help me help mckinley

Image via Flickr user Rennet Stowe under a Creative Commons license.

I wrote the other day about the warming shelter Canvas Church was operating this week to keep our city’s homeless out of some of the worst wintry weather we’ve had in a while. With warmer weather (by which I mean, not death-cold) on the way, the warming shelter shut down today, and I headed over this afternoon to help with cleanup. When I got there, I realized there were more than enough hands to help, and was headed toward the door when a man stopped me and asked me if I could help him find the phone number of the Revenue Office. What are smartphones for, right? I pulled out my BlackBerry, Googled a number, and handed him the phone.

The quick story I got was that his truck drivers’ license had expired, and though he was getting job offers, he couldn’t take them without a valid license. What was standing in the way of him and that license was $42, a fee a local ministry had agreed to help him pay. I agreed to give him a ride to get the check and then take him to the Revenue Office to renew his license.

Along the way, I got to know him a bit. His name is McKinley, and when he first describes himself and what he does, he says he’s a poet. He recited some of his poetry for me, including a really good one about “what if Jesus came to your house.” Of course, the whole time I’m thinking “what if Jesus asked you for a phone call and a ride?” He used to own his own business, but somehow, after the death of his wife, he lost it. He still carries his Wells Fargo business credit card in his wallet. He was a truck driver, but his license was suspended in the state of Washington when he committed what he says is a “logbook violation,” which he explained to me was working more hours than he was supposed to in a given period, and for which he didn’t even get any points on his license. When we got to the Revenue Office with his $42 check, we realized that he actually needs around $650 to pay off fines in order to get the suspension removed, so he can then pay $42 and renew his CDL.

McKinley had a temporary job doing seasonal work for Honeybaked Hams, but that job is over now. He can’t get another job very easily, because most employers want to see a valid ID, and his CDL is expired. He could give up his CDL and get a regular drivers license so he could get a job, but if he does that, his CDL is gone, and in order to get it back, he’d have to go through training again, which he says costs around $4,000.

So, basically, what is standing between McKinley and a job is around $700. And I want to help him raise it. All I can think of is a quote I read from Mother Teresa yesterday: “Help one person at a time. Start with the person closest to you.” I feel like God placed McKinley in front of me today, and I want to help him.

If I can help him get a job, I have connections who can help me get him a place to stay. So what I’m asking is if anyone is willing to help me help McKinley get his CDL so he can get a job and hopefully get off the street. I can pay his fine directly to the state of Washington over the phone or via fax, so you don’t have to worry about me just handing over your cash to a stranger. Can you give a little bit, even a tiny bit, to help me help this truck-driving poet?

UPDATE: I’m working on getting it set up so that donations go through my church, Eikon, so that people who make donations can get a tax write-off for a charitable donation.

UPDATE 2: Looks like, about an hour after posting this, friends have already committed enough money to get McKinley his CDL. Thanks so much!!

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