A Man in Need
This story was submitted to the Block by Block (BBB) corporate team from Operations Manager Kyle Robinson of Akron, Ohio. It represents a common encounter BBB Ambassadors can experience in the field and an effective, impactful way to respond to help the community—or even just a single person.
A Letter from Operations Manager Kyle Robinson
I just wanted to share some information I received from one of my Clean Ambassadors, Val Kramer, recently. This truly made me so proud of her and our Ambassador team! Val was not present at one of our team meetings, and I could not reach her by phone that day. The next day, she came to me to explain her absence and shared an inspiring full-circle story.
On Tuesday, March 21st, 2023, Val was returning to the Greystone building (our HQ) for a bi-weekly team meeting. As she was walking down Main St., she noticed a man sitting alone on the swings with a box of random things. She said that she greeted him with a “hello, how are you.” After he said hello, she said she felt the need to stop. So, she stopped. At first, she said he was a little distant, but she kept speaking with him and they began to break the ice. They went back and forth with small talk, and, eventually, the man—we’ll call him John—began to tell her his story.
As they spoke, John told her that he had lost his purpose in the world and that he didn’t want to live anymore. He told her that he had lost all hope and he was just done. Val quickly reassured him that he has so much to live for and asked why he felt this way. As John continued to open up, Val continued to actively listen and engage.
He gave Val a brief life history/story and once he started to talk to her, she said it was a very natural conversation. He began telling her about his past work as a welder and that he loved building tricycles and hoped to build one that could assist the elderly and disabled. John told her about a terrible motorcycle accident he was in; about how his identity was recently stolen and his accounts drained; and that he once died in a surgery and was brought back to life. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.
He opened up to Val about his faith, discussing spirituality and his feelings on how he lost his purpose, more so, his desire to live. Val recommended some books she read that he may find helpful and told him about a faith-based book she actually found downtown while working as an Ambassador. She also gave him information on Victims Assistance, CSS, and some other services offered in our area.
As she continued to talk to him, he mentioned that they had met before. Eventually, he told her that they spoke way back in 2014 and she stopped and showed him the same kindness then and he always remembered that. As the conversation ended, Val ensured he had information to local services and had a place to stay. John took the information, said he had an apartment in the area, and said he was feeling a little better. She said he never asked for anything; he just needed someone to talk to.
I just want to thank Val for such an incredible engagement and for taking the time to ensure John was heard and not only offered resources, but also offered kindness and compassion. The fact that he remembered Val for that same kindness, almost 10 years later, is a beautiful thing. I can only imagine how many people remember Val for her acts of kindness over the last 21 years that she has worked for Block by Block. This really does shine a light on how impactful the Ambassadors are in our communities every day.
Kyle Robison, Operations Manager
Downtown Akron, Ohio Partnership