Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Five Steps and a Bag of Lunch

Name: Alex Hermans
From: Royersford, PA
Grade: 12th
School: Saint Joseph's Preparatory School
Votes: 0

As a student who goes to Saint Joseph’s Preparatory school, I am
taught that the most important thing to be as a person, is to be a
man, for and with others. I had found that meaning, surprisingly,
not in the service hours that were required for me to do in school,
but instead, in a homeless man that I had met at Suburban Station in
Philadelphia

His name was Eric. He was an African American man who had a long,
greyish beard and wore at least 4 layers of jackets. He took refuge
in Suburban Station as the cold month of January swept in. I would
stay in the building as well to wait for my shuttle to take me to
school sophomore year. I have been seeing him sit at more or less
the same spot every day, watching dozens, maybe even hundreds of
people pass him by without a second thought. Finally, I took the
fateful five steps to walk over and hand my bag of lunch that I take
with me to school to him. Almost immediately, the smile I would
learn to recognize crept up on his face. He said he had seen me the
days before and supposedly knew I was a good kid. He knew all about
how my school when I told him about it, and how that school was one
to raise men to help the community. He told me his life story, how
he was raised in a poor family, was forced to drop out of high
school, and was laid off from his low paying job because he had
broken his arm. Unable to afford either the costs of the hospital,
or his rent that month, he had become homeless, and has been that way
for a long time. He told me to pursue my education, and to keep what
he called my “big heart right there” as he pointed to my chest.
We had more meetings like this for a week. He would gratefully take
it and would discuss why the world needs more people who reach out.
He said that if it weren’t for the kindness of people who take
notice to the “dirty lookin’ guy in the corner” like him, then
he would have starved by now.

Then, one day, he stopped showing up. I don’t know why. I can only hope
he found some place better to keep himself warm that particularly
brutal winter, but I can never know for sure. What I had learned
however, was that the most profound ways I can help people, is
through my desire to help and using the resources I have to help
them. Then, it was five steps forward and a bag of lunch. Now, it’s
my education to become a psychologist and the desire to help the
mentally ill. Eric, wherever you are. Thank you. Hopefully, I will
show people what it means to be a man for, and with others.


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