I do a lot of talkin’. It’s what I do. This past month I was blown away by something I saw. I’d like to call her the Angel Lady. Then I discovered there were two. An Angel Lady times two. Changing the lives of a community-in-need and specifically one man in need. Please welcome a local young woman as my guest writer this week. I asked her to share her story, and I’m sure glad she agreed. In these dark times, kindness is such a rare gift. Introducing Sheala McLeod and her dear friend Penny and their story of hope, love, and compassion.
Penny and I bonded over our mutual hatred of the vast amount of wasted food in the restaurant industry. It was disheartening to throw away full meals when ten steps in front of the restaurant someone was begging for food on the street. As a solution, we began to package all of the untouched food our customers left behind. We would bring it to the tent city at the end of our shift. However, 2 homeless people, in particular, would get first dibs on all of the food. Dean and Dougie.
Dean and Dougie share the corner of Charlotte and Water, a corner known around town as “Dougie’s Corner.” However, most days, you would only find Dean sitting there. Penny and I taught the rest of the servers to save untouched food and bring it to the homeless, but it felt like we weren’t doing enough for our resident street guest.
Penny and I are inseparable. Every morning we go for coffee and drive around the city. Last week we were doing what we always do, dancing like idiots, drinking coffee, and driving around when we passed “Dougie’s Corner” and saw our buddy Dean panhandling. At first, we reach for our wallets and scrambling to find change before we ran out of time, but looking at Dean, it was clear that he didn’t need change, he needed a change of clothes. This was especially evident when he stood up, and we noticed he had holes all throughout his pants, and the butt was almost entirely missing. Knowing how frigid our winters are, I pointed out his pants to Penny. I asked the simple question, “Should we take him shopping?” to which Penny ecstatically responded, “Absolutely!”
We pulled over and asked Dean if he would like us to take him shopping; he responded sweetly, “That would be great, thank you.” We let him in the car, passed him a smoke and headed for Talize, stopping quickly for some McDonald’s and hot coffee. On our drive, we bonded with Dean. He shared insights into the reality of life on the streets and its clear he’s no different than anyone else. He had fallen into the wrong crowd at the wrong time. Shopping with Dean was easy. He wasn’t picky, he just wanted clothes that fit right and would keep him warm. We spent less than an hour in Talize and had completely filled a cart of items to keep Dean warm this winter. The last thing we needed to get Dean was proper winter boots as his were full of holes, let water in and caused his feet to freeze. Knowing that sometimes Dean would sleep outside and seeing the snow on the ground, we knew this wasn’t an item to get second hand. Luckily, Canadian Tire falls right beside Talize, so it was only a short trip over. We bought Dean proper winter boots, good up to -35 degrees, and water wicking socks to keep his feet warm. That was the end of our shopping trip, but the beginning of a great friendship with Dean.
When we dropped Dean off, we told him he could come into the restaurant at any time to get a warm meal, or if he just wanted to talk. Two days later, in fact, he visited me at the restaurant for some lunch and to let me know some fantastic news. Dean was able to get his old job back labouring, now that he had proper clothes. I was elated! Penny was too, our simple act of kindness presented Dean with the possibility of improving his life significantly!
That’s our story! We helped out a person in need, gained a friend, and had a positive impact on someone’s life. If you ask me that is the best gift someone could give.
Article title by Bruce Law
Special guest writer:
Bruce in the City crew
Blogger: Bruce Christopher
Editor & Publicist: Bruce Law
Hair by: Nick Folco