September 25, 2012

A Return on an Investment

"Please tell me that is not a ticket!" I exclaimed to Mike as we pulled up to my car. Beneath the windshield wiper rested a yellow piece of paper. I had left my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot when we went to Athens this weekend and we were just returning to pick it up.

Walking over to my car I realize that it is not a ticket, but a yellow legal pad piece of paper. As I unfold the note I see today’s date and my name. "Hellow, Are you ok? I saw your car here at Walmart. I was worried about you! That your car was here."

It turns out the a former client of mine for Union Mission saw my car parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot and was alarmed that something had happened to me. "You will never believe this," I say to Mike as I hand him the note to read.

I will never forget the first time I met him. He was full anger at the world and spared no emotions while sharing it with me. Previously he had some pretty string political views that he shared with the wrong people and ended up on the FBI watch list. He had lost his boat, his only source of income and where he lived. Any benefits that he tried to claim were denied and the flag on his identity made him unemployable. He was broken, hurt, and bitter. Over time he came to accept his faults in what had brought him to his desperation and I began to see him smile. He apologized over and over again to me for his angry outburst in the beginning.

He never knew that from the first day that he yelled at me I saw him walk away with tears in his eyes and a piece of my heart became his. It took a long time, but he did get some money that was rightly his and bought himself a jeep. I was the first person he stopped by to see after he purchased the vehicle.

Eventually he was back on track and no longer needed our services, but he would still stop in to see me. The man I met to the man he became was perhaps the greatest redemption story I have ever witnessed personally. I have not seen him since December 2011 when I stopped working at Union Mission, but he remains in my thoughts often.

"I go to church at the Assembly of God. Church next door to Walmart. I was sorry to hear that you left Union Mission. Ive been praying for you. I pray your ok, and your family. Please let me know you are ok! I invite you and your family to church," concluded his note.

When I worked in a youth mentoring program I always told our volunteer mentors that they may never know just how deeply they touched their mentee. Rarely do we see a return on what we invest.

The part of my heart he holds smiled in disbelief, thankfulness, wonderment..."Oh, don't worry I am ok....but thank you, thank you, thank you, for caring about me!" I would have never imagined this from the first time we met.

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