If I had not seen it firsthand I would never have believed it . . . the miraculous work of Rand and Colleen Southard in transforming the lives of many abused, abandoned, and severely learning disabled children through the residential treatment facility they founded and operated for many years. Most of the children came to them as wards of the state, hopeless cases by our standards but not to Rand and Colleen. Many arrived angry, frightened and untrusting of anyone. Few had ever experienced knowing where their next meal would come from and would often stuff mashed potatoes into their pockets. But Rand and Coleen provided these children something even more essential than mere basic food and shelter. They gave them love, loving them as their own. And it was through that love that their lives were transformed, many becoming productive adults.
If I had not heard it firsthand with my own ears neither would I have believed the miraculous work of Lanell Armstrong, the pretty blond middle-class housewife who convinced her husband and children to abandon their comfortable lifestyle and move into an east Dallas barrio inhabited by guns, gangs and drugs where she brings children into her own home, feeds, encourages and loves them, saving them from the fate of their environment. And it is through her deep passion and fearless dedication to the children within that neighborhood that lives have been transformed and many have become model productive citizens.
If I had not witnessed firsthand the miraculous works of my friends Lanell, Rand and Colleen I would probably have written off the new movie, “The Blind Side” starring Sandra Bullock as just another Hollywood embellishment created to sell tickets. But embellished or not, “The Blind Side” is no fairytale. Based on a true story it is about an upper middle-class family taking in a homeless street kid and transforming his life. (I’ll leave it to you to see the movie.) I would not have believed it myself except that I’ve witnessed similar stories firsthand through the courage, compassion, and selfless love of people like Lanell, Rand and Colleen. Their lives make a difference – and so do ours if we will do even a fraction of what they do.