As I stood at the back of the warehouse talking to different people. I was introduce to Randy as one of the men that is a source of information. I shook his hand and asked, “If I can ask him some questions regarding his experience at the Hope Center.” He shrugged his shoulders and politely asks if I mind if he smokes. “I don’t mind at all” I replied. He leads me away from the doors, near the rubbish bins in between the buildings. He lights up his cigarette as I quietly do a quick study of the man standing before me.
He is tall in stature, and incredibly humbled. My first question, “If you had one phrase or word to explain your time with the Hope Center what would it be?” He doesn’t miss a beat, he replied, “A Blessing”. I am curious how he has ended up on the streets and how he ended up in Oroville. He begins his story with, I came on a road trip with a friend to visit his family in the area. We broke down and then life happened. He tried to find work, however truth be told as an ex-con it can be difficult. He originally came to the Hope Center for emergency food services 9 years ago. He has been around off and on since then. He had stories of how the ministry had grown and changed over the years. What impressed me the most, was when I heard the pride in his voice when he said, “I do whatever I can to help out, I don’t expect a free ride.” He was honored and humbled when speaking of the different relationships with different staff and volunteers.
When we finished our conversation, I ask if I could take his picture. He seemed surprised but agreed quickly. I took a couple of different shots to pick the best one, and asked if he wanted to see them when I was done. The look of joy and surprise on his face when he says, “Hey those turned out pretty good.” We shook hands and he offers, “If you need anything else, I will be around.” And he walked away, back inside to help.