‘Giving A Lift’: Author’s documentary shares importance of kindness
WOODSTOCK – Jason F. Wright’s father taught him at a young age to appreciate people from all walks of life. The local author is putting that into practice in his “Giving A Lift” project.
Wright, 47, picks up hitchhikers and homeless individuals who need a ride. Usually, it’s not far – to the next gas station or truck stop. He does it for many reasons but most importantly to simply hear their stories because, as he said, everyone has a story they want to tell.
“There’s an intimacy in connection,” Wright said. “Just because someone looks different or sounds different, doesn’t mean they don’t have a story to share.”
For many of those Wright encounters, their lives are weighing heavily on their shoulders – both figuratively and physically. Many of them will stand out for hours with their thumbs out, Wright said, waiting for a passerby to come to their aid. He said he’s seen and heard horror stories of trash being thrown or profanity yelled at the hitchhikers.
“I’ve heard so many heart-breaking, tragic stories over the years,” he said. “And, yes I’ve shed tears right beside them.”
Wright picks up his passengers in the most curious locations.
“Sometimes I can be driving to the grocery store or to Harrisonburg,” he said. “And other times I just make time.”
He always remembers to text or calls his wife to let her know he has a passenger. “She’s told me a few times that she trusts God will take care of me.”
Those Wright has encountered over the years are from all walks of life. He’s met people from New York, Florida, Ohio, and Texas who were veterans, domestic abuse survivors, or mentally abused. He once came across a man who was hitchhiking to get to a funeral, while another one admitted he had a drug problem and used wandering across the country back to his wife as an opportunity to get clean. Wright also has picked up local individuals living in Woodstock and Mount Jackson.
Wright doesn’t recall the exact moment he began the project, as he said he’s always helped individuals in need. But he does remember the first time he began recording the conversations he shared with his passengers.
“It started with a young couple,” he said. “They were hitchhiking and just needed a ride. So I picked them up. We began talking and I asked if I could record their story.”
After that, Wright decided he would start recording his conversations and then share them with his followers on Facebook.
The response, he said, was overwhelming.
Wright has given rides to over 100 individuals since the project’s inception. He has no plans to stop. “The Spirit tells me to do it,” Wright said. “So I do it. I learn something every time.”
Wright said he’s learned a few valuable lessons along his journey, noting that “we’re more alike than we realize,” “we don’t take the necessary time to talk,” and “there’s so much you can learn from someone who might be out of your comfort zone.”
On March 15, Wright’s “Giving A Lift” project will be shown as a 90-minute documentary at a special screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to C-CAP in Winchester.
Wright said he hopes people will walk away from the screening a little kinder, and a lot less judgmental.
“Life is just too short,” he said. “A few minutes to listen to a story can make all the difference in the world.”
If YOU GO
When: 7 p.m. March 15.
Where: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 181 Kernstown Commons Boulevard, Winchester.
More info and tickets: https://tinyurl.com/y9r8f99a.