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Todd Beller
2 months ago
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In gratitude.

This post is pretty long. You don’t need to read it. It’s essentially a tribute for two people who saved my life

I got a lovely email today from a couple who employed me many years ago. It was one of those situations where they showed up at the (exact) right time.

When I was a kid, I came home from school to a note on the table that my mom had taken off to the Bahamas. She said that she would be back in three years. She “ran into this great opportunity to dive with the Jaques Cousteau expedition and live there”. She was doing stuff like this ever since I can remember. I have a young daughter and I can't even imagine leaving her alone for a night.

The rules of the apartment where we lived in the projects noted that an adult over 18 years old needed to live with you in order for people younger than 18 to reside in the dwelling. I didn’t want to be homeless, so I figured out a way to make it look like my mom still lived there. Eventually, the ownership group got wind of my mom and her vacation, so they collected everything in the apartment, separated it into bags, labeled it, placed it outside the door and locked the door, essentially making me homeless. Everything I owned fit into a backpack and a duffel bag. I took what was of value in our apartment, and sold that at a pawnshop.

Being homeless sucks, and I’m not sure about anybody else, but my biggest concern wasn’t food or taking a shower, it was making sure that people didn’t stab me while I was sleeping. If you’ve worked with homeless people, you know that comes up a lot.

Months later I found a abandoned building. It was a shooting den at one time, but the management group came in and cleared out everything. It was essentially an empty building that was swept and patched. There was no heat or electricity, so while everything was closed and the doors locked, it could get down to about 45° in the winter.

I made my way to a homelessness support group. I felt pathetic because I’m just a kid and people saw me as white trash and my mom decided to take off.

There were kids there, including sizable number of adults. I wasn’t sure if they were there to supervise us or to offer emotional support, or they were related to people in the group, I never knew. I also didn't know if they were homeless. But, I had an idea to try something: When they were looking for people to speak, I raised my hand and I said “ my name is Todd, and it’s not a surprise to anyone being homeless absolutely sucks. So, if there’s anybody here who is willing to let me sleep on the floor in a warm place, I will clean your bathroom every day. Perhaps you need your bathroom cleaned and you want the rest of the house done. I’ll work 14 hours a day as long as I can find a space to sleep on the floor. If someone else is willing to feed me, I will clean the gutters I will move appliances to do deep cleaning and I will wax your floor every day. I am literally willing to do anything."

At the end of the meeting a guy approached me and he said, “were you serious about cleaning the bathroom every day?” When I told him that I would do whatever he asked for in return for a place to sleep, he said, “ I understand you’re handy at repairing stuff. If you repair my computer equipment and all of the sound equipment and some other broken stuff in my church, not only will I give you a warm place to sleep, but I will feed you and give you spending money“. That sounded like a great opportunity. I made a commitment to myself that I would do way more than he asked, I would under promise and over deliver, and I wouldn’t wait for him to tell me what to do or to write a list.

One day in the spring after spending 10 hours outside weeding the garden in the church, I came in and the pastor handed me an envelope. He had decided to hire me; in the envelope was my paycheck, in cash. I was really touched, blown away, and beyond grateful. He told me that he and his wife knew that if they didn’t hire me, somebody else would and that he would be losing a great employee. One thing I didn’t know about the pastor and his wife, is that they owned a pizza place. He never mentioned it, I didn’t have any idea. However, since I lived in the neighborhood, I would occasionally get pizza from that place. It is likely that as a kid I was made up of 50% water and 50% pizza.

After I got up and ate breakfast, I would spend five hours at the church working on whatever project. Eventually people started to bring me stuff to repair. I understood the pastor mentioned (during his service) that he hired someone to repair electronics for people brought in their stuff. After the time at the church, I would go to the pizzeria. Again, I decided I would under-promise and over-deliver, I wouldn’t complain, and I would outwork everybody. I never hung out with most of the people who worked there because most of the time they just wanted to drink or attend house parties or whatever, "AND DRINK". It was just never my thing. When the restaurant closed, the pastor and his wife along with one other employee would have dinner. And they always said, “ Todd, time to stop, it’s time to eat..” it was a lovely thing to do, especially as I never really had any family.

People that worked in the pizza place and the folks that brought in stuff to repair would routinely ask me where I developed my work ethic. I have absolutely no idea. The only thing I could say is that I was extremely grateful for the kind gesture. I was homeless, these folks made sure I wasn’t, so I just wanted to repay them.

That year, I was invited to their house for Thanksgiving dinner. There was a ton of relatives, and lots of people asked me about my family. It was embarrassing, because people asked about my mom. What am I supposed to say? That she decided to take off? One of the women across from me saw that I was struggling. I understood that she was the pastor's mother-in-law. And loud enough to make sure that everybody heard she said, “oh my gosh, so as a small baby you were in an orphanage, but you were raised by the people who loved you, and unfortunately they passed away.” and you have done so well for yourself." That became the entire focus versus any of the previous garbage that I endured with my mom. I am eternally grateful for that woman for intervening. It was merely a 10 second exchange, but her kindness was overwhelming.

I learned that one of the main reasons the pastor and his wife decided to help me was because they had a son about my age that passed away. A year prior to meeting me the pastor said that he and his wife prayed for some sort of comfort and relief. I show up, they see that as a message their son is ok, and that simply my presence was healing for them.

When I got the email today, this couple asked me about my life and what I was doing. I told them that I was running a behavioral health hospital and treatment facility and whatever else. They started to tell me about their foster daughter who they adopted and her difficulties with chemical use. They asked me about the program and the cost. “Actually, I’m not gonna charge you anything. Your daughter can stay as long as she needs, and if you wanna place her in our recovery house we will cover that. Just let me know the date that she’s coming and I will have one of the women that works for me reach out to you to tell you which plane flight she will be taking. You will never get a bill, you will never have to worry about the co-pays, you will never have to worry about the cost to feed her or the charge for the recovery house, her medication or anything else she needs. There’s literally no way I could ever accept money from you. You saved my life, you acted like my family, and you made sure I had a place to live and food to eat. I will never be able to repay that, but I can do this."

I have worked really hard, and I think the fruits of my labor are evident, and I have been rewarded based on what I have been able to accomplish. However, I am keenly aware that we don't get to where we want without help. I am sure that without question, I'd not be here if that couple never helped me. I'd likely be dead. They didn't need to help me, but they did. They didn't need to be kind, but they were. They didn't need to feed me, but they saw abundance by helping people develop that in their own life.

They got to meet my daughter (virtually) and sent me an email telling me they were putting together a care package for her. Their kindness is amazing. I am really lucky and blessed.

Thanks for reading my post.

Sent from my iPhone #workfromhome #interview #application #coronavirus #healthcare #resume #jobsearch

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Elizabeth Ynoa

May God always blessed you and your daughter..Angels come in different forms.. I am happy for you and you are blessing from God . I love your story it’s inspirational and sad but God always comes through. Have a beautiful and blessed life and May that couple be in heaven with God for the deed they did🙏🙏😇😇!!!

8w
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Sandra Matulich

I am so glad I read your amazing story, you are a true miracle! These types of stories almost always end up with either jail or drugs or both. The wonderful people that blessed you with a home and we're a family to you should have a special place in heaven rite next to you. Good job in life my friend!

8w
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Sharon McCowin

Great story that just goes to show how compassion love and support can (& should) come from anyone at any time and make a huge difference in someones life. This Couple is an inspiration to humanity and a great example of how we should all look after each other.

8w
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Stephanie Kana

This is an amazing true story. Have you ever thought to put your life story into screenplay or book form? It's just a humble idea, but I believe you could inspire thousands if not millions by those means. You have a wonderful way of expressing yourself already, so why don't you try writing up your experiences, the good and the bad?

8w
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María José Carrillo

Just an amazing story. Thank you sharing!!!

8w
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Linda Walker

Readers Digest magazine prints articles like this and will pay you for this article. Check it out and see. Your article could help someone else like you to better their life also. Also your story, I read it, will inspire others also to never give up as God opens up doors for those that needs it. You have to wait and be patient, God sometimes never answers right away, but in his own time.

8w
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Jacqueline Janis

Thank you for sharing. It made me cry. I feel there are not good people in this world. Your story shows that there are still good people left

8w
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Paul Baker

Bless you Todd!

8w
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Bryce Ambo

Thank you so much for sharing you story. It truly warms my heart.

8w
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Barbara Blake

What a great and gracious man. God Bless you

6w
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