I had never seen him before, and haven’t seen him since.
It was a chilly evening, one of the few we’ve had this winter, when a stranger walked into the Lighthouse. I was assisting at the Community Kitchen where a free hot meal is served twice a week to anyone who wants to attend.
Most who come in head straight for the food line. They’re hungry. Buddy just took a seat by himself, prompting me to approach him and offer a bowl of soup. “No thanks,” he said with a forced smile. I’m just warming up.
“Can I get you a coffee, at least?”, I offered.
“No, thank you very much, but I’m good”, he said, obviously reluctant to take a freebie.
When several minutes passed, I approached him again. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like something to eat, my man?”
Looking up from his seat, he said, “No, but I could sure use someone to talk to. Would you sit with me for a few minutes?”
I took a seat and listened as Buddy opened up, clearly feeling like he needed to explain how someone like him had come to be here. He told me how he had never been unemployed a day in his life, until recently, when the economy took a sudden downturn and jobs in his line of work began to dry up. He had worked hard all of his life. He’d raised a beautiful daughter whom he had supported through university. She was on the home stretch to earning her undergrad degree. He had come here by bus to visit her and while he was here he left the last dollar he had with his daughter. Here he was, tired, broke, with no way to get home. The man had hit his rock bottom. I couldn’t offer much other than the opportunity to connect with another human being during a difficult time, and some encouragement about the future Buddy had helped his daughter create. Fortunately, the Lighthouse could offer him a warm meal (which he eventually accepted) and a place to lay his head. That’s not a bad place to start when one is at their rock bottom.
Places like the Lighthouse, and the Bridge specialize in helping people make a fresh start at a healthy life. There are many reasons people might find themselves there and it’s important that they get the help they need when they arrive. I’m glad they’re here helping people in our community.
That’s why we’re participating in the “Coldest Night of the Year” walk to raise funds for this much needed organization. If you have a few bucks that you’d like to contribute, I’d appreciate it, and so would men and women like Buddy who just happen to have hit a rough spot.
If you'd like to throw a little cash toward this much needed fundraiser, please click hereand donate.
Many thanks, Norm Fisher