Friday, October 16, 2009

Gratitude Week Day 4

This morning, the last day of Gratitude Week, actress Helen Shaver shares her thoughts about addiction and homelessness and how we are all connected.

And to second what Helen said, here is my story of how we are connected:

19 years ago, before my husband Peter and I were even engaged, we were walking down Robson Street, a trendy shopping district here in Vancouver to meet a friend of mine for dinner.

Along the way, there was this homeless guy coming towards us, weaving badly, reeking of booze and filthy. I cut him a wide path and kept walking and talking to Peter. I was half way down the block before I realized he was no longer with me and I was talking to myself.

I turned around to see where I'd lost him just in time to watch him clap the homeless guy on the back with a big smile on his face and ask him how he was doing. I stood there watching them talk and then as Pete emptied his pockets and gave the guy all the money he had on him. They said their goodbyes and Peter jogged to catch up with me.

It turns out that this homeless guy was his elementary school friend, Randy. He'd known this guy since Kindergarten. It really struck me that even though this guy was obviously so down and out, Peter just saw his friend underneath all that and treated him as if nothing were wrong. In that moment, Peter showed me the sheer kindness of his heart, his loyalty and compassion-all the content of his character and I knew that this was the man I was going to marry.

Years later, my husband ran into Randy's brother by chance and learned that Randy had lost his legs in a train accident (I believe he'd taken to riding the rails and got hurt doing it.) and later on, after years of addiction, passed away. My husband explained to Randy's brother about the day he'd last seen him and how throughout our marriage we'd always said that Randy was our raggedy angel and thought of him often, as he was the reason I'd married my husband.

Randy's brother was almost in tears because it meant so much to him to know his brother whose life had never been what his family envisioned for him had deeply touched and affected ours. Randy's life had had meaning and purpose that his brother had never been aware of before. I think it changed the way he thought about his brother and that was able to happen because someone stopped and looked Randy in the eyes and validated him as a human being.

I usually share this story with someone to illustrate what a beautiful a soul my husband has, but I share it today to let you all know that each and every person out there on the street, whether by cruel twist of fate or by choice belongs to someone, somewhere. The pain of being homeless is not limited to that single person on the street. These people are not worthless pieces of garbage lying on the curb. They are human beings and they need a hand up, not a handout.

So if you're like me and are tired of waiting around for someone else to do something about the problem, if anything my friends or I have said here on my blog this week has touched you in any way, please go the the Gratitude Week website and donate $1. Just ONE dollar. That's it. Economic times be damned-we can all afford that $1. It's nothing by itself, but together we're going to transform people's lives. That's the power of $1.

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