Below is a first-hand story told by my brother-in-law, Christopher Fay.

He’s the Executive Director of a transitional housing agency called Homestretch.

From their website:

Our mission is to empower homeless families with children under age 18 in northern Virginia to return to stable housing and self-sufficiency by giving them the skills, knowledge and hope they need to become productive participants in the community.

Chris didn’t know I would post his story here, but I am doing so because it highlights something we talk about a lot here at the Black Fives Blog.

And that is, make history now.  Not tomorrow.  Not in a little while.  Not in 15 minutes.  But, now.  In each “now” that comes to you, one moment at a time.

A True Christmas Tale

The following happened yesterday and seems an appropriate story for today – today being Christmas.

One of my case managers, Buthaina, after accepting a new client into Homestretch, was helping him prepare for his move into the unit we set aside for him. He is a single dad with two children. He has a job and seems to be a decent and hard working fellow who has fallen on hard times. The family was referred to us by the public schools when a teacher discovered that the family was living in their car.

Something we require of new clients is that they pay a security deposit before they move in – a mere $400, but for some people, even that amount is beyond reach. In those cases, any number of agencies are able to help the family come up with the money. Yesterday being the day before Christmas, no agency could be found to help and he realized he’d have to pay from his own meager savings, so he counted out $400, including his very last dollar bill. It turns out all he had to his name was $400 but he was happy to turn it over, since it would mean the family would have a home at last.

Buthaina, wanting to make sure he and his children had food, did the next thing the case managers always do for new clients. She called a local food bank to request a food delivery, but being late in the day on the day before Christmas, when everyone was leaving their offices for home, she could find no one able to make a food delivery for him.

Disappointed, she went to our Deputy Director, Brenda, and asked her if we had any gift cards that the family could use to buy some food. Brenda checked and discovered we only had one gift card left, for $25, so she gave that to the father and he seemed happy.

Buthaina then took him and the children to their home. They were quite happy, but when Buthaina came back to the office and sat at her desk, she began to cry. She felt sad that all she could get for the man and his children was a $25 gift certificate; this would not be enough to last them through the holidays. If he had come into the program a month earlier, he would have been “adopted” for the holidays by a company or church and they would be swimming in Christmas gifts and food, but because he came in on Christmas Eve, the things Buthaina could give him were paltry.

The telephone rang. She answered. The woman on the other line told her that as she was wrapping gifts for her children and for her grandchildren, she was suddenly swept with the thought that she was giving too much. She felt the need to return some of those gifts, cash them back in, and use the money to buy food for a homeless family. Buthaina, overjoyed, told the woman about the new family in Homestretch, and the woman decided to go out then and there and get as much food as she could afford for the family. The woman wanted to deliver them herself, so Buthaina got the man and woman connected. What a wonderful thing to happen, Buthaina thought; now she could go home in peace.

On her way out the door – I was leaving at the same time – she told me about what just happened. As we were in the front office talking, a young woman and her teenage son appeared with bags of wrapped gifts.

“I know that I am very late with these”, she said, “and I never called in advance to find out what you needed, but my sons and I decided on an impulse to buy some gifts for a homeless family. I hope we are not too late to find a home for these gifts.”

As it turns out, the gifts she brought were perfectly suited to the ages and gender of the man and his children. Among the gifts was a brand new acoustic guitar!

From Buthaina’s lips to God’s ears, I thought to myself. This is grace; this is the tender mercies of God.

I hope this story brings you cheer. I am still feeling the joy.

God bless you on this wonderful day.