Court Cashman recounts his first experience in reaching out to a homeless person, and how Macpack changed both of their lives.
Just over a year ago, I took over what I felt to be a very important role with Macpack. We are quickly approaching the first anniversary of the passing of our amazing friend Ryan Reddick. He was such a great guy and friend to so many–the first time we met we were up until the wee hours just chatting. That night has turned into great fortune for me personally, with friendships gained, and so much more retained. I was honored to join Mackpack to continue Ryan’s good work.
Claudia, Eryn, and I are truly thankful for the generosity of friends and family to keep Macpack going, and I know Ryan would be thrilled with how so many have come together to assist. Because of your support and generosity, we were recently able to assemble one dozen Macpacks for distribution. On Wednesday, June 22nd, I had my first person-to-person experience of the impact for which Macpack was created.
That evening while en route to some friends for dinner in NE Austin, I found myself at a stoplight at Highway 183 and Loyola. At 6:00 p.m., the temperature was a brutal 97 degrees. I saw a woman slightly older than myself on the corner holding a hand-made sign. The sign simply said, “Anything would help.” I admit with great shame, that I looked at her judgmentally. Suddenly, a piece of Ryan slapped me on the back of the head. I pulled off the road and asked the woman if we could chat. I introduced myself, and then asked her what she was doing out in the heat. I’ve always considered myself pretty good at reading people. Her eyes spoke of genuine disparity and the dire situation she was in. She told me she had only been in Austin for a week when a domestic issue pushed her out into the streets. She had been sleeping in the nearby woods with some folks who had welcomed her in to their company and gave her a sleeping bag. She had nothing with her but what she was carrying in her pockets. I asked if some water, sunscreen, and a hat would help protect her from the heat. She immediately answered, “You have no idea!!!” I reached into my backseat, grabbed a Macpack, and told her what she would find inside. She looked at me with sheer joy and then asked if I knew where she could find shelter out of the heat, and she said she hadn’t been so lucky that day. I gave her some money for bus fare to get to the nearest shelter. The she asked me, ”Can I hug you? You are truly a gift from God.” I gave her directions to the nearest bus stop, and she said, “I’m going right now!” I got in my car and waited until she safely crossed the highway. As I pulled away, she gave me a wave and a huge smile.
As I continued up the highway, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears for this woman who found herself in an untenable situation through no fault of her own. Quite honestly, some of those tears were due to the unexpected satisfaction of doing something for a fellow human being in need. I would never have guessed how deep an impact this experience would have for me. I immediately called Eryn, and her first reaction was, “What’s wrong?” I said, “Nothing’s wrong, I just had an amazing experience.”
Driving home later that evening, I realized how incredibly fortunate so many of us are. We have a reliable income, shelter, food, and luxuries in life that we don’t even really need. For those of you who have not yet had the Macpack experience, I invite you to join us via donations, helping assemble and distribute Macpacks, and share the incredible and humbling experience of potentially changing that one person’s life. Thank you!