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Take one, give one

Leslie Brown

The airport in my rather small town, is being remodeled. What’s been taken away makes me sad; sometimes new isn’t better.

Our adorable little airport, with free parking and TWO gates is getting a “face-lift”. I liked the “old face” better. It had “laugh lines” of character, not a frozen “botoxed” veneer.

What’s missing from the airport now, is a shelf that held used books. You see, you could grab one and take it on the way to your flight, and bring it back, or not. I remember taking a huge hard-backed book, and I enjoyed reading it for several weeks.

Here’s a story about a former client of a day shelter. You see, some people give what little they have, while others take what little you have. Be a giver; isn’t that we are supposed to do?

This afternoon, I made my way across town to the modest apartment of one of the men who used to be a guest at the day shelter. Today, I was a guest in his home during a monthly visit that is part of his participation in our permanent supportive housing program, and it was the highlight of my day. I was there to offer him support in reaching his goals, but at the end of our visit, he was the one offering the support.

As we wrapped up our home visit, he asked me if I was going back to the day shelter when I left his apartment. When I said that I was indeed, he asked me if I would do him a favor. The favor turned out to be delivering over a dozen gently used paperback novels to the current day shelter guests, and it was a favor I readily agreed to do on his behalf.

He explained that when he was a guest, he did not like to watch television, as he preferred to read the books that filled the small bookshelf in the day shelter. He remembered that sometimes the reading material was sparse, and he wanted to replenish our selections with books given to him over the years by his brother. He had read and enjoyed books by various authors, and he remarked, “You all did a lot for me when I was there, and I just want to do something to give back to someone else.” I thanked him profusely for his thoughtfulness and generosity, and I returned to the day shelter with the books in tow.

As I placed the newest additions to our meager library on the shelf, one of the guests looked over my shoulder to browse the titles. He became excited when he spotted a book that he had wanted to read, and when I handed it to him and explained who donated these particular books, he grinned broadly and said, “That’s really cool. Someday, I am going to give back to you all, too.” He walked away, not to sit down, but to continue sweeping up the floor.

You see, this guest already is giving back, as he voluntarily was helping to clean up the shelter. Someday was today. That’s one of the many beautiful things about kindness. It is contagious and can be shared by anyone in any place at any time.

Just one thing each day . . .

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