About 2 years ago, I was walking around the parking lot of one of the office buildings I am involved in leasing in Elk Grove and I noticed a strange car parked in one of the spaces. It looked like it may have been abandoned so I took a picture of it and tagged it for towing.
That same afternoon I received a call from one of my Tenants who told me the car had been parked at the same spot for about a week and that she thought someone was living in it. I told her I had tagged it and would be towing it in the next day or so. The next morning I received another call from the Tenant and she told me the owner of the car was in the car, so I drove to the building to confront the owner. I never suspected what was about to happen would have such a profound effect on me and several others that got pulled into this situation......
I yelled out to the car owner as I approached the car, but no answer...I thought maybe he had earbuds on and could not hear me so I walked around the front of the car and he finally saw me and got out of the vehicle. I started talking to him, and he stood there, listening to me, but I was not sure he was comprehending what I was saying. After I explained that he had to move his car or it would be towed, he moved closer...I noticed he looked about 30-35, dark hair, slight build, clean cut, and as he started to talk I noticed he had a speech impediment.
His name is Andy, and as it turns out, he is deaf. He told me the car was the only thing he owned and that he had been living with his sister in a home in Galt, the next town to the South, but he found out she had been taking money out of a joint savings account (which represented all the money he had been able to save working a maintenance job over the last year). When he confronted her, she got mad and kicked him out of the house. I asked him if he had any other family locally, and he indicated he had a Mom that kicked him out of her house when he turned 18 and he never returned.
So here was this man named Andy, living in his car..abandoned by his own family, stuck in our parking lot. His car broke down in the lot and he had no money to fix it. Hopelessness. He had been walking about 2 miles each way to work every day. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, so I told him to wait a moment......I went into my leasing office and called a friend of mine, Marie, who happens to be the Executive Director of the Elk Grove Food Bank. I printed out information on the Food Bank and its services and brought the printout to Andy and asked him to call them, they might be able to help him with food, shelter and a way to get his car fixed.
What happened next amazed me and reinstilled my faith in humanity...Marie has a large network of friends, and within a day not only found an anonymous donor to commit the funds to get Andy's car running and get new tires on it, she also indicated in a call to me she had met Andy personally and immediately decided to take him under her wings and help him get back on his feet. The anonymous donor spent over $5,000 for a new engine and tires for Andy's car, he was put up in lodging, and was provided a ride to get to work and back each day. Another donor bought Andy two new hearing aids, worth about $2,000, which allowed him the hear well for the first time in his life.
To hear Marie explain her assistance afterwards, she said it wasn't a hand out...instead it was a hand up! Marie and all of Andy's donors are all heroes in my book!
Andy subsequently landed a better job, and moved into his own apartment after being homeless for almost 3 years! He also to this day volunteers at the food bank a couple of days a month. A couple of months ago, I recieved a call from Marie---she told me Andy wanted to have lunch with me, Marie and his donor/mentor, a very generous local resident who I won't name here. When Andy saw me, he came up to me, gave me a hug and a sincere "thanks" for helping him out that fateful day. We had a very enjoyable lunch and promised to do it again real soon....
Who would have imagined the time spent to listen to a stranger's seemingly hopeless situation and make one phone call for someone down on their luck could have such a profound positive effect on several lives? I didn't , but after that experience, I will never take for granted those that I come across in need...I sincerely believe compassion towards those less fortunate is a virtue......besides, one never knows when they will come across the next "Andy"!
Here is a link to the Food Bank blog article about Andy:
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