Poverty & Homelessness: A Way Out

“I remember that day like it was yesterday. That was the day everything went down,” remembers Bobby Thompson, a former homeless man who came to speak to Spirituality & Ethics and Service Learning classes on Wednesday, February 19th. Thompson was not always homeless. He had a wife, two step kids, and a house and three cars that were fully paid for. Unfortunately for Thompson, his marriage was not working out, and one day he left the house and never returned. He lived in and out of motels for a while, but when he lost his two jobs his money supply began dwindling.
He participated in a program called Job Finder that provides men with daily work and pay. However, some of the other men in the program influenced Thompson that led him down a dark path for a few years.
As he was telling his story to the class, Thompson recalled one specific moment, during which he was sitting on a park bench with his head in his hands, praying “God, please help me,” over and over. From then on, he began getting his life back on track, with the faith and support of a few others.
Today, he has been working at Buncombe Street United Methodist Church for a little over six years. He always wears a smile on his face, probably because he does so much to help the community now that he is back on his feet.
Many students who serve at the John Wesley Breakfast Kitchen see Thompson’s friendly face. Even though he is no longer in need and can support himself, he still visits the Breakfast Kitchen to spend time with some of the guys who are struggling. He also goes down to tent city every morning and hands out Spinx sandwiches to the men before they leave for work. After experiencing such extreme poverty, he says “I just want to make sure I am giving back.” He even holds occasional cookouts that he funds completely out of his own pocket.
Thompson has shared his story numerous times, not only to inspire people who are experiencing homelessness, but also to prove that escape from that lifestyle is possible.