Robert’s Angels

posted Nov 7, 2013, 2:09 PM by andy@lauderdalebeach.org

This is from a blog by our neighbor, Robin Baker. It first appeared on MentalBlox.

Today was the first time I ever had a real conversation with a homeless person.   His name is Robert and although he “camps” in the back alleys of Fort Lauderdale, he comes by way of Knoxville, Tenn.

Today was not the first time I met Robert, you see, I live in one of the Fort Lauderdale neighborhoods where Robert “camps.”   The first time I saw him, I was really uncomfortable.  He was so drunk that he fell off his bicycle and landed like a pile of wet laundry.  He was skin and bones and had no idea where he was, what he was doing or even if he had just injured himself.  It was obvious that he was struggling in so many ways.   You could see it.  The physical and mental pain he was in was as plain as day, but there was something else.  Something deeper that you don’t often see in people that have hit rock bottom.  There was a spark in his eyes that still radiated even though the rest of him was shutting down.

It wasn’t long thereafter that I started seeing Robert a little more upright on his bike.  Then, I saw him having long conversations with other homeless people and even trying to socialize with my neighbors.   I was curious but cautious.   I’ve had a lot of history with alcoholics in my life, so even though people I knew were reaching out to him, I was hesitant.   Probably scared.

The bike incident and the beginning of Robert’s awakening started happening about 6 months ago.   Today, Robert is clean.   He has had at least three angels help him to get clean and stay clean.   These aren’t just any angels.   Two are my neighbors including a lawyer named Colleen and a Financial Planner named Tracey.   The other woman just stopped him while he was panhandling one day and handed him a burrito and her business card (we’ll call her Barbara for lack of knowing her name).

When Robert met Barbara, she basically told him to stop drinking and get clean.  That was it!  The funny thing was that he already had made that choice just prior to meeting her, but her words, her burrito, her business card gave him the impetus to make it happen although he hardly ever saw her again.    When Robert told me about Barbara, I was really touched.  Here’s a lawyer that saw that same spark that Colleen and Tracey saw, and that eventually I saw too.   All she had to do to get him to make a commitment was tell him to stop doing what he was doing, and he did.   How many times have you wanted to stop but didn’t? Barbara’s effort was small but her impact was huge.    That not only catapulted Robert but when he was clean and that spark ignited even more, up stepped Colleen and Tracey.   None of them had to give up their lives or their money.  All they had to do was care enough to connect and by doing so, they helped to save a life.

In addition to his Angels, he is also strengthened by his religion.  He’s a Christian and he told me,  “I Speak to God day and night to keep clean when there’s a lot of dirty all around me.”

Although still homeless and still camping in the alleys of Fort Lauderdale, Robert Mason is now trying to build a business.  To give back to the angels that have helped him and to the city that gave him a new lease on life, Robert creates “Fort Lauderdale-inspired” dog collars by hand stitching seashells onto them for dogs of all breeds and sizes.  He creates these dog collars with the help of donations to buy the materials and he sells them from his bicycle (you know the one).  Someday he hopes to make enough money to put a roof over his head and help other homeless people get clean and find their purpose again too.

If you would like to buy a dog collar from Robert or reach out to him as he continues his inspiring journey, you can call him at 954-470-4214.   Of course, his cell phone was possible because of an angel.

Photo by gobucks2

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