Sometimes all it takes is for one person to stop, look, and listen — to a stranger who has become invisible in one’s own community.
That’s what Ginger Sprouse of Clear Lake, Texas, did. After driving past a homeless man for several years on the same street corner in her town, she finally stopped one day to ask him about his own story. How had this man’s life come to this?
It turns out Hubbard had stood on that corner, regardless of the weather, waiting for his mother to come back and get him. She had left him, he said, as he battled mental illness — and he didn’t have anywhere else to go.
What the married mother, chef and restaurateur did next was incredibly simple yet life-changing — and not just for Hubbard. She shared his story on Facebook on a page she created called, “This is Victor.” Her goal was to get him some help.
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Sprouse also created a GoFundMe page, hoping to help him get back on his feet. She explained where Hubbard could usually be found, adding, “If you want to meet someone who is eternally optimistic, positive and humble, go visit him. He will out-bless you every time.”
Within two months, Hubbard received just under $28,000 — which was more than Sprouse ever thought possible. He is now also receiving help for mental health issues, has been to the dentist for the first time in years, and has a new pair of glasses. Sprouse gave Hubbard a job at her restaurant, and his story has not only brought together their community — hundreds turned out to a block party held the last weekend in February to support him — but has reached the hearts of many across the globe. The impact of that first simple conversation spread via social media.
“I would drive up and he would say, ‘How are you doing today?’” Sprouse told Houston CBS affiliate KHOU TV. “’Are you doing OK? Don’t ever let anybody do you wrong.’ Seriously, he always asked about me.”
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Sprouse sees the difference the attention of caring people has made in his life, and posted this just a couple of weeks ago on the “This is Victor” Facebook page: “Tonight Victor laughed. I mean really laughed. The kind where you fall back on the couch kind of laugh. Where you have tears streaming down your face and you can’t catch your breath. It wasn’t really even that funny. But as he laughed I could almost see the tension leave his body, the years of stress and worry and the anxiety that was clinging to him slowly melting away.”
She continued: “I wondered when was the last time he laughed that way? And how sad and lost he was on the corner. And how all of our hearts hurt to see him that way. And how thankful we can be that now he’s not just smiling, but laughing. A deep belly laugh, the kind that comes from a joyful heart. And now we can smile, too.”
Hubbard views Sprouse as a sort of angel on earth. “She came around and she kind of saved me,” Hubbard told KHOU. “She helped me. It’s like grace.”
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Hubbard has now also been put back in touch with family thanks to the Facebook page. An uncle called him, and then drove from east Texas to see him. And just days ago, Victor was reunited with his mom.
The blessings keep coming.