It was just before the holidays. The traffic was thick. I was behind the lead car at the red light on 185th and Highway 26. Glancing in the rear view mirror, I noticed there were at least a dozen cars behind me. The woman in front of me was chatting on the phone as so many people do these days. Off in my own little world, I did not acknowledge the man holding a sign that asked for a job, until the light turned green.
Prepared to move, I looked forward. It wasn't until the light turned red again and we had not moved, that I noticed the car i n front of me had put her hazards on. Cars behind me honked. I shrugged. What could I do? I couldn't go anywhere. The car in front of me was broken down; the car behind was too close for me to go around and the traffic on the right was just as thick.
Seeing that no one had moved through the third traffic light color change, I watched as the homeless man put his sign down and walk to the stalled car. He knocked on the window. The driver looked up and saw this slightly grungy man and completely ignored him. He shrugged and walked back to his sign. People behind me became more annoyed and the honking continued. I got out to see if I could help in any way. The yound lady rolled her window down for me.
"Can I help push you to the side of the road," I asked? She nodded and said it would be nice.
I turned and noticed the homeless man although previously ignored, was already in place to do so. As he and I struggled, we could not make the car budge on the incline. As the other dozen plus cars watched, honked and cursed at us, we tried one more time to no avail. Finally, a man in the eighth car back got out and helped us. We moved the car and the homeles man went back to his sign, not waiting to hear the words thank you.
My car was now first in line. I glanced at the line of cars waiting to get to their destinations. I looked at the homeless man and smiled. People honked. I didn't care. It was the homeless man who was first to offer help. Being formerly homeless myself, I knew what it was like to be ignored. Someone needed to acknowledge him and I knew God was nudging me to do so.
I went to him and said, "I can't give you a job, but can I buy you lunch?"
He smiled and said, "Thank you, but I can get fed at a lot of places. It's getting cold out. I can use gloves or socks. He lifted his pants leg to show that he had no socks at all, just bare feet in tattered shoes.
When I left him 20 minutes later, because of a small donation made to the Yetzer Ha-Tov Foundation, he had his gloves as well as three pairs of socks. I watched carefully as he placed his new treasures in a small box he had taken from his backpack. On it were the handwritten words "My Glove Box." He was a little embarassedwhen he realized I was watching him.
He sheepishly smiled and said "I used to have a car. I always kept gloves in the glove box. Now I can do it again." He thanked me and told me I had made his day. I don't really know if he understood this, but with tears in my eyes I said, "No sir. It is you who have made mine and I thank you."
It was just one more sign God was giving me that made me know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was being called to do something more than buy a pair of gloves and socks for someone I didn't know. I had to somehow get the attention of the nation to "Be the change" and help the homeless all around the world. And so, on a cold day in December, The Change-for-Life seed was planted.