Most of us have lost things along the way in our lives. Perhaps it’s that missing sock you knew went into the dryer but never made it out. Maybe it’s that friend you lost touch with because of time or distance. Maybe there are more difficult loses like that of a relationship you had your heart set on or god forbid the lose of a loved one. Unfortunately we all know the pain and emptiness a loss creates so it’s hard to imagine losing it all. For Kevin that was a reality. Last year Kevin was jobless, homeless and without the support of his family. Humble in his response to his past he merely says, “some things happened and I fell down” as the reason for ending up on skid row. But because of the help of a stranger one day and a lot of hard work Kevin’s life changed direction and a whole new story is being written.

“I was tired of living that way,” Kevin expresses. “I needed help. I wanted help.” One day Kevin approached a woman at a crosswalk. “And this is how God works,” he tells me. This woman had worked directly with the Midnight Mission, a rehabilitation center located on skid row in downtown LA. She took the time to guide him there. Having a seat in the lobby, Kevin wholeheartedly surrendered to the idea and practice of his recovery.

Rik Krulish, the director of the Mission explains, “When people come into the Mission you can see the emptiness and pain. Kevin was different. He had a unique confidence about him. We don’t take people in who aren’t serious about getting better and it was obvious he wanted to be at the Mission. You could tell that whatever it was that got him off track hadn’t taken away his sense of self.” Kevin quickly excelled through the program, a 12-month rehabilitation system combining educational study, work requirements, physical betterment and social interaction. Struggling from past addictions that had once helped him cope, Kevin worked daily on his dedication to getting well by going to meetings and having an active faith in God. “Staying connected to a power greater than myself as I move forward is essential. This is a lifetime program for me, a lifetime demonstration.”

Kevin’s love of shining shoes brought him steady work at the mission and stood as an example to others of leadership and initiative. Other men in the program looked up to Kevin, who became known as Mr. Happy Feet. “They call me Mr. Happy Feet because I care about people. Not every day is going be a good day but if I have a smile on my face, somebody else can smile too. It shows that I don’t just care about myself but I care about other people,” says Kevin.

It’s this attitude and the constant drive to be of service that have helped Kevin graduate the program and secure a steady job outside of the Mission. Rik remembers introducing Matt and Kevin and discussing his possible employment at Matt’s barbershop. “It went from a chance meeting to what I felt was serendipitous, to just God making the arrangements. Kevin is the kind of guy who has stayed very true to himself, to his program and to the commitment that he made when he came into the Mission. He has God in his life and those kinds of things that we might regard as miracles are things that he is just now worthy of because he’s done the work. He has earned the right.”

“We all have a story,” says Kevin, “but it’s not what we’ve been through that matters, it’s how we come out of it. Whatever you water will grow. You have to stay rooted in who you are and believe in yourself. Don’t ever give up. You may fall down, but you gotta get up.” Kevin graduated in November 2009 and secured employment with Bolt Barbers in downtown LA. He also has a cozy home neighboring the Mission where the glowing sign serves as a constant reminder of how far he’s come.

A few more …

About the currency project

The Currency Project challenges us all to see the beauty through the pain, the positive that can come from a negative and the heartbreak that can turn into a new beginning. Life is uncertain but our faith, hope and love can never be taken from us. Our true currency in life is what we make it.