Jeni Hansen Gard – Meal 3 – Melvin Curry

MelvinCurryToday was the last day of the project before the group shares our final meal together. I hate to make excuses but I had a busy week and I did not made time to share a meal with anyone I did not already know. So today in the late afternoon around 3:00 I took it upon myself to cross High St. and find someone to share a meal with. Forrest was so kind as to join me on the final adventure.
I have been thinking a lot about the homeless population that resides across High Street. I wonder how they can be so close in proximity but so far away in connection and relationship to the student body. As we walked down the street I had many concerns over how this could all go wrong (or maybe Forrest did) but I was confident that I could get to know someone and hear their story through sharing a meal. So I simply stopped and asked a gentleman sitting alone somewhere between 13th and 14th Ave off High Street. I ask him if he would be interested in having a late lunch with me at Chipotle and when he was a little hesitant I briefly explained the project. I told him I was spending the month sharing meals with people I didn’t know and that I had made a special ceramic dish set that we could eat from! He jumped up and accepted my offer and we walked one block south to Chipotle, and as it turns out even at 3:00 in the afternoon they have a line out the door. So I took our time in line as a way to start getting to know each other. The gentleman I asked to lunch is Melvin Curry. Melvin was born and raised in Cleveland but he is been living between Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus his whole life. He has one daughter and one granddaughter who both live in Cleveland and he tries to make it up every few months to visit. He worked for most of his life as a bus driver but was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Even though I would not have known from his appearance, he looks like a fit young man! But I can assure you he really does since I witnessed him taking his medication before we ate. He told me he was the first in his family of any generation to have diabetes. So we talked a little about the food system and what things may have caused his disease. He shared with me that when he got diagnosed he could no longer keep his job and when they let him go he no longer had any income. That is when he came down to Columbus to try and get assistance. He has his name on a list for Section 8 Housing a government subsidized housing project but for now he is living in the shelter. He has to be there by 8:00 PM and everyone who stays over night takes on some responsibility and they have to leave by 7:00 AM so he spends his days on the street. Melvin’s story really touched me. He doesn’t want to be on the street or in the shelter he just wanted to be back on his feet with a job but this disease has caused havoc on his body and his life. When we finally made it to the front of the line I told him to get anything he wanted. I chose a table and unpacked the dishes. It appeared he was equally as pleased as I was to share this experience together. He placed half of his meal on his plate and saved the rest for dinner. I filled up the cups with water and as we drank he reached into his bag and got out a new bottle of water that he had been saving and he shared it with me topping off my cup with his water. Giving leads to giving.
I hope Melvin’s story will give you a new perspective as it did me.

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