Easy? No. Worth it? Absolutely.
Michigan is COLD. I was born and raised here, have lived all over, but came back. I heart MI. I take the same route to work every day and for the past four months or so I saw a man standing on the corner of the highway and another major road. Every single day. This man wears a suit and an American Flag tie. When I had cash, I stopped and gave it to him. One Thursday in October, I was driving home and I hadn’t seen this man all week. I was oddly concerned for him, even though I didn’t know him. Not unless you count the random encounters here and there as knowing someone. That whole week, I had the overwhelming need to stop and talk to him. But he wasn’t there, so I couldn’t. Part of me was glad he wasn’t out because I was a little scared. I was about one mile from where he normally stood and stuck in traffic. I turned up the radio to try and drown out my thoughts when the oddest thing happened. “My Own Little World” by Matthew West came on. I had never heard this song before, but the lyrics made me stop dead in my tracks. How incredibly ironic. I was just contemplating helping someone and this song came on. And sure enough, he was standing outside.
Right then, I knew I had to stop and talk to him. That was my purpose of that day. I didn’t have any cash on me, so I went to a nearby ATM, got 20 bucks out and pulled into the parking lot behind where he stood. I stopped my car and rolled down the window. He was so happy to have someone to talk to. I simply asked him what would help him the most. He replied with “bread or canned foods”. Right then I decided to organize a food drive for him through a church group I started called GoFish. Since I had done plenty of online fundraising and goods-raising, I asked him if I could take a picture so it would be easier to raise the items necessary. He was a bit hesitant because he said he wasn’t very photogenic, but he complied.
A few friends and I started promoting this cause and asking for canned food donations. We did the canned food drive for a few weeks and raised more than $1,000 worth of canned goods, toiletries, and meat.
I also started a fund-raiser online in hopes of taking him grocery shopping for fresh produce, milk, and other necessities. After getting to know Bob better, he told me that he was two months behind in rent and also behind in utilities and becoming homeless was a real possibility. Through the funds we raised and with the help of Common Ground, we were able to pay all of his debt. The VA will be helping Bob going forward and the efforts of complete strangers helped this man and his father from becoming homeless. What an amazing inspiration to those who think they can’t make a difference. One conversation. One song. One person can spread a contagious disease called Hope.