Note – Michelle McLeod is a committee member for the Collier Coalition for Healthy Minds. This is an unsolicited note Michelle received from a resident in Bayshore.
Who is invisible to you?
When we see painful things, or people we are unsure of, they can become invisible.
Take our homeless population, it is so easy to close our eyes to a homeless person.
Is that person panhandling really homeless?
If I give someone money, will they just spend it on drugs or alcohol?
Our unsureness is a green light to create an invisible shield around these people.
They are people, we must remember that.
I had a situation that I would like to share with you, so that you may lift the invisible shield, ask questions, look towards qualified resources to help those who in this present moment, for a variety of reasons, can no longer help themselves.
My husband and I walk the main road outside our neighborhood a few times a week. There has been a homeless gentleman who sits on the bus stop bench every day. There is a make shift “bed” behind the bushes next to the bench, this is where he spends his nights.
Every time we walked by and said hello, he would say hello, he never asked for a handout. Week after week, we saw this gentleman. We did not know if he had mental illness, addictions, or he just fell on hard times. We were unsure how to approach him, or if it was even safe to do so. What we did know is that our hearts were breaking for him and we had to try to help.
We have a very good, very connected county commissioner in our district, Michelle McLeod. She is always responsive, she actually calls you to hear your opinion. I reached out to her via email about our homeless gentleman. I made it clear he was not a nuisance, the police did not need to get involved, we just wanted to see what resources our county had available to help him. She immediately reached out to the homeless coalition who called me the same day as I wrote the email. I talked with Frank, told him what I knew about this man, and Frank said he would go into work early the next day so he could drive by and hopefully talk with him.
Michelle called me the following day to ensure me everyone was doing what they could to help. I talked with Frank a few days later who said he had spoken to this man and was keeping an eye on him.
A few weeks later my husband and I gave this man a gift certificate to a restaurant on the same street as the bus stop. We talked to him – he had been hit by a truck about 8 months ago and was in the hospital for 66 days. His name is Mike. He was embarrassed by his looks. He felt he was not good enough to sit outside at this restaurant. We told him he looked fine (and he did), but he could also walk up and order take out if he felt more comfortable.
Our daughter is a social worker who had worked at TMH where she was involved with a number of homeless cases. She advised that we could help him by getting Mike underwear, socks, T-Shirts, etc.
Here is where the Divine Timing comes in:
On Saturday I went to Walmart and purchased those items along with a toothbrush & tooth paste and some snacks. My husband got in his car and drove by his bus stop, but Mike was not there.
On Sunday, (Palm Sunday), we grabbed the Walmart bags and took our morning walk. Mike was not there on our way out. On our way back we saw him sitting on his bench. As we were about 10 feet from him a large, new truck pulled up, rolled down the window and called Mike over to talk.
My mom instincts went up – who was this person, friend or foe? We waited a minute or two, then Mike was grabbing the doorhandle of the truck. My husband stepped up and said, Mike wait, we have something for you. We handed him the bags and looked into the truck where an “earth angel” young man was sitting in the drivers seat. He said: I am taking him to Integrity House, we are a church and we purchase homes to help people like Mike have a second chance. (www.integrityhouses.org) He then said Mike just said to me, “but I don’t have any clothes or food”, and then you two hand him what he needs.
Our hearts soared, tears formed in our eyes. “our Mike”, was going to sleep in a bed, he was going to be able to use a flushing toilet, things we take for granted. Mike was getting a second chance due to a chain of events that brought him out of the invisibleness of homelessness.
It was such divine timing that we were all there at the same time. We were able to give Mike what he felt he needed to be worthy of going to this house. We were able to learn about Integrity House and know where Mike went, rather than look for him day after day wondering what happened to him. What are the odds of that? Divine Timing.
We walked home with our hearts full. We want to share this story so you too can be part of change, however big or small your part is. People are good. Change can happen. Second chances are there for everyone.
Look everyone in the eye, smile at them. They are someone’s child, maybe someone’s mother or father, or brother or sister. They are someone.
The ripple affect is a very powerful thing.
Where will your ripple lead to?