An old homeless man sets his mind to giving back to the orphanage he grew up in, but those who watched over the place discouraged him because of his looks.
Oliver Cross was 70, and he had lived a majority of his life on the streets, moving from shelter to shelter while trying his best to live happily with his lot in life.
He fancied himself an urban nomad, never staying too long in a single place, making his homes everywhere possible, including under the bridge, in an abandoned house, near a dump, and so on.
However, there was something special about Oliver Cross. Something that separated him from the caliber of other homeless men who roamed the streets — he was a hard worker.
It was a supposing quality that should have ensured his exit from life on the streets a long time ago, but for some reason, Oliver never seemed to be doing better year in, year out. It was like the money kept vanishing into thin air.
Sometimes the enigmatic man would be seen with his little can begging for alms; other times, he would be found doing the dirty work for some pennies.
When he wasn’t doing either of those, he would be in the garbage dumps hunting for some treasure he could sell.
Oliver avoided alcohol, unlike other men living a nomadic life, and his life drew speculation from other beggars and some of the people who took notice of him.
“Why does he still beg when he can work?” some people would ask.
“All the money he makes from those petty jobs probably go to drugs,” others would say.
But Oliver did not care. He would simply keep living his way, doing all he thought was right, even on days when everyone around laughed and humiliated him — they had no idea he was simply saving up, but for what?
It went on for several more years until one fateful afternoon, a rough-looking Oliver ambled up to the gates of the orphanage where he grew up.
“What do you want here, old man?” the head of security asked him.
They did not want him to get past the gate because of how unkempt he looked. They also knew him as a beggar, and they thought he had no business with the orphanage.
Even after explaining that he had something to donate to the establishment, security still refused to let him pass. Determined to gain entry, Oliver attempted to force his way in, and in response, the security guards called the police.
“I want to help,” Oliver said.
“How can you help us when you look the way you do? Help yourself then we can talk!” the senior guard said.
“Your director’s name is Marianne? Marianne Breadline? Right?” Oliver asked after a few quiet moments of silence.
The guards were surprised that he knew the orphanage overseer’s first and last name, and it gave them pause.
“Get me on the line with her immediately,” the head guard told one of his subordinates who rushed to do his bidding.
They got Marianne on the phone, and she agreed to meet Oliver, but she could not recognize him at first glance. Not that it stopped the man from saying what he had to say.
“You once took care of me when we were younger. You were like an older sister to me when everyone rejected me. 8 years ago I discovered that you now work as a director in this orphanage where we met and were raised. We both know it has never been funded and I know how hard it is for you to keep it afloat so I wanted to help in my little way.”
Marianne was 73 years old and had been his best friend during their childhood. She always took care of him when he needed it, but they had gotten separated after she was adopted.
After his speech, he handed a teary-eyed Marianne a gift check, but she ignored it and hugged him instead.
The check purchased from a famous department store was worth $15,000 which the orphanage could use to buy clothes and toys for their children.
“I know this may not be enough, but I wanted to do something to help you. And the kids,” the homeless man said, making Marianne cry.
She hugged him some more and thanked him for what he had done. But she couldn’t let him go just like that.
“My old friend,” she said. “I always wondered what became of you and I’m happy you turned out to become such a kind-hearted man. If you don’t mind, I’d rather have you help out around here more often — that way you’ll also get to legally occupy one of the rooms built for the workers here. How does being a security guard sound?”
“I couldn’t encroach,” Oliver began to say but was interrupted.
“Nonsense, you belong here, how could you ever encroach,” she said.
They quickly became good friends with Oliver, who impressed them with his hard-working spirit and giving nature. The man remained there, guarding the kids and donating things until he drew his last breath. A life well lived if you ask him.
What did we gain from this story?
Never judge a book by its cover. Oliver looked like a poor homeless person, which is why the guards at the orphanage tried to deny him entry even after he revealed that he just wanted to help. They had all judged him and found him lacking, but he proved them all wrong.
Never forget to give back. Oliver received care from the orphanage as a child, and it made him yearn to give back as an adult even though he had scarce means. He persevered and was able to gather enough to offer, and in return, he found a home.
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