Many years ago, when I was in high school and still living under my parents' roof, my dad told me about a homeless man who asked him for some money one day in Nashville. Dad told the man no, but offered to buy him lunch. The man gladly accepted.
Fast forward 5 or 6 years to when I was out on my own and working in Downtown Nashville. I worked at a building on the corner of 6th and Union Streets and had to walk a few blocks from my parking garage to my office building. Many days, I was asked for money from homeless people. Many days, I just walked by or said no. And many of those times, I was cussed at by the person I had ignored or declined to help. I had forgotten a lesson taught to me...but then one morning, as I trudged up the hill from the garage to the office building, a woman came up to me and asked for money for food. I said, "I don't have any small change, but I will buy you breakfast if you want it." She gladly accepted and we walked to McDonald's a couple blocks away. She told me her story of why she was here and why she was homeless and asked me not to judge her. It was hard to hear, but she seemed like she really was trying to get her life turned around. Well, we got to McD's and I waited in line with her. We drew a lot of stares...and I just ignored them and talked with the woman, who was obviously nervous. I told her, "You get as much as you want"...and she did, which made me smile! She ordered 2 big breakfasts..you know, the ones with pancakes, some orange juice, and another biscut or something like that. It was a LOT of food...but I bet she was really hungry. I walked her to a table and told her I had to get on to work. I have told Benjamin this story and he remembers it and often asks me about it. I hope he will one day have the opportunity to buy a meal for someone in need.