James Eppler, 28 years old, had been living on the streets of Portland, on and off, since he was 16 when a family situation caused him to leave home. James and a friend had taken refuge on the porch of a vacant house, attempting to flee the cold and heavy rain. When James chose this location, he was simply seeking shelter.
Chris Crever bought the house that James had been using for shelter, two months after James started living there. Chris purchased this house on the corner of Madison and 19th Avenue as a business investment, and immediately began tidying up the property. When Chris threw away the wet blankets and bedding he found scattered about, James returned later to find that his "home" was gone. James shared his response with KOIN 6 News:
"We looked in the trash, and ya know...the stuff's gone. What do we do?"
One Friday afternoon as James sat on the porch steps of the house trying to figure out with his friend where to go next, Chris arrived. He nicely explained that the two men would have to leave. To Chris' surprise, James responded very politely and thanked him.
James shared his feelings about being asked to go:
"The fact that he said it so respectfully and kindly, like sure. Thank you for not having a problem with us being here so far, and for treating us like a human being."
Chris turned to walk towards his car, but instantly had a change of heart.
Chris was astonished at James' expression of gratitude, especially since he was asking James to leave what had become his temporary home. Chris decided to help and returned to the porch where the two men were preparing to leave.
Chris told James to meet him back at that very spot, at 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning, and he would put him to work. James was there awaiting his new employer at 7:45 a.m. Chris quickly put James to work, fixing up the very house he had been using for shelter. James, and the house, would be brought back to life.
After leaving the shelter the porch had provided, James began sleeping under a local bridge at night. Despite the cold, wet clothes he wore, he showed up ready to work each morning. Chris decided to offer him a room in the house for the time being, as well as a place nearby to shower and freshen up. James shared:
"Like we always hope for something, ya know, a little help. Not necessarily money, but a place to go take a shower everyday, be able to at least look forward to have a reason to wake up."
Chris' generosity and kindness were giving James the "reason to wake up" that he had been hoping for.
Chris helped in the search for a permanent job and more sufficient housing. James now has a full-time job, and couldn't be more grateful for the support he's received. Chris hopes that this story will encourage others to reach out to those in need.
Jesse Jackson once said, "Never look down on anybody unless you are helping them up." Let us all learn to reach out to those in need more often, making our world a kinder, gentler place. Share this story, and encourage more random acts of kindness!