In a time where apathy, irresponsibility and selfishness are plaguing entire nations, one brave young woman had an idea. The vision is that individuals and organizations everywhere will focus their milestone birthdays and anniversaries on serving others and becoming civically engaged leaders of the world. Through brainstorming, strategic planning and guidance, 21 Days of Love acts as a conduit for people to work passionately on important causes.
21 Days of Love was conceptualized on October 19th, 2014. Lorae V. Bonamy was in the process of planning her 21st birthday the way any normal person would; she wanted to have music, dancing, food and drinks to celebrate this “milestone”. For some reason, none of her plans would work; everything was too expensive or already booked, in short, this birthday party was not happening.
On October 19th, Lorae was at a worship service in Philadelphia and heard a sermon entitled “Crossing Lines”, and this rekindled the fire that was dying inside of her. The message was to step across invisible barriers to engage with people whether their social status was higher or lower than yours, because the great commission is for all people. For the next few hours, Lorae began vision work in her journal, doodling and scribbling ideas of how she would make this work. From the beginning, the name was 21 Days of Love, and the vision was to “have 21 bags of 21 items and give them to 21 people over the course of 21 days”; obviously linked to her 21st birthday.
People heard the vision and began to ask how they could support her. Through online crowdfunding, she raised $500 and she received at least $300 cash. At the 21 Days of Love Kickoff Benefit Concert, hundreds of item donations were received and then the real work began. With the help of everyone who supported the vision, Lorae achieved what she set out to do. Over 50 love packages were given out, and people were grateful to receive them. 21 Days of Love also included a Prayer Walk, an Educational Workshop and serving on Christmas Day at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission; it was her desire to look at homelessness educationally, practically and spiritually.
In an interview for the Philadelphia Daily News, Lorae explained that she wanted 21 Days of Love to be something that all 20 year olds would have the chance to do. 21 Days of Love was a life-changing experience for Lorae because it enabled her to walk into adulthood with knowledge of what was important to her and what she would do about it. Lorae decided that 21 Days of Love would not just be something that she did for her 21st birthday, but every birthday after that.
Lorae Valencia Bonamy is 23 years old, and she is pursuing her Master of Science degree in Higher Education Counseling & Student Affairs at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Lorae has a heart for people and a desire to serve them for the rest of her life..
Lorae founded 21 Days of Love as a response to the selfishness and apathy that currently exist in the world, and it began as a personal way to commemorate her 21st birthday.
"It broke my heart to see people have such a disregard for other people. Yes, maybe my money wouldn't be used for food, but what if it was? Why not give the benefit of the doubt? I always felt that if I had it, I should give it. I could not be concerned with whether the money was used for drugs or food, because I could not always see that far. Yes, I would hate to support substance use disorders, but I would also hate to leave someone hungry because of my own skepticism.
In planning my 21st birthday party, I was trying to do something normal and regular, a fun event with people I love celebrating my life. For some reason, things just would not work out. People wouldn't answer my calls or return my emails, things were too expensive and time was winding down. I felt like I was hitting dead end after dead end, and I was ready to call it quits.
Then, maybe two days later, I had an epiphany. It went something like this: "Who am I to have such a grand event?" "What did I do so worthy of celebration?" "Why am I so concerned with me?"
I decided that this was perfect timing to do something for someone else. It is my 21st birthday, and people usually celebrate that."Let me use this moment to shift the attention to someone who needs it more than me."
I felt privileged to be where I was at 21 years old, and I believed that because I was there, it was my duty to help someone else. I didn't have money; all I had was a strong desire to serve, and I set out to do just that.
I started 21 Days of Love as a personal birthday campaign. It was a way for me to commemorate my birthday with the help of my family and friends. It grew to an unbelievable size, and perfect strangers were calling me to support. That's when I realized the impact that this movement could have on our society, so we re-vamped a few things and thus was birthed 21 Days of Love: Practical-Intentional-Radical.
Word of 21 Days of Love spread rapidly and it grew to be something Lorae did not imagine in her wildest dreams.
Find out more about her at loraebonamy.com