I recall a pleasant morning in October ‘Oscar’ surprised us with a visit. It was good to see him! Oscar and his family lived at Tierra Vida for several of his growing up years before moving away. Although he had made so much progress while living in this community, when we inquired about what he was doing these days, he said he was just at home. When we asked again, he said he was working with numbers. When we asked about the specific job, he just repeated himself. Finally, Glenn asked if he meant that he was doing some things he’d rather not be doing but doesn’t know how to get out of. He replied, “yes”. Around his neck hangs a large gold necklace featuring the Virgin of Guadalupe for protection.

I asked what he’d like to do if he could do anything. He said he’d like to learn to do welding. He mentioned maybe he’d go to Work source. After several text message responses, he said he needed to go, so we hugged him goodbye and told him to take care of himself. Glenn said it felt as though he was coming to say confession and we were the priests.

At noon, I took a transfer call from the café. It was Oscar’s aunt, asking for help with her teenage son, who is struggling at home and at school. Rick happened to be here so I put him on the phone with her.

I walked out of the office into the café where Tom Michelson was standing with a friend and a homeless young man; they were looking for resources to help him. He has been sleeping behind a building in town. Adan came by, and called Alicia, our Tierra Vida resource lady, to come over.

And then, at 3pm, Robert walked in. Although Robert’s family didn’t live at Tierra Vida, he associated himself with youth leaders working there during his high school years. Although he hadn’t been planning it, they inspired him to try college. Today Robert is back in the community with his college degree in social work, where he will be joining the after-school program partnership between CASA and the ESD at Tierra Vida.

What is the thread between all these unplanned visitations? It seems that those who are connected to a caring community just do better! They become more resilient to life’s storms as they build positive relationships with others. Those who lack those connections often become overwhelmed as they try to do life alone. Who do you see around you that may need a friend to believe in them when they don’t believe in themselves? What could you do about it? Their life may depend on it-possibly yours too!



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