Tom’s Walk

I had thought I might do my Highmark Walk as part of my usual morning routine run-walk. It would be easy to do, but not very meaningful. I did go out for a few miles that beautiful Saturday. But I thought it would be more meaningful to walk with the homeless instead of for the homeless. I knew at lunch and dinner I would be preparing and serving meals for those Friendship House housed at the Red Roof Inn in Newark. I thought it would be a neat photo-op of walking around the mammoth parking lot with some of my homeless friends who I know very well. God had other plans.

Issac (name was changed for this story) made his way to pick up lunch along with 39 others. He did not look good that day. He often does not. Isaac has a substance abuse disorder with alcohol, and as a result has severe liver and heart issues. He has medication but chooses not to take it as he believes his end is near. I’ve spent a lot of time with him trying to bring him hope.

Isaac did not smell of alcohol and his speech was not slurred, but he still struggled to walk across the parking lot. Another person grabbed him and held him up. I ran over and grabbed his other arm. Isaac says, “will you walk with me?” Isn’t that what the Highmark Walk is all about? We slowly made our way into the building and down the long hallway. I told Isaac and our other friend about the Highmark Walk and they thanked me. I think this says volumes about Friendship House, “Will you walk with me?”

We got Isaac to his room to lie down and discussed calling 911. But he did not want to go to the hospital. My other friends at the Red Roof Inn reported he was somewhat better at dinner but still weak. Our friend took dinner to Isaac’s room. Pray for Isaac that he will accept the help from those who reach out to him. And pray he will again find hope in life.

Thank you Friendship House for all you have done to care for the most vulnerable. Your efforts, especially during the pandemic, saved lives. You have given hope.

Tom Parkins, Friendship House volunteer

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