I read an article recently in the Arizona Republic newspaper about a homeless man who made an interesting choice.
Dave Tally spent most nights sleeping on a mat at a homeless shelter. During the day, he walked the streets. That is where he found a backpack with over $3,000 cash and a laptop in it. Enough for his own place, a bike to get around on and the means to fulfill a long wish list after being homeless for six years. He had found the backpack at the light rail station near the University. He knew it probably belonged to a college student.
The interfaith shelter had seen Dave’s potential when he showed up for a bed each night in his shelter which required sobriety. They had selected him as one of the programs night monitors. Although many shelters struggle with violence and crime this one rarely has such troubles. “The program works because people like Dave don’t want to do anything to hurt the people from the church who are kind enough to let them sleep there;” the director of the shelter said.
At the time, Dave was working a step recovery program. Drugs, alcohol and a string of bad decisions had dogged him for much of his life. He had lost his driver’s license when he got a DUI, lost his job, and bit by bit his life unraveled. He developed a plan with an agency caseworker to reach his goals. To get a job he needed to get his driver’s license reinstated. He had to pay fines. He had to get rid of some debt. A bag full of money would have been an easy fix. But to meet any one of those goals he knew he would have to keep attending his recovery meetings and telling the truth. He was committed to his sobriety. He also struggled with what to do with the money he had found. He confided in his mentor and he told Dave it was up to him to make a decision.
In the Resonance Repatterning seminars I talk about the affect dishonesty has on our energetic system. Even keeping one penny more than is owed you will diminish your energy. This demonstration is powerful for my students and gets us thinking about the choices we make and justify every day. Dave has never been in one of my seminars. He just knew that keeping the cash, “just didn’t feel right”. Dave says the choice came down to not being able to take something he didn’t earn from someone who might need it.
With the help of the shelter director they tracked down the owner. It did belong to a student who got distracted in a conversation on his cell phone and forgot his bag. He had planned to use the money to buy a car to replace one wrecked in a recent accident. Meeting him and hearing the student’s thanks and praises for his honesty and kindness made Dave feel good about himself. He had not felt that in awhile. It is hard to have faith in yourself when you’ve been digging through the trash for a meal and hurting the people who love you. Dave knows better than most how easily life can spiral out of control when it comes to the disease of addiction. “I didn’t want to waste all the good that people had done for me,” he said.
Dave’s good deed sparked an international outpouring of goodwill. People wanted to help get him off the streets. The story went national. He was interviewed by CNN, People magazine and ABC’s Diane Sawyer. A few foreign news outlets picked up on the story. Maxwell House coffee put him on a 30 second commercial as a part of a marketing campaign on the power of optimism. Donations started pouring in for him exceeding $10,000. A lawyer volunteered to fix his legal mess so he could get his driver’s license back. It took about 6 months but he arranged for him to pay restitution from his fund and do community service. A dentist fixed his teeth. The ripple affect of energy spiraling up when we do the right thing!
“I just want to thank everyone who was willing to help give me a second chance in life.” Even though he had enough money to move out of the shelter right away last year, he asked to keep volunteering and sleeping there. Last January, Dave moved into his own apartment. He chose a no-frills, five-unit complex across the street from a church where he had slept when he was homeless. He said he wanted “a reminder of where I’ve been and where I’m not going back again.”
Seeing Dave’s commitment to getting his life in order, the non-profit offered him an internship at a community garden it was starting to help fill the charity’s food pantry with fresh vegetables and fruits. In June, Sparks called Dave into his office for a review. “I messed with him a little, but I knew he was getting the job,” Sparks said. “He’d worked so hard.”
Dave says now has his dream career. “I’m blessed,” he said, adding that he hopes to return to school to further his horticulture studies. He is in the garden almost every day planting, digging and cultivating food that is distributed to community volunteers and to the food pantry. “I just don’t want anybody to have to take something out of the garbage to eat,” he said, explaining why he spends so much time in the garden.
Recently, he started managing an internship program that allows people who are homeless to volunteer in the garden. He doesn’t preach to anyone, though. “I let them know that when they’re ready to make changes, it’s possible,” he said.
“I learned in my recovery program not to judge other people. I guess all I can say is that if I hadn’t been at that point … where I was working the program … I wouldn’t have been at the point to make changes in my life.”
In the spring, when Dave’s license was reinstated, he bought a motorcycle. He follows a strict budget to maintain his simple lifestyle. “My bills, they get priority. Nothing else gets done until they get paid,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to be able to put back into society after being a person who was dependent on society for so long.” At the end of a day’s work, he gets to go home.” The key that opens my door is a privilege, and I have to earn it.”
It is amazing how many doors open when we do the right thing. Dave is a wonderful example of that. He chose well. Then he chose well again and again. That is all we can do. We are at the crossroads daily. What we choose defines who we are. Is Dave that unique? Or are there many people who are down but wealthy in spirit? What would you have done?? Ardis