Meet Bill, a gentle soul who’s had a tough start to life.
Bill, 47, stood on the other side of the fence alone. He was grasping his pillow and bedding mat but had no blankets. He wasn’t looking for attention or demanding any resources — he was just lonely.
When first approached, he didn’t ask for anything — just said he wanted to watch the volunteers because being so close to them made him feel included.
Bill said, “You’ll never die of starvation in Sydney, but you can from the cold.” We gifted him with one of the zero-degree sleeping bags for which he was grateful. He loved the colours and how compact it was.
Bill had been on the streets this time for a little over 6 months. He’d been here before for years but managed to get put in a homeless refuge where he was fed, had a permanent bed and stayed warm.
Unfortunately, for him, he started a fight with a man who was abusing a woman in the shelter. He knew the rules about fighting in shelters, and although he was doing the right thing he is at peace with being back out on the streets for his decision.
Bill grew up knowing no love from any parent or relative. He was reminded daily that he was a mistake, he wasn’t meant to be here, that he’d amount to absolutely nothing. He reminds himself daily that they were right.
His earliest memory of childhood was being beaten to a pulp at the age of 6 — he was repeatedly hit with pieces of timber, belt buckles and other hard items when his folks were drunk. He was made to stand up straight with his arms behind his back and not move. When he flinched hours later, his uncle would put his cigarettes out on his body.
Bill left home at the age of 14, seeking respite from his own family. He spent a lot of time in foster homes, made poor decisions with social circles trying to fit in, and found himself lost early in life.
Bill struggled to walk — he told us he was drunk one night and was walking on the roof of Central Station. He slipped, fell 15 metres to a concrete path below where he shattered both of his legs. He spent 12 months in hospital and had to learn to walk again. When the Dr told him he’d never be able to run again, he pleaded for them to cut both his legs off at the shin so that he could get prosthetics. He couldn’t face the reality of not being able to play touch footy again — a sport he recounted with passion.
Bill is the father of a 12 year old boy. He had an old photo in his wallet of him when he was just 6 months old……that was the last time he saw him. He said he hoped that he was smart — because if he was he wouldn’t end up like his father.
After a long chat, Bill headed off. He turned and thanked me for the bag, the conversation and said he’d look forward to next Tuesday.
These stories are the hardest to hear but the greatest sources of motivation for change. Additionally, they are the reminder of how fragile life really is.
I challenge you to help people like Bill. If we can’t put a roof over their head, why not join me in making sure they’re tucked up warm at night, wherever they are.
Change starts with one. Be the one.
Visit pointsforpurpose.org to purchase sleeping bags for the homeless using either your excess frequent flyer points or with cash.
Changing the world, one point at a time.
#pointsforpurpose #happiness #kindness #equality #hope #peace #love