By Danielle Ozbat
After Chris and Stacy Lane’s 18-year-old son, Dakota, was shot and killed last March, the couple decided to turn their grief into something positive by dedicating their lives to helping the less fortunate.
“We really decided at that point instead of focusing on the
tragedy and all the bad stuff to really celebrate his life,” Chris Lane said, “and we made this mission, as far as community organizing, our laser focus.”
The couple started Guardians, a non-profit charity that provides resources for the homeless in Chesterfield County, and last week, they were joined by employees from Dominion Virginia Power at a ‘Farm to Tent’ event. The Lanes (who were once homeless) and the volunteers’ mission for the day was to build a compost system for their organic gardens that will eventually feed the poor.
According to Kimberly Ohrum, a Dominion employee and volunteer, there has already been a harvest this year and they were able to feed 200 people. Ohrum found out about the Guardians when she saw a story about the Lanes on television and organized the event.
“I actually watched a broadcast … earlier in the year that featured Chris Lane and the [Guardians],” Ohrum said, “and after I watched that interview, I felt very compelled to contact Chris and see what … I could do to assist.”
Ohrum, who used to be homeless, said next year’s goal is to be able to feed 500 to 700 people and that they eventually hope to have multiple greenhouses so they can plant fruits and vegetables year round. For their last harvest, they planted tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, watermelon, cucumbers, onions and cantaloupe; everything the Guardians and their volunteers plant is organic, of which Chris Lane is an avid advocate.
“If you look at some of the underlying symptoms of processed food and sugars,
kids aren’t getting good sleep, they’re not focused in school, [and] their system is completely out of whack,” Lane said. “I’ve seen the positive results through our daughter … we changed her diet completely to fresh organic produce … [and] it was life changing. The families and kids in these impoverished communities … don’t have access to fresh organic produce and when they start getting that in their system and filtering out some of the bad stuff, it’s just amazing to see that change. They just have a different glow about them.”
In addition to providing the homeless with organic produce, Stacy Lane said they have a backpack program (for children who are on the free and reduced lunch program) and they hope to have an after school program for children who cannot afford tutoring.
Lane said there are also plans to update the property, which they refer to as the Hope (Helping Others Positively Evolve) Center: there is a library with computers that the homeless can use to apply for jobs or look for information about housing, a mail center so that they can have a physical address, and shower facilities in case they need to clean up.
“Everybody needs just a little bit of hope and if you get that little bit of hope, it just changes your life, and we feel like we’ve been blessed with this center here in order to do that,” Lane said.
“I see [it being a place that] people [can run] around and kids [can have] fun and [find] a place they can go [to] that they can feel love, they can just be free and do what they want to do in a safe environment.”
For Lane’s husband, he said he was excited to have the support of Dominion volunteers and the community to aid in the Guardians’ continued mission to provide for the homeless.
“Our mission is to love, serve, protect and inspire, [and] our goal is to truly give people Chris and Stacy Lane.a hand up, teach them how to fish and see them get into the fight with us,” Lane said. “It’s basically about community organizing, one person in the community at a time.”