No Longer a Prisoner

It’s been a great summer at the Dartmouth building. We hosted our first fundraiser, received a prestigious award from the Chamber of Commerce, and set a new singlemonth record for furniture deliveries with 76 families served in July. And during the last week of August, we welcomed 50 new student volunteers as part of freshman orientation week at area colleges.
What I remember most, though, is the wonderful people we met during deliveries…people like Ronnie from Fall River.
Fellow staff member Ben Williams and I were joined by Katie McMakin, a long-time Easton volunteer and an adjustment counselor at New Bedford’s Renaissance Community School, along with a crew of current and former Bishop Stang students—Mary Carroll, Delilah Johnson, Allison Leary, and her brother Owen.
When Ronnie opened his door, he was surprised to see six of us crowded in his hallway. “Oh, I don’t know if we can do this today,” Ronnie said. “I have too much going on right now.”
It wasn’t until Ronnie invited me into his bedroom to talk that I realized the incredible stress he was under. He was babysitting his five-year-old grandson, his wife was in the hospital and that was just the beginning. Ronnie, his wife, his three adult children and his grandson had been homeless for the past two months. To keep a roof over their heads, the six of them squeezed into a single hotel room.
Ronnie worked as a taxi driver and paid for the room each day from his previous night’s earnings. At one point, Ronnie worked 40 days in a row to keep his family off the streets. He was essentially a prisoner to his job.
While his nerves were frayed, he agreed they needed furniture and we could make the delivery. Ronnie calmed down instantly when he saw the first new bed come up the stairs. Our group carried in several beds, dressers, a kitchen table with chairs, linens, lamps, dishes, and a complete living room set. The couch was a particularly tight squeeze and when we got it in, Ronnie’s grandson ran excitedly to sit on it first. The furniture was beautiful and it could not have matched the apartment more perfectly.
It was after admiring this new home that we presented Ronnie with the gift of a crucifix. “We were just the delivery people today,” we told him. “This is the man that sent the furniture.” With tears in his eyes, Ronnie thanked us and gave everyone an enormous hug. He clearly received Christ’s love, hope and peace that day.