Britney Off Script: Turn around and do something - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Britney Off Script: Turn around and do something

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(Source: Britney Glaser) (Source: Britney Glaser)
(Source: Britney Glaser) (Source: Britney Glaser)
(Source: Britney Glaser) (Source: Britney Glaser)
(Source: Britney Glaser) (Source: Britney Glaser)
(Source: Britney Glaser) (Source: Britney Glaser)
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -
Below is an entry from Britney Glaser's blog, Britney Off Script. This entry was posted on May 30. If you'd like to see more posts from Britney's blog, visit http://britneyoffscript.blogspot.com/.

"Turn around and do something"

It all started with a salad -- one I never got to eat.

I worked a longer than normal day on May 29, and I was emotionally drained after wrapping up an interview with a 13-year-old girl in foster care, wishing to be adopted.  

I sank into the driver seat of my car after "clocking out" and hit the gas trying to get to some food quickly.

I eat way too much fast food. On that day, I decided to opt for a salad instead of a burger at Wendy's. The thought of having to wait the 10 extra minutes to get home to eat it wasn't exciting, but neither was the idea of complaining about wobbly bits for another day.

So there I was, trucking down Lake Street when I noticed three kids and a woman trying to cross the busy street with overflowing suitcases in tow and arms full of personal belongings. They were trying to get to a bus stop, but kept dropping what appears to be all they have.

I started to ask myself questions: Are they running away from someone? Do they have anywhere to go? Do they need help? Should I turn around?

I knew the answer to that last question and felt God stirring it up in my heart.

Still, I continued on my planned route into the long drive-thru line at Wendy's to get that salad. I could see other drivers pass this family - slowing down and craning their necks around to see what was happening as more personal belongings fell out of their bags.

"Someone else will stop," I thought.

It took about 10 minutes to get through the line and get the salad. My stomach was rumbling!

My eyes were still glued to the bus stop family and at that point. I could see the teenage boy who had been carrying the largest suitcase wiping the sweat from his face.

It was hot. I looked at my car temperature, and it read 87 degrees.

"Turn around, Britney," I told myself. My heart started racing.

I put my salad on the floorboard and pulled into a parking space directly across from the bus stop family. We were separated by five busy lanes of traffic.

I stepped out of my car and simply hollered, "Do y'all need help?" during a traffic lull. "Desperately" is the response I heard from across the street.

I got back in my car, zipped across the street to the closest parking space and before I could even get out of my car, this family of four was hauling everything toward me.  

"Lord, give me the words to speak and calm my nerves," I prayed.

I introduced myself to the family and they introduced themselves to me -- sweaty, exhausted and dropping shoes and shirts from their overflowing bags.

I got the rushed story: they were homeless but have a meeting at a Section 8 housing office about a possible place to stay. They've been in Lake Charles for a few weeks after leaving another Louisiana city to get away from a bad situation. (I'll keep that city and their names private for their security.)

I didn't get many details. The children's father is dead. They have been staying at a temporary shelter for homeless women and their children but had to leave after reaching the maximum number of days to stay. They've spent the past couple of days in a hotel and on the streets with what little money they had. They've been on a waiting list for a couple of weeks for a place to live but didn't get a call until today. They need a ride to the housing office.

We took off: mom in the front seat, a teenage son and daughter in the back with little sister wedged between them.

Our first stop was Little Caesar's to get a couple of pizzas and drinks. The kids slowly ate one piece in the car, tearing it in smaller pieces. I tell them the pizza is all theirs. "We want to save some for later," they said.

Geez.

We arrived at the housing office and after a long wait, the mother was told the only available unit is dirty. She volunteered to clean it. A few more minutes passed and a call came in to the housing manager. 

A small three bedroom unit was available.

We head over there, and mom goes inside to check it out as the kids and I wait in the car. She walked out beaming. "It's so nice. We'll take it," she said.

The kids and I can't wait to see it with our own eyes. I guess I don't really know what I was expecting to see when we walked inside.

"This is 'nice?'" I thought. There was no A/C or ceiling fan ... in any room. It was hot. And tiny. And a roach had just run out of a burner in the kitchen. And the floor looked like it was rusting. The bathtub looked ... no comment. The windows were thin and I could hear music blaring from a car outside.

But the kids all say, "This is perfect! This is such a good day!"

We unloaded the car and I noticed that the only items being unpacked from suitcases are clothes and a couple of toiletries. "Where are you going to sleep tonight?" I asked them.  

"The floor. It's okay; we're used to it," said the oldest girl.

I felt the tears rising to the surface and told them I needed to step out to make a phone call. Matt had no idea what his wife was up to that day.

I broke down as soon as I start explaining what had transpired over the past two hours. We agreed that we could find some extra bedding from our house for them, give them our air mattress and buy them a window unit air conditioner.

I felt helpless and overwhelmed. I know people have extra beds, food, clothes and more that they would be willing to donate if they saw this family's need, but how do I connect them? Matt told me to call our sweet friend, Becky, who has helped other families in need and might be able to direct me on where to find these emergency items.

The next hour was the most amazing reaffirmation of my faith.

Becky told me she had her two young kids with her, but she was ready to help. She called a man named Tom, who is the main facilitator for Boulevard Baptist Church's Mission in partnership with Trinity Baptist Church.

The Mission isn't set to reopen until August, but Tom said he and his wife, Sue, would be there in 30 minutes to open it up.

I loaded the family back into my car and we headed that way. Becky sent out a message to a few guys in our Sunday School class who have trucks. One of them, Scott, dropped what he was doing and immediately headed to the Mission.

Let me tell you: if you live in the Lake Charles area and need to clean out your closet, kitchen and old furniture - this is the place to donate it. It is a Mission and a ministry.

The mother and her children can hardly take in all the generosity. They start grabbing clothes, shampoo, soap, toilet paper ... even a TV! There's one twin mattress set there for the taking and Scott loaded it - knowing that at least one person would be off the floor that night.

At some point during this "free shopping spree," Tom got a message from another Trinity member with some emergency items to donate. Her father recently died, and she was willing to give some of his belongings to this family in desperate need.

At that point, we were all sweaty and running on adrenaline ... and God's blessings.

Scott handed me a chunk of cash to help with the A/C purchase and any other items. I start making my list with the family. "What do you need me to buy at the store?" I asked. The answer for each: underwear. That's it?

We caravan back to the apartment and after unloading everything. The mom said, "This is such a blessing. You just don't know." Her oldest daughter tells me, "This day is such a beautiful day now."

The reality was still impossible to avoid. There was nowhere to sit. No sofas, no dining room table or chairs.

We were still short three beds. The bugs were continuing to reveal themselves.

I told the family I would be back with Matt and an A/C, along with a few other items after he was done with work. I said goodbye as they start relaxing in their new living room ... on the bare floor.

Then, Tom called me. A furniture store had three twin mattresses they could donate. He also had a used sofa we could get to the family the next day from the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at McNeese State University.

Thank you, Lord, for providing!

On my way home, I called Matt. He hadn't heard from me since the emotional breakdown a couple of hours ago. He told me he's ready to not just buy emergency items for the family - but to buy the stuff that will make this apartment feel like a home for the family that started the day off homeless.

Cue the largest shopping trip of our lives!

We returned to the apartment with a packed vehicle - full of food, dishes, pots, an A/C, bedding sets and a side table. Matt met the family and got right to work to cool off the apartment that was uncomfortably hot.

The family and I started unloading everything and finding a place for it. The mother told me how the shower curtain and soft mat made her feel like she was "in a nice hotel." The kids made their beds ... even though it was just a twin mattress on the floor. The living room had one piece of furniture: a side table.

When we got in the car, I realized it was almost 8 P.M. For a morning news anchor, that's equivalent to midnight!

When we got back to our house, my mind was still racing with what we needed to help secure for this family. I knew a dining room table and chairs were a top priority, so they didn't have to eat on the floor.

"We will find it. The Lord always provides," I thought.

When I pulled out of our driveway the next morning at 3:15 to head to work, guess what I saw in the neighbor's yard next to the garbage can?

Yep, a dining room table and chairs.

Matt pulled them aside before work. He also told me he spent part of his morning scouring local job listings for a housecleaning position - something the mother was hoping to find. There was an opening where he works, and he personally brought her an application that morning. While he was there, Tom showed up with another helper to unload the sofa. Their next stop was my house for the salvaged dining room table.

I finished the morning show, totally distracted, and got a text from my Uncle Jody that he had brought our old microwave from Dry Creek to Lake Charles for the family. That saved a trip for us and was a huge help for the family!

My reason for sharing this is two-fold.

First: We see needs every single day.  

I am so guilty of walking past them or looking past them, rather than turning around and doing something. We don't all need to bring strangers into our cars, I know.

But we do have to recognize when we could be the difference-makers for someone in need.

When my Grandpa Clayton was alive, one of the Bible passages I can remember him sharing and living out was Matthew 25:35-40:

"For, I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me in. I needed clothes, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you looked after me. I was in prison, and you came to visit me.

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"

Secondly: we are each uniquely equipped to serve.

While I was behind the steering wheel that turned around to check on this family, the blessings that came about are because of other fellow believers stepping out.

Becky strategized to get the Mission opened up and resources flowing. Tom and Sue headed straight to the rescue of strangers. Scott used his truck to haul a precious bed and donated money for other needs. Matt immediately got on board with the commitment to help, installing an A/C and job hunting.
The local furniture store owner donated mattresses. Uncle Jody took the time to dig through Maw-Maw's storage shed for a microwave and went out of his way to deliver it.

Romans 12:4 says, "For, as in one body, we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function."

I'm so thankful for our different functions that can come together as one body.

I don't know what's next for this new family. I didn't know when this whole ordeal began, but I do know now that they feel loved. They have a home. They have a place to rest their heads. They know they are not invisible.
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