United Way & Ben*

Happy Friday!! I’m so glad the end of the week is here! It will be so nice to sit on the couch tonight with nothing hanging over my head for Tomorrow morning!!!

Last night I stayed up late baking for a bake sale at work today. I work for Chase Bank & they are big supporters for United Way. There have been NUMEROUS ways to donate – either time or money, to UW the past couple of weeks. I do not have a lot of money to give, but I have given some time. I feel like UW is a great cause and I’m happy to have been involved, but I feel like there are needs a little closer to home, especially after our outing last night.

Last night, we went to a local restaurant to eat. I’d eaten there a few times, but Joey hadn’t. I suggested it, and he agreed. He has two students that work there, so he thought it’d be fun to visit them.

When we were being seated, Joey asked the owner if either of his students are there so we could sit in there section. The one boy that was a waiter was not there, but the other boy, who I’ll call Ben was, although he is a bus-boy.

When I first saw ben I thought he looked ordinary and a little scrawny. He thought it was so wierd that his principal and family were eating dinner at his workplace. I had never met Ben, nor had he met or seen Jaxon and I before. We were sitting at the back of the restaurant close to where Ben was sitting doing his homework and waiting for tables to be cleared. I thought “who does there homework at work”. I made a comment to Joey (not making fun of Ben, but just in general), something referring to him being geeky and doing his homework instead of socializing. I quickly ate my words when Ben’s story unfolded in front of me.

I am already emotional just typing this…. Ben is a 17 year old boy (he JUST turned 17). He is going to Joey’s school by scholarship (it’s a private school). He lives with his mother, who is now a single mom becuase Ben’s dad walked out on them a little while ago. His mother has been through several jobs and cannot seem to find “the one”. They recently had to move to the next town over, to a less expensive living arrangement. It is just Ben & his mother at home. Every day after school Ben walks about 3 miles from the school to the restaurant. School gets out around 3 and he gets picked up from work at 10:00pm. You see, Ben has to work this much, because it pays the rent. He is the “man of the house”.

Joey asked Ben if he could take a break, and sit and eat with us. Joey offered to buy him a meal. He was so reluctant saying that he couldn’t ask that of us. We told him that he didn’t ask, and we’d really like to have dinner with him. Ben has worked at this restaurant for 3 months and has never eaten there. He gets a discount, but even that is not enough. This broke my heart. Something that I think would be so thoughtless (to have a meal at work), was not at all that simple. Ben knew what he wanted to order. He said it was the thing that smelled the best back in the kitchen. Ben finally got to taste the food that he’d been clearing tables of the half-eaten portions of for 3 months. During his meal, Jaxon was smiling at him at “getting him” with his fork. Ben thought it was funny. Joey noted later, that he hadn’t seen Ben eat lunch all week, and we knew that he hadn’t been eating dinner, when was he eating? No wonder he is so skinny.

During dinner Ben opened up about a little more of his life. He is struggling to figure everything. He realizes that he is not living a “normal” high school life, especailly on that most at his private school are living. Ben said that yesterday during bible class at school they were having a prayer group & he finally broke down and started crying. My heart was just hurting so bad for him. I tried to relate to him just about little things, to try and make him feel a little better about his situation. I told him about how I didn’t get a car until I was 18 (and Joey proceeded to tell him that I wrecked it shortly afterward!). The main thing that he understand is that God has control over his life. He is praying to God daily and trying to live a pleasing life.

I wanted to hug Ben when we were leaving. I patted him on the shoulder and told him to hang in there & hopefully we’d see him soon. When we walked out of the restaurant, I was not the same. Tears were welling up & my outlook on my life was totally different. Little things seemed so irrelavent. So, although I am glad I am able to donate baked goods for the UW today, it is bittersweet because I really wanted to take that money spent on ingredients and give it to Ben.

Please say a prayer for Ben and his mother today.

Here are the pictures of the goodies I made. I encourage you to make something or do something simple for someone hurting this weekend.

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