That is the number one question we are asked. It’s a simple enough question. However, Exodus Place
has never been about the ‘what.’ We are about the ‘why
.’ Hello, my name is Brent Webster, Community Relations at Exodus Place.
I would like to share with you a ‘why
’. It is found in John’s story:
John came to Exodus Place in November of last year. He has been a constant reminder for the staff of the ‘why.’ Over the past few months, John and I have developed a relationship. This began when John would address me as “Sir” or “Mr. Webster.” I always responded, “You don’t have to call me ‘Sir.’ I work for a living. Call me ‘Brent.’” John would smile, then proceed to call me Sir or Mr. Webster anyway.
One morning, John asked if he could meet with me, and I told him, “Yes, but it would need to be around 3:30.” During that day, John sent me a few emails from the front desk where he works as part of our workforce development staff. When I would spell his name in the email response I would spell his name “Jon”.
Finally, before we met for the meeting, he asked me if I was afraid of the letter “h”. I told him no, why? He then wrote back that I had been spelling his name wrong all day, and thought I might have an unhealthy fear of the letter “h” and proceeded to offer me assistance in finding a good therapist.
When I read that response I began to laugh out loud to the point of tears and catching my breath. Now I was really looking forward to our meeting. When John came into my office he and I had a good laugh. I asked John how I could help. He went on to tell me that he wanted to do something for Exodus Place. I said, “What do you mean?” He went on to say he wanted to give back, and offered to help me work on something. I said I would love the help.
I invited him to help me work on a project for some of the veterans at Exodus Place.
He said, “Yes, sir!” The way he said it caught my attention. It reminded me of my father telling me how he answered his Sargent in the Army when he was young. I asked John, “Were you in the military?” With a quiet smile, he nodded yes.
This took me by surprise, but should not have thinking back to our conversations. I found out that John served from 1999 to 2003, right out of high school. I now listened on with excitement as he began to open up to me about his past. For the next half hour, John told me about how he struggled after the military, unable to “fit” in. How he was married once with a wonderful daughter and wife. How he went to prison for 6 ½ years, lost his wife, and how he is not able to see his child because he is poor. All this, plus he had no idea of the mental illness that contributed to his substance abuse as a way to cope with the voices in his head.
I was in shock. I thought to myself how could this seemingly “normal” guy have experienced all this in his short life? He was only in his mid-thirties! Humbled by his honesty and this demonstration of his trust in me, I realized John seemed uncomfortable. I asked John if he was ok.
“Yes,” he said nervously. He asked if it was okay to roll his sleeves up.
“Why?” I asked.
He said it was better to show me than tell me.
“Tell me what?” I asked.
He proceeded to slowly roll up both long sleeves on his shirt. He exposed deep scars on his arms that had resulted from cutting himself. Mixed in were also large wounds from burning his arms with cigarettes. I was speechless and began to tear up.
John said, very matter of fact, “Since coming to Exodus Place I have stopped doing this to myself. I feel safe here. This is why I want to help Exodus.”
I will never forget that day as long as I live. Every day, we are privileged at Exodus Place to come alongside men like John who, like all of us, have souls and deserve dignity. Currently, we have over 100 men in our facility who are looking for your ‘whys?’ We would love to see you give John and our other residents a “Hand up,” whether giving of your time, money or both we encourage you to be a part of the answer to the question ‘why.’ We would love to show you around. Schedule your ‘why’ tour today. Donate Today at www.exodusplace.org
become a part of the "Why."