How The Community Took One Man Under Its Wing

When I had first noticed Gary(not his real name). he was trying to sleeping the doorway of the local opportunity shop. It was a freezing cold night at the beginning of Winter. I had approached him to see whether he was ok. He had reassured me that he was but I had felt very concerned about him. He had ended up getting quite aggressive with me.

A member of my ex husband’s family died over twenty years ago on the street of Melbourne, so I knew how cold and unforgiving conditions could be.

I had rung the local Salvation Army but they had not seemed to have the resources to help. I had mentioned him at our local church. The vicar had alluded to the fact that he had popped in and that his name was Gary. He had eventually moved from in front of the opportunity shop, to outside the local station, where he` had seemed to settle.
He was understandably a little grumpy at first and at times he could be quite intimidating. This had resulted in him being spoken to by police. I began to notice that his grumpy periods mainly occurred on rainy days, so I bought him a couple of cheap raincoats and had left them by his blanket. Gradually I began to notice a change in him. People started leaving him blankets, food and some kind soul had even left him a little fold-up bed. He had seemed to get into a routine. Gary had somehow managed to develop a taste for the relatively expensive home-made soup from a local cafe. He had seemed unimpressed by my offer of canned soup, so I can only assume the kind people at this local shop, had been giving him soup for free. Gary had so much stuff by this stage, it had needed to be piled into a shopping trolley. I began to worry a little less that he was not going to make it through the Winter.

Feeling Settled

We were so used to seeing Gary, that my university student youngsters began to notice when he wasn’t there and express concern. My daughter was particularly used to his routine. He would hang around in the station if the weather was particularly horrendous. When he wasn’t there one day, she had been so concerned, I had felt compelled to try and find him. He had eventually turned up.

Soon Spring was in the air and the weather had begun to improve. He had seemed much more settled than when he had first arrived. People were used to seeing him around. He had become part of our little community. Then suddenly just as mysteriously as he had arrived, he had disappeared. He has left his mark on us all. I am relatively new to this area myself and had been amazed at people’s kindness. I had seen how it had transformed this one man. I don’t know whether he will be back next Winter but I do know that he touched the heart of this small, urban community.

When I Needed A Neighbour

Source:Divine Hymns

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