PRESS RELEASE OF LOVE. From Abundant Grace’s Director Eric DeBode.
All of us at Abundant Grace give thanks this season for the gift of meaningful work with folks who are struggling. I think one of our greatest achievements this past year is that the center has become a space where community is happening; people experiencing homelessness are cooking and cleaning in the kitchen, showering and doing laundry, getting ready for work like all of us do, and helping each other in so many ways. Together, we have created a space where people can have a reliable morning, they can plan, and people are here to help. It’s so amazing, and then this happened…
Do For Someone Else What You Did For Me
I’ve worked with the homeless community for three decades now, and although I’ve seen a lot, I certainly haven’t seen it all. Abundant Grace is founded on the vision of accompaniment – of walking with, making common cause, listening to, and acting together – with our neighbors experiencing homelessness. We are not merely giving away food or clothes to those in need, but by providing employment and working shoulder to shoulder; we become friends who help each other. We get glimpses into the lives of those we serve that disclose the myriad reasons why people end up in such tough situations. And we have fortunately also journeyed with some people toward their redemption and triumph over major life struggles. But, as I said, I haven’t seen it all…
It was perhaps five years ago when Rich first appeared on my radar; he was living in his truck on Kelly and Purisima, and nearly freezing from the cold nights. He came asking for a sleeping bag, so we gave him one, and brought him to work on the farm with us. He started working regularly on the Coastside Clean Team as well, and we quickly became friends.
Rich was chatty. He loved telling stories, many which made me laugh, and some that showed how hard his life had been. In all, I had the sense of his inherent decency; he had been shaped by some bad choices, transformed by occasional good fortune and work, and deep down he was gasping for something better in life like someone struggling for air.
A few months into our friendship I was driving him somewhere and he mentioned that he was a vet. “Why didn’t you tell me that three months ago?” I snapped! I connected him with a Veteran’s Affairs worker through LifeMoves and he was promptly housed in Redwood City. He loaded his belongings into my van and we set out to move him into his new digs. Like many before him, he promised to give back. People rarely do, in reality, but it’s an intention that deserves to be honored.
A few weeks ago, to my great surprise, he texted me that he was coming to town and wanted to stop by to see Abundant Grace after all the renovations. He came a couple of Mondays ago and sat in my office with his friend while we shared old stories of how we met and worked together. We alluded to some of the difficulties, but overall we laughed and recalled how well things went for him, and what a gift it has been for him to have housing.
Then, he reached into his pocket and handed me an envelope. He smiled and said (as his voice cracked) “I said I was going to give back.” We were both a bit teary, and I glanced in the envelope and saw a check for $10,000! Of course, I was shocked, and overwhelmed with gratitude. And then he said something I will never forget, “Take it, and do for someone else what you did for me.” It was a “pay it forward” moment the likes of which I would never have dreamed. He told me as he left to feel free to share his story – that he wanted others to know that it is possible to make it, and give back.
This holiday, and as the New Year approaches, in honor of Rich’s tremendous gift, I hope we all can take some time to reflect on our lives with gratitude, consider what we can do to “pay it forward,” and take action to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters who struggle.
We hope you have a lovely holiday and a very Merry Christmas!
RIBBON CUTTING. From the Saturday, November 6th, 2021 Abundant Grace Coastside Worker Grand Opening Celebration of their Workforce Development Center!
Abundant Grace’s partners include the County of San Mateo and the City of Half Moon Bay.
Abundant Grace has become synonymous with help and support for the Coastside’s unhomed.
Abundant Grace transforms lives through our job-readiness programming: taking people experiencing homelessness to grow and harvest over 20,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce for free distribution to low-income families at our Full Circle Food Justice Program; and to clean up the environment of the beaches and trails of Half Moon Bay on the Coastside Clean Team. We are doing good, meaningful work together; we are making a difference in our community; we are transforming our very selves. Please be a part of this unique project. Make common cause with us. We can’t do it alone…we need your participation and support.
Come Celebrate Abundant Grace’s Workforce Development Center Grand Opening
Sat. November 6th @ 12:00pm – 3:00pm
We are doing good, meaningful work together; we are making a difference in our community; we are transforming our very selves. Please be a part of this unique project.
Make common cause with us. We can’t do it alone…we need your participation and support.