April 25, 2011
In my life I have had many life changing experiences. Many people have changed my life for good and bad, and I would like to believe that I have had an impact on some of the people around. But there is one instance that comes to mind when I’m asked about someone that has changed my life forever. His name was Charlie and I was there to help him, but in the end he made a bigger impact on my life than I could have ever expected.

It was around Christmas time and everything was engulfed in a beautiful white blanket of snow. I was waiting in my toasty warm car, not quite ready to face the bone chilling weather that was waiting for me outside. As the clock on my dashboard clock struck five o’clock I realized that I could no longer put off avoiding the cold winter weather of Colorado. So I gathered all that I would need while feeding the homeless in down-town Denver and slowly entered the “winter wonderland.” As I came out of my car I saw the bus full of cheerful volunteers pull into the middle school parking lot. I hopped on board and we were soon on our way through the treacherous icy roads to our destination, which seemed like a million miles away at the time.
Before I knew it we had arrived at our destination, the Red Cross foundation. As everybody including me began unpacking the van, and transporting all of the food into the dining hall I noticed the big vibrant red symbol of the Red Cross. At this time of year it seemed sort of festival and it stood out brilliantly against the fluffy white snow. Every one of my church friends along with myself felt very dedicated to helping out the people that had no other choice but to stay at the shelter. But little did I know, someone was going to change my view of life forever.

All of us volunteers worked in sync and it only took us a short while before everything was set up and ready to go. We all had our designated areas and tonight mine was the drink station, which I enjoyed very much because it gave me the opportunity to talk with everyone, that was what made everything worth it, getting to talk to them and try and make there day just a little better, even though I doubted that I could do that, it was what I was specifically here for. I heard the pastor’s father say that it was almost dinner time and that there were more people than was expected. I could here the worry and panic in his voice as he said it, he never showed that he was worried but I could tell that he was secretly panic stricken because he was worried that we wouldn’t have enough food for all. As I was consumed in my own thoughts, the shuffle of people coming down the stairs snapped me back down to earth. And I readied myself to do my job; serve the homeless.
It was about half way through the dinner service and I was shuffling around refilling drinks. That’s when I met him. He was eating and chatting quietly among his friends. I asked him and the people around him if they would like a refill. I had passed by this table many times and refilled their drinks many times before. But this time he asked what my name was, I said Courtney. He was very polite, and he said his name was Charlie. It amazed me that a person going through everything that he was, could be so polite. As I was off in my own world, contemplating how someone could be so put together and hopeful when they lived on the streets, that’s when he changed my life he told me “young lady I’m honored to have had the opportunity to meet such a wonderful and kind girl like you, I bet your parents are very proud. Just in the last hour that I have been here, it seems as though you have made everybody in the room including myself feel like we are welcome here and loved, and I would like to thank you for that. I hope you have a great evening and god bless you.” At that moment I was stunned, I had never knew that me being there and helping feeding them made a difference. I had always wondered if volunteers could make a difference in somebody’s life, or if they just did what they did to make themselves feel better. But that night I realized that I could make a difference and that confirmed to me why I was there, to help who I could and feed all.
I will remember Charlie forever, he was a kind old man who had the most unbelievable faith I had ever witnessed in my life. He taught me to never feel like there is no hope. When ever I feel like things in my life could never improve and that things were just going down hill from here, I think of Charlie and I remember his beautiful smile that he showed me even though he was sleeping on the streets.

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