For most, cold weather is setting in. Here in Nashville it went from 70 to 20 in less than a week. I hate cold. “Back in the day” when I was a teenager, I spent the better part of a year homeless, including part of a winter in Detroit. I HATE the cold with a passion. Consequently, whenever nasty weather comes knocking, I can’t help but feeling a particular empathy for those who are trying to survive on the street. It’s hard enough when you’re homeless in pleasant conditions. When it’s frigid, windy, wet and dark it’s almost impossible.
Since retirement, I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer at a couple non-profits including The Contributor, an award winning newspaper sold with dignity by our neighbors climbing out of homelessness. It’s been great have a regular connection with their clientele (Vendors), many of whom have been able to eke out a living and even find housing. Each has their own story and their own style. I also keep a stash of dollars and sometimes CarePaks in my Jeep to give out to the homeless I encounter along the way.
A regular at the highway exit to our home is Jimmy G. Over the last couple months, I’ve gotten to know him a bit. His poignant sign became indelibly etched into my memory. In the wake of the Covid challenges, political controversy, gratuitous entitlement, economic upheaval… his simple message rang so true. Anything is a Blessing.
Anything… indeed everything IS a blessing. We are not entitled to the many blessings we bask in and so easily take for granted. His sign reminds me personally not only of where I came from also of the abundance I enjoy on a daily basis.
A little about Jimmy G: He’s been homeless since April this year, enduring his first winter on the streets. Jimmy used to work as an electrician, have a comfortable homestead and drive a late model Ford. Then he lost his job, his car died and he ended up without a place to live. His new residence now consists of a tent hidden in the trees and underbrush nearby the exit.
I asked Jimmy what he thinks most people don’t understand about being homeless. He remarked that many folks think the answer is to just get a job. As many motorists have shouted the equivalent as they have passed by; “just get a job loser!”
Jimmy is willing and wanting to work; as an electrician or at odd jobs that come his way. In fact, he mentions that the Cracker Barrel 100 yards from his exit is hiring. However, without even a place to take a shower or change into suitable clothing and without an address to report on an employment application, the options are limited.
At this point, Jimmy is hoping that when the Covid crisis gets resolved, he will be able to return to his chosen profession and rebuild his life. Until then, he waits faithfully at exit 219 in hopes of earning his daily bread.
Would you help Jimmy survive this difficult winter? Please consider sending him a cash gift this holiday season via Venmo @Jimmy-Gravitt-1