Team USA: Someone I’ll Never Forget

While we were in Chicago, we had multiple opportunities to work and build relationships with people in the homeless community at Pacific Garden Mission. Here, Launa and Kassidy share about conversations that really impacted them. “Jack” and “Mike” are men we met during our work there. Their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

His name was Jack. Jack was nearly lame. People had beaten up his legs, and he is now barely able to walk even with a walker. He shared his dreams of California and the movie industry with me, but ended each dream with “…but I’m here.”

Jack also told me how he was never going to give up. He told me he would learn to walk again and follow his dreams, even though he is getting older. I talked with Jack for 3 or 4 hours about everything; his favorite color is “every color,” and he loves chicken tenders and fries.

Jack taught me to never quit and to follow my dreams. Jack also showed me kindness and generosity. Even as a homeless man who struggles to afford a pair of shoes, Jack repeatedly offered me some of his food. That blew me away: a man who has nothing wanting to give to a girl who has everything.

That is pure, genuine love.

—Launa Evans
I met a guy named Mike today, and he changed my whole perspective on life. He explained to me that he joined a gang when he was 13 years old, and it was because his foster parents were drug addicts, and it was the only way to keep them happy. He told me that at 15, he was shot eight times, but couldn’t leave the gang even though he wanted to.

Mike was so glad to have found Pacific Gardens and have a place to stay. They’re even helping him find an apartment. He was talking about his dream to go to college for business management and how he has learned to make God the center of his life. He shared that even though when he was younger and had been making a lot of money on drugs and was able to afford nice clothes and two cars, at age 26 he realized that the only thing that could make him truly happy was God.

It gave me so much hope to hear that, and I will keep him in my thoughts and prayers. I even taught him how to tie his shoes for the first time in his life because no one had ever taught him as a child. Talking and bonding with Mike was life changing and opened my eyes to have more sympathy for those in gangs and those struggling with addiction.

—Kassidy Ellis