Getting Caught

Wed. January 29, 2014 12:00 AM
by Bill Pritchard

A Rose by any other name is still a Rose

Meet Rose. I'm pretty sure she doesn't know my name, but I sure know hers. Rose is a homeless lady, who lives and moves in Chicago's Lakeview community. I met Rose on Thanksgiving Day in 2012 when I spotted here at my bus stop. Like most people with the homeless, I was fast in thought about her lot in life. A lady clearly over the age of seventy, Rose was bundled up for warmth, and toting around a shopping cart, filled with her entire life's possessions. She reminded me of a lady in Seattle's Pike Place Market; us kids used to call our 'Basil Lady', who sold my parents fresh produce. Like the Basil Lady, Rose has a weathered face, full of character and she was all too eager to chit-chat.

There I sat, listening to Rose. She impressed me so much; I was actually debating on inviting her to my home for Thanksgiving Dinner. Clearly she was one savvy lady. Realizing that I needed to make an appointment, I stood up and prepared to get on the next arriving bus. I shoved my hand into my pocket and took out all the money I could find. I then told her about a local theater serving free Thanksgiving dinner that evening and gave her my money.

Saying goodbye, I thought I'd never see her again. Honestly, my heart was full of emotion. I know there are countless people who are homeless in our communities, but how on earth could a sweet lady like Rose be in such a situation? I was truly sad!


Have you ever caught someone in a compromising situation? Ever seen a friend do something you knew they'd regret? Have you ever been caught in the act of something wrong? It's one of those feelings that just can't be duplicated. In some ways it's thrilling; in others it's the agony of defeat.

What about being caught doing something good ? How often does that happen? There's hardly ever someone in the right place, at the right time. Rarely does the boss see the extra effort; unless we bring it to their attention. Getting caught in the act of kindness, self-control, or gentleness is hardly ever tweeted about, or credited. We are quick to pounce on someone when caught in the wrong. Why is it we don't look for the right?

Meeting Rose that day in 2012, wasn't staged or even directed to impress others. It was a very personal moment. True, it's moments like these that anybody would like to be known for, but I think we should strive to live these moments in our lives. And, praise others in doing the same.

She/He did it!

Nine days after meeting Rose, I was happy to run into her again; this time as I was getting off the bus in another part of Chicago. I was so thrilled to see her. To be honest, I wondered how she would survive the frigid temperatures of winter. But, there she was, bundled from head to toe in three of everything. I sat down and reintroduced myself to her. That Rose is tough as nails! I gave her some money and a few McDonald's gift cards I had in my bag; not knowing that a friend happened to drive by at just that moment, and snapped a photo.

Trey Gonzales and I have been friends a long time. We serve together on the Board of Interfaith House , a home in Chicago, providing a holistic healing environment and resources to help ill and injured homeless adults restore their health, rebuild their lives and regain self-sufficiency. Since opening its doors, twenty years ago, Interfaith House has served over 6,600 homeless men and women at their 64-bed facility in Chicago's Garfield Park neighborhood. They play a unique role in helping homeless adults with medical recovery needs that cannot be appropriately addressed in a shelter environment. Most of their residents come directly from a hospital or clinic. They were the first, and remain the only such organization in the state of Illinois. It was Trey who caught me with Rose.

All too often we look for those doing wrong or for opportunities to catch someone in a bad act. How much better would this world be, if we found the positive in others and their actions?! There are two hero's in this column; Rose for her efforts at a good life and Trey for his life at witnessing good efforts.

Could you be "caught" living in the right? Do you live a life that you can take pride in? It's not about being/doing, to get the praise; it is a mission in life. There are countless groups and organizations in this world that could use your time and treasure. Equally, there are individuals we see every day on the bus, at the coffee shop, or school. Surly they could use your help and support?

I knew I'd never forget Rose, but having our moment caught, was a special gift for me!