The smell of seasoned wood and ash hung in the air. The temperature varying, determined by the proximity of the wood-burning stove. Covered in rust, broken hinges, red chimney paste plugging the holes.
A gently used sewing machine sitting on the table.
Larry McIntosh used to be homeless. He currently lives in a house with no running water, aside from a hose snaked through the basement, no kitchen sink. Thankfully Larry has electricity. He is better off than a lot of folks struggling but is by no means in a position of comfort.
"You're a survivor, man. We're gonna' bring more love in your life now."
Roger looked at Larry's fuse panel in attempt to troubleshoot an electrical problem. The basement had been gutted. A vacant space where there was once a furnace. A water heater. Vandals have stripped the house of the wiring, piping, anything with any sort of value that could be carried. HVAC ducts hung from the ceiling of the basement with no place to rest.
A string pulled taut descended from the ceiling to a backpack hanging in the middle of the room. A makeshift punching bag. A workout schedule and program posted on the wall with meticulous penmanship. A barbell on the floor with weights. A home gym made by a father for his son.
The sewing machine isn't a mere machine.
Larry has an idea. An idea for mittens. Mittens that will keep your hands warm to -20º. Mittens that will keep your hands warm on a cold day like today. Mittens "made in the USA by Americans." Roger and Larry came to an accord : every pair of mittens sold, a pair of mittens will be donated to someone in a similar position to Larry's. To a homeless person in need of them. This isn't Tom's. This isn't a company or corporation. This one man with will. One man with an idea and a deal.
One man with a sewing machine.
A sewing machine that has become a symbol of hope.
After visiting with Larry, Roger and a couple friends headed over to the New Life Rescue Mission to drop off some fresh, homemade chili. Unexpectedly, the pews were occupied by those seeking shelter. The mission was open early due to the biting cold and snow.
"Excuse me, can I have everyone's attention? I'm gonna' come around and talk to every one of you to see what each of you needs," Roger said to get their attention. Walking down the aisle, between the pews, Roger spoke with every soul in that building. Pen and pad in hand, a list was generated.
Thermals, boots, pants, hand warmers, socks, boots, hats, gloves, boots. More boots. Size 11. Size 9. Size 10. 34 wasit, 32 inseam. Medium sweatpants. Large thermals. The list went on.
A few grinned as they ate the chili. Everywhere Roger traveled, smiles were sure to follow as well. Light. Warmth. Compassion.
Before parting Roger stood in front of them one more time.
"When you're out there and someone says some shit to you, don't listen to them. You mean something. You mean something to this world. You mean something to me."
994 more days to go.