Message From Our New Board Chair, Ted Boyd

Ted Boyd

Ted Boyd

Ted Boyd of Center City Partners and  the new Board Chair of the Common Grounds Farm Stand shared the following inspirational story with us at a recent meeting:
The issue of homelessness is of tremendous importance to me. It was not a cause that I sought out, rather one that sought me. I lived in Chattanooga, TN for about 3 years while working at a small college. I loved hanging out in downtown Chattanooga but found I was a target of the homeless, often getting asked for money, gas, help, etc. I assumed my friends were also getting asked similar questions from homeless folks but when I asked them they gave me a blank stare. Apparently, I was wearing some kind of sticker that read, “Hi, my name is Ted and if you are homeless I will help you, please ask.” I decided to take advantage of this opportunity and spend time with the homeless of Chattanooga. If you wanted money for a meal, I was glad to give it to you but in exchange you had to have that meal with me. Ron, Johnny Valentine, Al Israel are just some of the names of the homeless gentlemen I met but one in particular, Eddie, stands out as I met him outside of a burger place called CheeBurger CheeBurger. He asked if I could help him with money for food so the two of us ordered and sat on the bench outside the restaurant enjoying conversation over our burgers. In most conversations I have with folks, they tend to stay rather superficial, but for whatever reason, it was not the same when I had my homeless conversations. I would ask questions like, “When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?” “How do you spend your day?” “What’s the most interesting place you have travelled?” On this particular occasion I asked Eddie, “What is it like to be homeless?” I asked that question 11 years ago but I remember Eddie’s response like it was yesterday. He said, “Ted, think about the home you grew up in and think of all the wonderful memories associated with home….Thanksgiving meals, Christmas, birthdays, love, doors always open…. Homelessness is being able to see that home with all of its wonderful memories only to find out that when you walk up to that home the door isn’t open for you…actually there isn’t even a door knob or anyway to open that door anymore…and everyday all you want is to get back inside that home.” That conversation on a Chattanooga sidewalk bench outside a Cheeburger Cheeburger has left a profound mark on me and it’s part of the reason why being a part of the incredible work of Common Grounds is so important, necessary and exciting. Fruits, vegetables, olive spread, chocolate sauce, lasagna, homemade bread, etc. in and of themselves are good and delicious but when they become part of the Common Grounds Farm Stand they become life changing. The Farm Stand would not happen without you and I hope you will think of Eddie as you bake, cook, arrange flowers, set up, and sell this season knowing that we are all playing a part in changing lives!

One thought on “Message From Our New Board Chair, Ted Boyd

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