I don’t consider myself overly religious or sentimental, but this weekend, something amazing happened to my family.
My son Nikk, age 18, graduated from Santa Rosa Academy last Friday, so my wife’s father and stepmother flew in for the occasion. We spent a few days with them, and while I had to work on Saturday, my wife and kids spent the day with them.
They went to Mulligan’s and then back to the hotel for some pool time. I met them at the hotel after work and we said our goodbyes. It was too late to cook anything, so we decided to stop at McDonald’s in Lake Elsinore.
Typically when we go to McDonald’s or any other establishment, I try to go through the drive-through, but something made me want to go inside. I still don’t know exactly what. We ordered our food and I let the kids take Joshuah, 15 months, into the play area.
That’s when we met a young woman and her 6-month-old son. Out of respect for their privacy, I’ll call them Krystal and Lawrence.
While Joshuah and Lawrence got to know each other, I learned that Krystal, age 20, and her boyfriend, age 22, had moved to California a few years ago to pursue a music career and they found themselves working as street performers in Los Angeles. They even found themselves on YouTube. They lived the “starving artist” lifestyle until their little surprise, Lawrence, came along.
Krystal told us they were staying at a hotel down the street, trying their best to make ends meet. She was incredibly upbeat about her situation, and I found her strength of character very admirable. I gave her our phone numbers and told her we had a lot of old baby things that Joshuah was no longer using that we would be happy to give her. She seemed very excited about that, because they had to leave a lot of things behind when they moved to Lake Elsinore.
When my wife and I got home, we both had the same thought. Here was a young woman with all the drive and determination to change her life, but without the means to do it. We had to be part of the solution. We had been close to homelessness ourselves, but were blessed by help from family and friends.
Krystal texted my wife Sunday night to to set up a time for her to come by. We invited them to dinner on Monday night, Memorial Day. The next day, her boyfriend said he couldn’t make it because he had to fix his car for work in the morning, but he asked us to pick up Krystal.
When we got them back to the house, we had dinner and showed Krystal some of the things Joshuah had outgrown. She was smiling from ear to ear. We started to talk more about her situation. Her boyfriend works for a crew that cleans out foreclosed homes, so he has employment, but the motel was costing them $60 minimum per night, which was making it pretty much impossible to save up for a place to rent.
Some people had seen her living there with a baby and threatened to call Child Protective Services -- especially when she didn’t have the $60 for a night at the motel.
I had heard enough. You don’t kick a person when they’re down and trying to get up; you offer them a hand up. The next morning, Jennifer picked up Krystal and Lawrence and they are staying with us until they get on their feet. We have a step by step game plan and we are helping Krystal accomplish each step to help her give her son a better life.
Besides, Joshuah loves his new friend very much.
The moral of the story is not a solicitation of praise, but a challenge to all of you out there. Charity begins at home, so before you chastise somebody for their decisions, ask yourself, what are you doing to be part of the solution?
I know first-hand that most of you will agree, the sense of community in our small city is such that you are not likely to hear this story many other places. That’s just one more thing I love about living in Menifee.
David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every Friday in this space. You may leave comments for him here or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.