Sometimes you have people that make a mark on your life. Meet Donald, Ricky and Cheryl.
At one time Donald and Ricky were homeless and even slept outside of the Lubbock Impact building. Ricky had a simple way of life to match his capabilities, but he would spend every Thursday morning picking up the parking lot because he wanted to help.
His friend, Donald would work here and there. One time Donald was gone for a few days because he was working on the other side of town. Ricky didn’t know where he was, or perhaps he didn’t remember that he had gone to work. On the day that Donald came back to the Lubbock Impact parking lot, Ricky saw him and ran over to him to greet him and hug him. Ricky’s friend had come home!
Ricky and Donald were always there to assist with packages, food or clothing that was dropped off at our building. After unloading a bunch of heavy groceries one day, we gave the guys some left over fried chicken from that week’s soup kitchen meal.
That same afternoon we were working in the dining hall when we heard a loud knock on the door. The knocking was strong and steady. We weren’t going to have the soup kitchen that night, so my girlfriend and I were a bit scared as we walked up the stairs to the door. A young girl with a baby was standing there. She asked if we were going to have a meal that night. We told her no—so she started to head back to her car where a man and more kiddos were seated. Then we heard a voice say, “Are you hungry?”
The young girl, my girlfriend and I all turned to see Donald and Ricky sitting next to the building where they usually slept. “Are you hungry?” Ricky asked again. “We have some chicken here—do you want it? We can share!”
“We have plenty!” Donald insisted.
This was one of the most generous moments I had ever witnessed.
Cheryl and her friend offered to let Donald and Ricky sleep on their couches in the cold weather. Ricky kept having strokes. Sometimes he would just take off walking in the wrong direction and not come back for a few hours.
That’s when Wanda did her magic. Wanda had been a volunteer at Lubbock Impact for ages, then she was hired as the Director. She decided to find out more about Ricky. Before long, Wanda had found Ricky’s brother and sister.
Cheryl and Donald knew that Ricky was not going to return when Wanda offered to take him to see his brother, but Ricky didn’t comprehend it all. After a five hour drive, Wanda said the two brothers ran toward each other across the truck stop parking lot in Ft Worth, like the prodigal son and father in the bible.
We all miss Ricky terribly. He was so sweet, except when he got ahold of some liquor. Wanda called to check on him and found out that he had had more strokes. We sure miss him, but we don’t know if he remembers us.
Cheryl is a graduate of Lubbock High School and spent most of her adult life taking care of her disabled dad. Donald met Cheryl, they became friends and now they live as a couple in love. Cheryl is a good cook and keeps the house looking great. She put blankets over most of her furniture in order to keep it really clean.
Donald had a full time job until he recently was struck with cancer. He came to the Free Med Clinic on Wednesday evening when he noticed a sore in his mouth. The doctors confirmed that what he feared was true and gave him instructions on how to receive care. We went to visit Donald in the hospital after his surgery and I remember thinking that the hospital bed probably felt really comfortable to him.
Today Donald is cancer free and striving to regain his strength after months of chemo. Cheryl has been caring for Donald; they take care of each other. Donald hopes to return to his bus-boy job at a local restaurant. Cheryl recently moved to a small home closer to LI so it is easier for her and Donald to walk to our campus. Wanda continues to help Cheryl by counting out her money for her electric bill each month.
Cheryl, Donald and Ricky have all benefited from many of the services at LI, and all who have helped them have benefited from their sweet spirits.
When asked about Lubbock Impact one time, Cheryl responded, “I love the people here…and I know they love me.”