Two years ago, a patient came into an emergency room in a local hospital. The patient complained of serious pain, but the doctor quickly realized that the patient was in the depths of addiction and was drug-seeking. The doctor refused to give the medicine and the patient became violent, grabbing a scalpel and attacking the doctor. At the last second, a security guard had to restrain the patient, preventing the patient from stabbing the doctor – or even worse.
Two years later, we’re not sure what’s become of the patient. But we do know about the security guard, James – he’s one of our kids. The hospital recognized James for his bravery and gave him an award, which, to this day, hangs on the wall of one of our buildings.
Because of his heroism, James quickly became well-known throughout our Covenant House community. But the depths of his bravery are only truly understood by those who know how James came to be part of our family. He was living with his mother, little brother, and little sister.
His mother lost her job and the family, unable to pay rent, became homeless. They moved from the street to shelter and back again as they tried to get back on their feet. Finally, there was a ray of hope – a program had an opening for a family apartment. But when they arrived that day to complete the paperwork, the caseworker advised that there was a problem.
Because James was 18, the program’s rules didn’t allow him to live in the apartment with his family. James decided, then and there, that it was more important for his mother and little brother and sister to have a safe place to live, and he chose – he chose – not only to be homeless, but to be alone.
Luckily, he found us soon after. He has worked his way through our programs with focus and determination, and is currently chasing his dream of becoming a police officer, a fitting career for someone like James whose bravery and courage inspires us each and every day.