In my many years of volunteering as the Director of Blessingdale’s, the Rescue Mission’s clothing distribution center, I have had the opportunity and the privilege to work with and mentor so many of the volunteers entrusted to me. They come from so many different backgrounds that have all lead to the crossing of our paths, and I’m thankful for each one. They are young and old. They are housewives and recovering addicts. They are voluntary helpers and court-mandated community service volunteers. They are a blessing.
As we work together through the monotonous job of sorting, tagging and hanging donated clothing we pass the time through conversation and inevitably disclose pieces of ourselves little by little. Recently, I have had the pleasure of working with a young, 18-year-old man named Jacob, who came to us due to a series of misunderstandings. After last Thursday, I am convinced that this string of seemingly unfair events has just one explanation…it was orchestrated by God.
Last Thursday afternoon things were a bit slow at Blessingdale’s so Jacob was down in the main building of the Mission where his services were needed. At the same time, Executive Director, Perry Jones happened to look out his window just in time to see a man across the street slump down to the sidewalk and begin convulsing. We would learn later that he was in the throes of a heroin overdose. Perry ran to the man’s aid and turned him on his back as he began to turn terrifying shades of blue. Jacob saw the commotion and immediately rushed to Perry’s side as he was about to begin CPR. Having recently completed a first aid course, Jacob began chest compressions on the man while another responder called 911.
Unfortunately, the Albany Fire Department (which is only down the street from the Mission) was on another call over on the Dunn Memorial Bridge lying in wait as police negotiators tried to coax a suicidal man from the railing of the bridge. So, Jacob and Perry continued performing chest compressions on the distressed man, bringing his color back to normal and keeping him alive until paramedics arrived on the scene 10 minutes later. They stabilized him and transported him to the hospital for further treatment.
The following Monday, Jacob came back to Blessingdale’s and I put him to work. As we worked, we talked. I commented on how it must have been such a harrowing experience and I asked him if it affected him at all. He replied, “Actually, it has changed my life. I was thinking maybe I wanted to go into law enforcement. But now I know for sure that I want to be an EMT!”
It is awesome to think about how God has a carefully orchestrated plan for each one of our lives. It is even more awesome when you see it unfolding right before your eyes. God sent Jacob to the Mission, through a series of somewhat inexplicable events, to literally save a man’s life and, in turn, has found a new direction for his own. Please pray for Jacob as he follows his career desires and that he will surrender his future to God. Thank you!
Director of Clothing Distribution