It couldn’t have been better. It came at a much needed time. The best call of my past 26 years of helping those in need. The Best Phone Call Ever.
For the last 26 years, i have had this talent of seeming to be able to just be able to tell innately that those i have helped are “ok”.
Except for one. There has been one on my mind since the day we met him back in 2008 in Knoxville, TN. A United States of America Navy Veteran who has been without a place to call home for over 15 years, roaming the streets of Knoxville, TN. Yep, lots to his story. The bottom line of his story though? I care deeply for him as a person as i do most of those we help. Yep, i said most.
Since September 19th, 2010 (which is happens to be my birthday) i have wondered if “James” was still alive. Last year on September 19th, 2010, i flew from St. Petersburg, FL to Knoxville, TN to take care of some much needed things for our disabled friend DONNA in Oak Ridge, TN along with see some of the others we help in Knoxville. ”James” is one of those.
James and i have been through a great deal together. My former boss had allowed me the privilege to hire James at his company. It provided James with a little money and me the extra one on one time i needed to try and influence James to Taking Back His Life. After time i had to let James go from that company, but we left friends/aquaintences. However, we still kept in contact with him, seeing him often in Knoxville.
The interaction with James was always intense. He is a brilliant man with numerous talents. He just had issues he needed to address and his and mine conversations addressed those issues on a number of occasions.
On one particular occasion, due to a confrontation James got into at a local business, was after i had dropped him off with his belongings in order for him to check into a motel. I headed down Chapman Highway back towards Knoxville, but something told me to go back, something told me things were going to get ugly. So, i pulled a u-turn and put the pedal to the floor heading back to the motel. They were not going to rent to him. Just as i had told him and he argued with me on.
With in seconds our Mobile crisis van was surrounded by 4 Sheriff Deputies. James was inside. Long long story short, the Sheriffs released James into my custody. They were going to take him to jail.
Again, James is close to my heart and this did not faze me as to how i felt about his possible future success. I would continue to try.
We rode together down Chapman Highway and i pulled into a Walmart parking lot. James and i sat there and talked for hours. James is a tough, tough individual. It was intense, very intense. James cried, he broke down and cried. To me…that was a major success. We were addressing very deep ugly issues within James. Things he feared and felt for years. It was not fun and it was not pretty. But it was.
Then, some months later, after not seeing James for some time, it was January. January 16th, 2009. Pat and i were leaving Knoxville, TN for Florida because we had lost our secular jobs, the very jobs which at the time funded our organization via our personal wages. Pat was being offered a position with her previous employer here in Largo, Fl. We had to take it or lose everything we had. We were in the Market Square Kitchen to say good bye to some of those in need we had helped. It was emotional. We did not want to move from Knoxville. It would be tougher to continue our work there although we do to this very day, this exact moment. As we arrived to meet our friends at the Market Square Kitchen, there sat James at an outside table, well dressed in his Penny Loafers as he likes to do, leather jacket and nice slacks and shirt. Keep in mind he is what we as a society call homeless. He is a USA Navy Veteran. He had heard from another that we were moving and he could come there to see us off……if he wanted to. Remember, our last talk was severely tough. Severely painful for James. However, evidently severely full of impact and meaning to him. I could have only hoped and prayed for that, which i did.
As Pat and i were getting ready to leave, after we had said our good byes to everyone and we were in our Mobile Crisis van, i had to give James something out of the van and so he met me at the side door of the Market Square Kitchen. As i handed James the item, he told me thanks for everything (tears now coming as i write this), “be careful” and hope to see you again soon…….then he floored me……………………………………..
He told me……………….”I Love You. Thank You. Really. I mean it”.
It took all i had to keep myself composed. I told him, I love you too James. I got into the van, waited for James to go out of site, turned to Patrica and fell apart. Bawled my eyes out! As Oprah puts it i did the “Ugly Cry” :-))!
Back to September 19th, 2010. So i had flown to Knoxville TN from St. Pete. One of the things on my list was to find James and see how he was. I found his “camp” in Knoxville where he slept at the time, but i could not find him. I am excellent at finding people i am looking for. I could not find James himself. I left a note at his camp site on my business card which he is very familiar with. I was in Knoxville for a few days. Nothing, heard nothing from James. I asked around at the other orgs in town but no one had seen him. Most of that reason is James never liked to access the Assistance World all that much. I never found him. I looked for hours on two different days. Nothing. It started to settle in me that the worst had happened. I could ALWAYS locate James, but not now. All i could think was he was dead.
I was horrified, on 9/19/2010, my birthday. Probably the worst birthday of my life. I figured James was laying dead somewhere after being beaten or something and i simply couldn’t find him. I have beat the hell out of myself every single day since that 9/19/2010 day/week not being able to locate him. I have asked people to look for me, put “feelers” out for him, continually emailed him hoping for a response, any response. I prayed and had conversation after conversation with Jesus right up to and including this very moment. Patricia was back in St. Pete and i was in Knoxville trying to deal with all the ugliness there.
And then…………….THIS last Thursday….. JULY 14th, 2011. I get an email saying……..CALL ME ASAP. Easy work here.
WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAt????!!!!!! You have to be kidding me! Yep it was JAMES! Alive and well!
I have to say it………….Thank You Jesus! Now i know what You have been doing all this time. Exactly what i asked for. :-))!
I called James that evening at 7:00pm, 7/14/2011, approx a year and two months after i had been looking for him. We spoke about his job there in Knoxville TN which he is very happy with. Last time we seen James he was a dishwasher and not happy in 2009. The time before that was our “ugly talk” James and i had in the Walmart parking lot after the Sheriffs had released him to me in 2008.
* James did not have a real job
*James did not have a car or any sort of transportation
*James felt his life would be hopeless
*James did not have a drivers license
*James, a Navy Vet should have been on disability but was not
* James did not have a home or any where to stay with friends. He was without a roof over his head. Yep he was what society labels as homeless.
Then James explained to me:
** He enjoys his new, real job
** He now has a Mini Van of his own
** He now has his drivers license back
** He now has his own apartment with really nice furniture (as he doesn’t bring junk into his apt)
** He now has his disability which he worked to get on his own through a lawyer he obtained
** He now has money in the bank, which he is determined to hang onto.
****** He is indeed ALIVE! He has done it through his own determination.
He listened, he heard, he hurt, he got mad and he did it! He did it!
And that my friends……………..is………………The Best Phone Call Ever!
And that my friends is how it works.
Social Decay has ended, been defeated in this former Friend In Need in Knoxville, TN. James is now as our Mission Statement says……”A Positive contributing Force” in the Knoxville, TN Community once again.
James, succeeded in Taking Back His Life.
Lance Greene/Founder :-))!