I got more than I bargained for on a recent Wednesday morning.
I went to a networking breakfast. You know I love to network, but that’s not the reason I go to these morning events.
I go for the speaker. If there’s a good speaker scheduled, then I go, network a little, listen to the speaker, go home and write a story for the next issue of this fine publication.
That’s what I do, you know.
I was looking forward to hearing Jon Bailey speak during a recent Wednesday morning at the Royse City networking breakfast. We have lots of Rockwall County Helping Hands stories in our newspapers, but I haven’t written any of them recently. That means I haven’t heard their story recently.
Jon is the president and chief executive officer. The last time I heard him speak was months ago. His audience was Rockwall County commissioners and, yes, it was one of those presentations filled with numbers and deep, not-so-interesting details.
His presentation during the networking breakfast was different. He got my attention. He talked about people and real-life situations. I stopped being a reporter. I became a civilian, listening, nodding in agreement occasionally. And I started thinking. I became personally involved in what he was saying. I identified with what he was saying.
“Most people are one crisis away,” Jon said. “Most everybody is one crisis away from disaster, from needing to walk through our doors. Everybody in this room, for the most part, is one disaster away.
“You don’t know who that is or what that looks like,” he said, adding that there are no stereotypes when describing the faces of people who reach a disaster state and need services offered by Rockwall County Helping Hands.
One crisis away from disaster. I’ve thought a lot about that. How true. That’s me or it could be me. It’s you or it could be you.
He continued, telling us that there is truth to the “Neighbors helping Neighbors” tag that’s used for the organization’s annual campaign.
“It’s your next-door neighbor,” Jon said of people who find themselves in situations where they may need a helping hand from Helping Hands.
“It’s the husband and wife with two kids,” he said. “Dad just lost his job, not for any of his own reasons, but he lost his job and he’s struggling. He needs help for two months, until he finds another job.
“It’s the single mom who’s trying to make ends meet with two kids, (working hard) but falling short every month,” he added. “It’s the individual who gets diagnosed with cancer and has to go downtown every day for chemotherapy and all the money is going to pay medical bills.”
Yes, that could be me. It could be you.
Let me change that. It has been me. And I believe most of you could say, “Yes, it has been me.”
I try my very best to be transparent in this space. I want to be honest, but not to the point of going overboard. In the life that Becky and I have lived, we’ve had bumps in the road. Many times, we have been one crisis away from disaster. But we’ve also crossed over — from that one crisis to that disaster state.
That’s the reason I was nodding in agreement to what Jon was saying. That’s the reason I became personally involved in what he was saying. I understood exactly what he was saying.
Yes, I did get more than I bargained for that Wednesday morning. I heard a speaker and wrote a decent story about what he said. But here I am exactly one week later still thinking about Jon’s words.
So, where do I go from here?
What a waste it would be, I think, for me to be affected by what he said and do absolutely nothing — except write a story for the newspaper.
First, I’m going to count my blessings. God has richly blessed this man — that would be me — and Becky. In times of crisis, we have family, friends and church. And Helping Hands.
And now I’m at a point where I’m supposed to make some dramatic conclusion with a promise of what I will do after hearing Jon’s presentation. I can’t do that. The best I can do is make a promise to do exactly what I did that Wednesday morning with the networking group. Listen.
Yes, listen, and respond so that I will be a living, breathing part of that “Neighbors helping Neighbors” message.
Jim Hardin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.