Giving Back Helps Define ‘Independence Day’

When I created my 101 List, I thought to myself, “I’ll just put some interesting things on here and have some fun with it.” (click here to see entire list)


It has grown into so much more than that, though.

Every time I scratch something off – it turns into this powerful experience. (Even eating a double-scoop of ice cream – No. 47 – which I shared with my Little Brother Anthony.)

My most recent “cross off” could end up being the most powerful experience on the whole list: No. 30 Adopt a Client.

The initial subtext on The List read: “Program through Presbyterian Night Shelter – helping a client make the transition into mainstream society.”

That was accurate, but words could NEVER completely capture that experience.

On July 3, 2009, we officially adopted Cole Searcy and helped turn his new house into a home.

With the help of some wonderfully great friends and family, we were able to provide a hand up to Cole as he continued to put his life back together and get off the streets of Fort Worth.

We received a futon and TV (thanks, Connie & Raymond), bed and dresser (Christine & Travis), chair and ottoman (Kenny & Arlene), lamps and picture frames (Kelly), kitchen supplies and toiletry items (Denise). My sister Susan even collected items in lieu of gifts for my nephew’s first birthday.

We had a tremendous response and I can’t express my appreciation enough.

When we were initially gathering the items, however, we were going to drop them off at the PNS warehouse and let them distribute them to the appropriate client(s).

We were giving back, but doing it from afar.

Then I got a call from the shelter volunteer coordinator, Heather White. She informed me that one of the residents, who I had come to know and love during my weekly trips to PNS, was moving out. She asked if we specifically wanted to adopted him.

ME: “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

On the morning of the 3rd, we pulled up into Cole’s new apartment complex and he was waiting on his stairwell like a little kid on Christmas morning. He quickly informed me that he chose to sleep on a pallet in the empty apartment the night before.

COLE (smiling ear to ear): “I didn’t want to accidently over sleep and miss this.”

With the help of The Bulldog and her husband, Matt (both all-stars), we hauled Cole’s things up the stairs. With each load, you could see Cole’s appreciation.

COLE: “It’s almost overwhelming.”

When he sat in his “new” chair for the first time and put his feet up on the ottoman, you could see the pride in his eyes.

He loved the TV.

He was thrilled to have his own bed.

He appreciated that we thought of the little things, too – like the liner to the shower curtain and some coat hangers. (All things we take for granted.)

COLE: “I’m going to have trouble sleeping tonight.”

ME: “Why is that, Cole? Did you have trouble sleeping here last night?”

COLE: “Last night, I didn’t have all this stuff.”

I had to make one more trip to the apartment later in the morning. (Had to pick up some items that fell through the cracks – broom, trash can, etc.)

As I was saying good bye one last time, Cole handed me a homemade thank you card.

On the inside, he wrote: “I’m blessed to have angels like you in my life. You all are so special. You don’t know the positive impact you have on my life and the lives of others. Keep up God’s work.”

I stuck out my hand for Cole to shake, he pulled me in for a hug.

When I got back to my truck, I said a short prayer and thought back to something Cole’s girlfriend, Adrianne, said earlier in the day, “This gives a whole new meaning to independence day.”

Cue the fireworks going off in my heart!
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