A Lesson in Helping Those in Need
Guest contribution by Caryl Dumaine Lamont ~Munson~
– She said, “Whenever you see someone in need, do what you can to help them”.
– She also said with much emphasis, “Be the one who makes a difference in the world, be kind”.
– These statements from her have stuck in my mind for 27 years.
People have often asked me why I help others for free. Why do I do things for people without expecting anything in return? One person also went as far as to tell me to stop letting people take my kindness for weakness. Well, first off, I do not believe that helping people is a weakness, rather it is a strength. And as to the questions about doing things for others for free, the answer is simple. It is because of the kindness others have done for me that I do the same for those in need.
When I was 19 years old, I spent a few months with my birth mother living on the streets. We had some bad luck and ended up homeless. We both lost our jobs in Portland, Oregon, and were unable to pay our rent, so we had to vacate with nowhere else to go. We tried to get help, but no one was willing, so we left Portland and headed to Grants Pass, a small city in Southern Oregon.
We stayed for a while at my Grandfather’s house while we looked for work, but the economy was not good, so jobs were far and few. My grandfather was having some serious alcohol problems at that time, fighting with his wife on a daily basis. We decided we could not stay with Grandpa anymore. The constant bickering, and the alcoholism was just too much for us to deal with on top of trying to find ways to earn a living.
We left and went to stay for a while at the local Rescue Mission. We were given a place to sleep, and were given fresh meals each day as we continued looking for work. After finding a few temporary jobs, we decided to venture further South, so we went to Thousand Oaks, California in hopes of finding a better life.
During our stay in California, we spent a lot of time looking for jobs, living in alleys, eating from dumpsters behind some of the fast food restaurants. Things got really tough. My mother was able to get a job at McDonalds while I got a job in Burbank working for Hyenco, a security systems company. I worked at that job for a few weeks, and then I went to work for a store called East Wing, which was located at the Glendale Galleria on the East side of Glendale, Ca. I continued working there for nearly three months, and then that job ended.
I went back to Thousand Oaks where my mother was still working for McDonalds, but hit back luck again. Then my mother lost her job. We were back in the same predicament as before, no jobs, no money left, and living in an alley eating from dumpsters again. After a while of serious struggling, we decided to come back to Oregon in hopes of finding our way back into the world of success.
Although our downfalls started in Oregon, we knew our way around better there, and we knew more people there, so we started our journey back up North. We were able to scrounge up enough money, by pan handling, to pay for Grey Hound Bus Tickets to get us as far as Merced, California.
From there we began the hardest part of our journey. We spent nearly one week from that point on hitch hiking, getting rides from strangers, going a few miles here, a few miles there. Several kind people gave us short but helpful rides. Some gave us food and a bit of money to help. The first ride we got was from a man we met at a rest area just outside of Merced. He drove us up to Sacramento. From there we continued as we got numerous short distant rides all the way up to Dunsmuir, Ca.
From there we walked approximately 8 miles up to Mt. Shasta City where it was bitterly cold as this was during the dead of Winter. We spent one night in an old shed-type school bus shelter there at Mt. Shasta. The snow was several feet deep. I thought my mother and I would freeze to death, but somehow we made it through the night. In the early morning we ventured back out, got to the Freeway, and started hitch hiking again.
Then we got a ride from a woman named Heather down from Shasta to a town called Weed, just a few miles North, and there we met a very kind Truck Driver who called herself Dream Weaver. Dream Weaver’s real name was Lori Ann Singleton, and she lived in Arkansas, she was running deliveries across the country. She helped us make the rest of our journey back to Oregon, using her C.B to contact fellow Truckers to arrange our final rides to Portland.
This wonderful Lady, out of the kindness of her heart, gave us enough money to keep us going for at least two months until we could get back on our feet and find a home. Now, as we were getting ready to move on with the next driver, I asked for Dream Weaver’s mailing address so I could eventually save enough money to pay her back for her kindness. She gave me the address and said to write her to let her know when we were financially stable, but not to send her any money. She said the best way to pay her back was to always remember her kindness and to do the same for others. She said, “Whenever you see someone in need, do what you can to help them”. She also said with much emphasis, “Be the one who makes a difference in the world, be kind”.These statements from her have stuck in my mind for 27 years. Her words and her actions had such a great impact on my life in more ways than I know how to express.
That is among many reasons why I help others when I can. Helping others because someone helped me. It is my way of paying back a stranger for her kindness and generosity. It is something I will do as long as I live.
Now, just to be clear, Dream Weaver was only one of the people who helped mold me into the person I am today. There were many influential people in my life. And two of the most wonderful people I can mention in this regard were my adopted parents, Sayeng and Taylong. They taught me to be kind to everyone, and above all, they taught me to forgive and to love unconditionally. Without their guidance, where would I be today? Dream Weaver, Sayeng, and Taylong played the most positive roles in my life, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Caryl Dumaine Lamont ~Munson~
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