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Can Breakfast Save A Life?

I remember quite vividly my first walk to work at 4:30 on a Monday morning. I had just been hired as a barista and was scheduled to train during the opening shift from 5-9 a.m. On that first 25-minute walk to work in downtown Portland, I passed no fewer than seven men sleeping, either under trees and awnings or on the sidewalk. The first person I passed startled me; it was dark and I had walked within two feet of him and not even noticed until he made a sound. The second was similar, as were the next five — each a surprise in an unexpected place.

On Facebook the other day I read a status being passed around by friends from home about a college student who saved a man’s life by saying good morning and buying him a coffee. He was in the process of planning his suicide when she gave him a muffin and cup of coffee for breakfast without any prompt, and inspired him to live another day.

Since starting my new job, I can tell you which doorways and benches are occupied in a three-block radius of my commute, and know exactly where to walk to avoid them. How difficult would it be, and what would it mean for them, to leave someone a breakfast of my own?  I find myself using the excuse that “a poor college student” can’t shoulder the responsibility of helping someone in need.  Maybe this is the attitude that needs to change.

I haven’t found the courage to do anything yet, but I’m hoping that someday I will.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mike Briggs #

    Kate, what a charming anecdote and charitable story. You must be a very kind and compassionate person. Here is an idea for you. If you are a little worried about dropping off that free breakfast to a stranger by yourself why not bring along a friend? You can share the experience with a friend and will feel (and be) safer in the process.

    Everybody should be as kind as you more often.

    October 19, 2012
  2. Judy Jones #

    Kate,
    Littleton, Colorado was home to a couple of the most generous people I have known. They were like grandparents to me when he was my dad’s boss in Ethiopia. Because of her example and my experiences of being a walker, I stop to ask if someone needs a ride when I pass them walking up my steep hill or carrying a heavy load or dealing with nasty weather. You have the seed of generosity & courage growing in you, too. It is like an adventure, sharing with another person. Is it something you would do for a friend? This sleeping person is like the seed of a new friend, ready to grow on you :) When we treat each other with respect, we elicit more reactions of trust. Thank you for sharing your wonderings & wanderings.
    Judy Jones

    November 10, 2012
    • Kate Jensen #

      Judy,
      Thank you for the response! It’s a small world when you know people from Littleton :) My favorite thing about the spirit of giving is that it is so contagious! We have been infected and should try to spread it around as much as we can. It sounds like you already have. Thanks for sharing!
      Kate

      November 13, 2012

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