse-image 19397902 dam="1" original_size="803x437" caption="Photo via YouTube." expand=1]Photo via YouTube.

Faced with this stark reality, Rachel made a devastating choice: to keep herself safe, she stayed in the closet. And all the while, she held onto that first reaction from her parents and struggled with shame and self-hatred.

“A lot of [trans people] were so lonely, isolated,” she explained last April. “A lot of us were killing ourselves, honestly.”

But Rachel couldn’t hide from herself forever. As she got older, she started dressing like a woman in secret, testing the waters. And when she began leaving the house dressed this way, she finally realized she could no longer live a lie.

Rachel came out again in 1994, and she emerged not only as the woman she had been all along, but as an unstoppable advocate for her community.

She wanted to make the world better for others like her, who’d struggled in silence for too long.

That’s why, in 1997, she founded Transgender Michigan. She wanted to create an organization that empowered transgender people, and let them know they weren’t alone.

Photo via Rachel Crandall-Crocker.

The organization has grown immensely since its founding. It offers trainings around gender diversity and education for cisgender and transgender people alike, with local chapters across the state bringing communities together. It also has a helpline for trans people — the very first in the United States — offering support for those in crisis.

In 2009, her organization even gained international recognition when Rachel founded Transgender Day of Visibility.

Up until that point, “Transgender Day of Remembrance” was one of the only days that trans people recognized, but it only honored trans people who had died. Rachel saw a need to create an event that also celebrated those who were living, bringing trans people together and inspiring hope.

Transgender Day of Visibility began with a simple Facebook post, but Rachel’s idea spread like wildfire, far beyond what she could have imagined. And now, the annual event is now celebrated worldwide, in countries as far away as Vietnam and Scotland. It marks a critical moment for trans people everywhere to honor the resilience of leaders like Rachel, while affirming for the next generation of trans youth that they aren’t alone.

At a time when transgender people had little support, Rachel stepped forward and blazed a trail.

Her accomplishments have felt even more meaningful to Rachel because, as someone with Tourette syndrome, she was often told she wouldn't achieve much in life.

So Rachel’s story is an important reminder that every one of us can make an impact.

“I hear a lot of people tell me that one person cannot make a difference,” she said. “You are wrong… one person CAN make a difference.”

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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This article originally appeared on 08.05.21


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