“My wife and I were in Grand Rapids visiting with Ken Faber, a vintage Airstream collector who has expressed interest in giving many restored Airstreams to the vintage Airstream museum that I oversee in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
We were exiting 131 at Pearl Street when we observed a young lady holding a sign on the sidewalk adjacent to the exit ramp. Because of the bad lighting, it was difficult to make out the words on her character, but as we approached the red light, I made out the phrases ‘Pregnant’ and ‘Hungry.’
I turned to my wife Emily and informed her what I had read, and we pulled over to the side of the road near the Holiday Inn. We felt we had to buy her dinner at the very least, and Emily began looking into booking a hotel room at the Holiday Inn if she needed one.
We passed a paraplegic man on a bike as we walked towards her. We approached her, assured her we would assist her, and told her she didn’t need to stay out there any longer.
We offered to buy her dinner at this moment and crossed the street. She introduced us to her husband, Rob, who has paraplegia we had just passed. Emily, my wife, took their orders and followed them into the Pearl Street Grill.
We had takeout that we planned to eat in our hotel room, which was ironic. We ate together on the sidewalk as we waited for their food to arrive.
I inquired as to where they resided and why they were without assistance. Jewel explained how she was adopted as the tenth kid and has lost touch with her family. She had lost her job at a gas station about a month prior and had been hunting for work ever since. Jewel and Rob had married ten days before, on August 9th.
She found out she was expecting shortly after COVID was released earlier this year. It was a miracle baby for them, as their physicians had advised them that their chances of becoming pregnant were exceedingly slim owing to Rob’s health issues.
Rob said he was keeping a close check on her because he didn’t want her to be kidnapped. He is awaiting government aid for his disability. He explained that they are renting a small room in a house off Pearl Street and that they had lately gotten an eviction notice despite having paid the previous month’s rent.
Rob had been paralyzed from the waist down after a horrific vehicle accident 11 years before. However, he has been in therapy for the past 11 years and has regained some leg function. He is attempting to re-learn how to walk, and Jewel has been assisting him.
They informed us that they had been surviving on leftover cheese and a bag of nuts given to them by a neighbor and had no food or money. Jewel also only has one pair of suitable clothing, which she has been wearing every day for the past month. They were also soiled clearly.
They’d been out for two hours and had received a one-dollar gift, but many others laughed at her, pointed at her, and ignored her the rest of the time.
Jewel has seizures regularly. Rob and Jewel cannot drive owing to health issues, so they walk (and Rob bikes) around the neighborhood to get about.
Rob told us that he had some help from his grandmother, who lives nearby, but they were too ashamed to ask for food or money. That’s why they made the sign and went out on the street to ask for assistance.
One thing that stood out to us was that Rob and Jewel were extremely upbeat individuals. They refuse to be defined by their financial difficulties.
We told Jewel and Rob after dinner that we would purchase them some gift cards from the local Meijer. So we lifted Rob’s bike into the back of our truck and assisted him in settling in with Jewel in the rear seat. The Meijer gas station was only a 4-minute drive away.
We strolled in with Jewel, and I asked her about neighboring eateries where they loved to dine. We purchased $300 in Subway gift cards, $200 in Burger King gift cards, and $1,000 in Meijer gift cards to ensure that they had food for the rest of the pregnancy.
When we told the cashier we wanted to put $1,000 on the Meijer gift card; it was the most significant moment of the night. Jewel began crying and exclaiming that we were angels and that we were the best people she had ever met. She added that people never do things like this for her, and no one had ever done anything like this for her before.
She then told us that she had been asking for a guardian angel to appear and assist her that day and that we were that guardian angel.
When she stepped outside to tell Rob, he was taken aback. Until he saw the receipt, he didn’t believe it.
We paused and talked for another 20 minutes as we walked back to the truck. Jewel and Rob explained that they needed to walk/ride to pray and cry. They needed to think about it because no one had ever done anything like this for them before.
When Jewel returned to the gas station, the clerk advised her to return to apply for a vacant cashier position the following day. Jewel is currently awaiting a response on this.
The most important thing I want people to remember from this experience is that we should aid those who need it. We should spend time getting to know those seeking our assistance and giving them a chance. We should be generous and helpful if we have the opportunity to do so.
Finally, no expectant mother in the United States should have to worry about where her next meal will come from or whether she will have a roof over her head. We can all do a little more to help those in our community who are struggling.”
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