How many times have we passed someone on a street holding a sign, “Will Work For Food” or “Homeless–Help Me, or have even been approached by a peddler asking for change to help grab a burger to eat?
I think many of us have been a witness to this act at least once in our life–and for most of us we either turn our head, say no and keep walking, or just ignore them as a whole. Perhaps it is because we don’t believe they are truly homeless or we just don’t feel the need to help–something determines why and how we act towards them.
Several years ago my mother, who is amazing in herself, was walking out at the Seminary, (a Catholic Church) grounds where she walks her dogs (Kirby and Kita). One day during a walk she noticed a man who was in his car. She, unlike most of us approached him and asked him if he was alright. He told her his story.
He was homeless, just moved from California to Perryville. Was waiting on his retirement check, but was living out of his car. Mom left and could not get this man out of her mind. So she went home and grabbed some money–$100.00 and returned to the Seminary.
The man, who was elderly, remained in his car as my mother again approached his car and knocked on the window–he rolled it down and she handed him the $100 bill. He looked at her and said, “Thank you so much… I will pay you back…”
Mom didn’t care about the pay back and she knew that she would never see that money again, but it wasn’t about that–it was about helping out a stranger.
A year later a man came through my mother’s check out line at Roziers and a man looked at her and said, “Do you have 2 dogs and walk out at the church?” Mom replied, “Yep, that’s me…” He then replied, “Well you don’t remember me, but I was the guy you gave the $100.00 to when I was homeless.
She looked at him and said, “Oh!” “I remember you now…” The man then digs into his wallet and pulls out a $100.00 bill and hands it to my mom. My mom was like, you can keep it. The man was shocked, but over the next few months he would come through her line and they would chat a bit–he had found a home at an old retirement facility that was converted into efficiency apartments.
In the meantime, mom and the rest of the family were dealing with the ailing health of her mother, and my grandma. My grandma was put into a nursing facility because of her failing health–so her house was empty.
A storm came…
And the storm heavily damaged the apartment in which the man was staying–resulting in the building being condemned.
The man was homeless once again.
He came through the line where my mom worked and asked, “Do you know anywhere I can find a reasonable priced apartment?” Mom said no. But her mind was thinking.
She thought and thought… While the man was put up in a hotel by the American Red Cross, mom decided after discussing with my dad to let him live at my grandmas–my dad said no. That ended that thought.
A week later the man comes in again and still living in the motel–time was running out… Mom looked at him and said, “Here are the keys to my mom’s house…” She let him move in there. Paying a low rent.
My dad was not too happy and decided to go over and tell the man he had to move out… When he went over to the house–fully intending to kick him out–he knocked on the door and this little man opened the door–something changed.
My dad did not kick him out.
For the next 3 years the man lived in my grandma’s house–he reminded mom of her dad–he has no real family–and so mom felt compelled to help–and soon after so did my dad. They both kind of took care of him–by giving him a place to live– he took excellent care of the house and my grandma’s cats.
When my grandma died–we knew that the house would have to be sold–and so we put the house up for sale, and after another year–it was sold–the man would have to leave–so mom again helped him find a place to live–and told him he could have whatever he wanted in the house–still humbled he took very little.
He still comes through my mom’s line at work–he has a nice place to live–close to where my mom and him met some years before when he lived out of his car.
The story tells us that when we take a chance to help another person great things can happen. While the story of my mom and this man is a bit different–it is a story of working in the image of God as he said, “When I was homeless, you gave me a home…” “When I was hungry, you gave me food…” Mom did not expect anything in return and I can’t help but to think that it was God’s way of testing my parents–I think they passed.
It is hard not to judge, but I will admit, I have questioned them before and somewhat still do, but when I sit at the light and I know they are outside my car window trying not to make eye contact–I realize–I have on nice clothes, a nice car, and a job–why not make a little sacrifice and give what I can.
Next time you see someone in need, remember they are one of God’s children and for some they have become a victim of our down turning economy and maybe just need one person to believe in them–Will that be you?