A man named Oscar

Today I got a reminder of why I’m doing the job that I’m doing. As SFBFS’ Communications Officer, much of my time is spent behind a computer communicating to others via our Web site, social media, etc. While I’m surrounded daily with clients learning English, applying for jobs, learning technology skills and taking advantage of other great resources every single day, it’s not often that I get to have one-on-one interaction with our clients or get to know their individual stories. Today was a blessed exception. I had just finished attending our very first garden class offering and was walking back to my desk when a gentleman stopped me on the sidewalk. In Spanish, he asked if I knew if the Clothing program was open. Knowing a tiny bit of Spanish, I was able to understand him and quickly tried out my broken Spanish speaking skills to let him know that the program had in fact closed for the afternoon. He then told that he was simply hoping for a sweater; that it gets cold where he sleeps at night. My heart broke. I had to help this man.

“Let’s get you some help,” I said. “What’s your name?” “Oscar,” he replied. We then walked across the street together to visit SFBFS’ newly renovated Clothing program. Several staff were still there sorting and organizing and I asked if we could help out Oscar. “No problem,” said LT, Tasha and Freddie. This is what I love about SFBFS. No one even hesitated. Yes, our official program hours dictated that we were closed, but this man simply wanted a sweater to keep him warm. After a bit of shopping, Oscar told me he had recently just moved here from New Orleans and was staying at a men’s home nearby until he could find a job and somewhere to live. Oscar quickly picked out his sweater and was ready to go when our staff chimed in, “Is that it? Don’t you need some pants? Maybe a long sleeve shirt? Some socks?” The compassion I see working at this organization gives me all the feels I must admit. Oscar left with two long sleeve shirts, two sweaters, 1 jacket, a pair of pants and some socks. The look on his face was priceless. He kept saying “Thank you. Thank you so much, ma’am.” I was only happy I could help.

Before he left, I made sure to tell Oscar about all the great resources we have here at SFBFS and that I would love to see him back here and taking some classes with us. I can’t be 100% sure he’ll be back, but it felt good to know he might, and that the actions of a few strangers could have helped make this man’s day a little brighter and his nights a little warmer.

Submitted by SFBFS’ Communications Officer,

Elise Hawkins