by Bob Geary
Ricky Caldwell, a homeless man whose address these days is the South Wilmington Street Center in Raleigh -- the Wake County men's shelter -- spoke to the congregation Sunday at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. His subject was the church's Job Readiness program, in which he's enrolled. He was introduced by his mentor, church member Laura Langham, who says her experience with Caldwell has been a gift.
Video of Langham's introduction and Caldwell's talk is posted on a blog written by and for homeless folks called News ... From Our Shoes -- with some comments by editor Michael Watkins. (Watkins, too, lives at the SWSC.) The whole thing takes less than five minutes to watch.
Watkins writes that the congregation was "wide-eyed at the shock" that a homeless man could be so articulate and impressive. A little hyperbole, perhaps. But by the time I got up to Ricky to congratulate him after the service, a long line of impressed Baptists had preceded me. I was impressed too. Not shocked, though, because I'd met Ricky before -- through Michael -- a few weeks ago.
From Watkins' blog:
Caldwell stated, "My new life in Raleigh began to take a downward spiral. I got involved in drugs and heavy drinking. With this involvement came personal and financial problems. "I lost jobs, homes and eventually...I lost...myself."
With Pullen's help, Caldwell's in the process of finding himself.
Anyone interested in Pullen's program and mentoring people in it can contact Porter Bell at the church.