I first met Gerald on the stairs of the abandoned building near the Church where we organized the Powhatan 2021 Food Drive & Event. Two weeks after the event, Gerald was still on my mind.
I didn’t know his address or even if he had a phone, but I still felt driven to find him. So I headed on a 7-hour drive to Powhatan without a plan. When I got there, there he was—on the exact stairs where we first met.
We talked for a long time, and I shared some of my food and money with him. Gerald is a kind man who tries to make others happy in spite of his many health problems. Even though he was in pain, he smiled as we talked. As I listened to his life story, I felt a growing desire to do something nice for him.
The following day, I met with contractor Philip to discuss the best way to help Gerald get electricity and water to his house. Unfortunately, the house wasn’t up to code with regard to water and electricity installation. So we made a new plan to meet next month and fix the problems we saw. We hoped these improvements would be the first step in creating a happy life for him. When I called a month later to arrange the repairs, his brother answered the phone and said that Gerald had suffered a third stroke.
Four days later, on August 21, 2021, I visited Gerald and his brother in his temporary room near the Beckley West Virginia hospital. I tried to cheer him up. I took him to the best restaurant in town for lunch and then to Walmart, where I bought him some food and other supplies. I was sad that I could do nothing more at that point but glad to have spent one more day with my new friends. The house renovation has been put on hold because Gerald’s health is too fragile to handle the stress of a major project. He is still under close medical supervision and living in a temporary room near the hospital. We will continue to do whatever we can to assist him and monitor his progress.