Homelessness and mental illness are epidemics throughout our country, and no one seems to know the solution. But last December, a woman named Ginger tried something not many have the courage to do: She opened her heart to a homeless man named Victor Hubbard, and forever changed both his life and hers.
Maybe that’s one solution more of us could try.
Ginger Sprouse, a married mother and chef at Art of the Meal in Kemah, Texas, had seen Victor Hubbard around town many times. In fact, most of the residents of Kemah had, as he’d stood on the same street corner for three years waiting for his mother to return for him. Victor was homeless, mentally ill, and without any other option. But one day Ginger did something no one else had ever done for Victor: She talked to him.
Once Ginger learned Victor’s story, she began to formulate a plan of action. She spread the word around her town that Victor needed help, and help came. She launched a Facebook page, called This is Victor (which now has over 35,000 followers), and a GoFundMe page (which has raised over $25,000 in donations to date), which have both helped organize new resources for Victor. Appointments were made with mental health professionals, eye doctors, and physicians. Victor was given clean clothes and proper meals. He had his hair cut and is receiving prescription medication. But most important of all, he is being treated like a human who deserves a chance.
One particularly poignant post written by Ginger on the This is Victor Facebook page shows how exactly all of this has transformed him:
“Tonight Victor laughed. I mean really laughed. The kind where you fall back on the couch kind of laugh. Where you have tears streaming down your face and you can’t catch your breath. It wasn’t really even that funny. But as he laughed I could almost see the tension leave his body, the years of stress and worry and the anxiety that was clinging to him slowly melting away. I wondered when was the last time he laughed that way? And how sad and lost he was on the corner. And how all of our hearts hurt to see him that way. And how thankful we can be that now he’s not just smiling, but laughing. A deep belly laugh, the kind that comes from a joyful heart. And now we can smile too.”
Now, a few months after meeting Ginger, 32-year-old Victor has a job in Ginger’s kitchen at Art of the Meal. He has reunited with family members, including his mother. He’s on his way to living the life he dreamed of. He grins from ear to ear in every picture taken, and he says he just wants to keep getting better, and with the help he’s receiving, he will likely do just that — all because of the kindness one stranger showed him.
“She came around and she kind of saved me,” Victor told KHOU. “She helped me. It’s like grace.”
Ginger, however, says she’s the fortunate one. “This guy just inspires me. If he can be kind, gracious and joyful so can I! This is community. Be inspired today.”