John was one of a number of folks who found themselves “stranded” in Dayton this summer. Most of the others we spoke with were transients who travel across the country for various reasons while the weather is favorable. John was different and his story reminds us of the mystery of God.
John was stranded in Dayton because his car broke down here. He was trying to get from Pittsburg, PA to his home in St. Louis, MO. He went to Pennsylvania to see his sister following the death of a relative. She was struggling greatly with the loss. John explained he has a job but is on a leave of absence until September. He already used the last of his money to repair the car once on this trip. Our CityHeart volunteer sadly told John we do not give money for car repairs, and have no referrals for this type of assistance. We suggested he contact family or friends who might offer financial help.
John has some time before he must return to St. Louis, and he is willing to work. He says he is sleeping in his car which caused us immediate concern. We encouraged him to go to the Gateway Men’s shelter until he can determine how to proceed. We offered him hospitality of coffee and snacks, and gave information for places where he can get free meals. We also provided a resource guide for possible jobs and gave him some bus tokens to get around. He was very appreciative for our help.
John came back the next morning and proved just how resourceful he could be on his own behalf. He told us that he called a friend who paid for one week in a small local hotel. John then contacted a junk yard auto parts department and found the part he needed for about $200.00. A repair shop near where the car broke down had offered to do the repairs for free if John could provide the part. He was very anxious to find some day labor or temp work and was prepared to ask CityHeart for more bus tokens.
It was busy in the office that morning, and while John waited to be seen he chatted with two other visitors about his story. One of those people reached in her pocket and pulled out six bus tokens and generously offered them to John, even though she herself was at CityHeart to request help with a utility bill. Then one of our regular visitors suggested that John check out two Dayton area companies that always need licensed drivers for neighborhood ice cream trucks. Unfortunately the one who offered this suggestion doesn’t have a valid driver license, and he also desperately needs work. The driving job would pay at the end of each shift, which meant that John would be quickly on his way to $200 for the auto part. CityHeart helped to locate both companies on the internet. John called and the prospect was very favorable. We gave John directions and bus route information to find his way.
John left CityHeart a happy and grateful man, and never returned. We can only assume that he quickly accomplished his goal and made his way back to St. Louis. As for our two kind friends, CityHeart paid to stop the utility disconnection for the generous woman who gave away her bus tokens. And then CityHeart ended up providing transportation for the man with the knowledge of ice cream jobs, so he too could go to apply for a different job opportunity!
Sometimes it can be very hard when we are limited in our response, and yet it was a good day at CityHeart, with a wonderful display of generosity and networking amongst these apparent strangers.
Truly, God works in mysterious ways, and all things came together for good!