T* was leaning, propped up against our new cabinetry in the conference room, helping me sort some canned goods and organize the new food pantry.
“This was my baby’s first Christmas. Her mother and I went to her family’s house and when I walked inside,” he paused, in a way that I was bracing myself for the rest of his sentence, as if searching for the right words, “everyone was happy to see me.
“People shouted ‘Hey, T!’ when I walked in the door. I’ve never had a Christmas like that. I’ve never been to a Christmas where everyone was happy to see me. My girl even got me this outfit.” He motioned to the fashionable track suit he was wearing. “She didn’t have to do that. I wasn’t expecting anything like that. It was awesome.”
T had been volunteering with us all day. I saw him rolling up socks to pass out in the hall when I first came in. He’d helped us clean up after lunch. He went to service for the first time, saying “I think I really need to hear these words today”. He had the true spirit of Christmas all about him. Just a few days earlier, he had sat, cutting paper snowflakes with Alyssa’s children in the same conference room to paste to all of the goody bags we were handing out to community members as a little bit of holiday cheer.
Earlier, on this same day, our friend, Boomer* had gotten a phone call from his niece who really needed him to come home and help her out, as she had recently become disabled with mobility issues. Boomer had only been with us for about a month, but in that time he had volunteered daily, washing dishes, helping us close the center, and singing for us during church service. He has a beautiful voice.
We were more than happy to get Boomer a ticket back to Houston, back to a family and a home. When we get to do that, it’s a big win for us. One more person has found their way indoors with people who care about them. We’ll miss Boomer’s voice, his sweetness and his kindness to others, but we’re so happy to know that someone is out there who missed and needed him.
Boomer had only one problem, he didn’t know his way to the Greyhound station. T offered to show him where to go, and we parted ways for the day with lots of hugs and well wishes.
The next day when we arrived to open the Center, our friend Sawyer* asked if Pastor Hugh was around because he had a video for him. We crowded around Sawyer’s phone to watch a video of T and Boomer at the bus station. T had not only taken him there, but had stayed with him all night to make sure he got on the right bus because Boomer’s sight isn’t so good.
They had made a series of short videos throughout the night and next morning, and sent them to various friends at the center to let everyone know that they were okay. Here they were, an elderly white man with a fierce country accent, and a tall, young black man, singing together on video in the bus station. They exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch.
Boomer called us today to let us know that he arrived home safely. T stopped by, and we thanked him for helping Boomer out, but furthermore, going that extra mile to make sure he was safe in a place that he was unfamiliar with. We’ve watched T grow into a loving, caring young man who is doing everything he can to be a good father to a little baby girl, and a good friend to others. That’s the “Love Wins” effect. This week we saw love, and we definitely got a win.