It was a year ago that Justin’s wife had died of a particularly aggressive cancer. Justin and his two young boys, Chad and Oliver, were doing their best to continue living their lives without her. Justin held down two part-time jobs; he delivered linens to restaurants and hospitals for 20 hour a week and worked as a shift manager in a nearby McDonald’s restaurant for another 20. Justin dropped off 6-year-old Chad and 8-year-old Oliver off at his sister’s house at 6:00 every morning and picked them up at 5:30 every evening.
A few weeks ago, Oliver confided in his dad that he was worried about going back to school in September. It seems that Oliver had been teased during the last few months of school because his shoes were worn out and his clothes did not meet the standards of his classmates. “Can you let Aunt Shelley take me shopping?” he asked.
Justin considered the state of his finances. His two salaries paid the rent and the bills and he was making monthly payments on his wife’s medical bills and the funeral costs. His sister was a struggling single mom. In his concern, he confided to a friend that he was not sure how he was going to pull it all together. His friend told him about St. Francis House.
During his registration interview, Justin explained his situation to the intake volunteer. “I had no idea that my son wasn’t dressed properly,” he said. “I guess that I was so consumed with my own grief and worries that I didn’t even notice. Now I don’t even know what to pick you for him.”
Within an hour, Justin had selected great school outfits for his two sons, thanks to the help of a volunteer who served as his “personal shopper.” Not only that, but he had backpacks filled with the appropriate school supplies for each of them. Tears streamed down his face as he thanked his helper. “My son will be so relieved when I show him these things,” he said. “If he were here, he would be giving you a huge hug!”