For people reading this blog entry that have not read my previous entries on the homeless, I encourage you to read Homeless Project Background. It will give you some background on my project. Briefly, I have made a commitment to give $20 each week to a homeless person and minimally ask their name and where they are from.
Today’s story starts about seven years ago when I was in a training class for Vistage Chairs. A Vistage Chair’s job is to increase the effectiveness and enhance the lives of CEOs. It is a fascinating job and requires many skills one of which is vulnerability. In my training class, there was a man who lived on the East Coast. He was originally from England. He was a brilliant professional executive who had been providing management consulting for many years.
During the training class, we discussed some pretty deep and personal subjects. This gentleman talked about the wall that had always existed between him and his father. We suggested he call his father that night. The next morning he came back to training class with tears of joy. He had had a breakthrough conversation with his father. It was an amazing experience for all of us to see how a simple suggestion could have such a profound impact.
Now let me connect this father-son story my homeless project. Yesterday as I was walking my dog, I came upon Ron from Ft. Worth, Texas. See my previous post about Ron if you like. This time, I spent a bit longer with Ron. He had a brace on his calf and ankle. He also had a walker to help him get around. He told me that he fell in the Longs parking lot and broke his ankle. He hobbled out of the parking lot, but could not make it very far. Some Good Samaritan called an ambulance as it was clear that he had a very bad break. I am glad that the hospital emergency room took care of Ron.
After the broken ankle story, I asked Ron what worried him. Quickly but softly he said, “My father.” He said he father was recently divorced from his second wife and Ron was not sure how he was doing. He said he was a bit estranged from his father who lives about twenty miles from Ron’s typical street hangout. He said he does not call is dad enough. When he does, he used the phone at by the Starbucks less than a block from where we were talking. I handed him $20 and suggested he call his dad today. I walked away, turned around and suggested he call his dad right now. I could see he understood my suggestion and was conflicted. Again, I suggested he call his dad right now and then I walked away.
I could not help but think of the above story from my Vistage training class. How similar we all are. How interesting that my friend, the business executive, is worried about the same thing as Ron, the homeless guy from Ft. Worth, Texas. I hope Ron made the call.