Ginger Sprouse didn’t know that her decision to stop and talk to a homeless man on the corner would change the course of a young man’s life — or create a groundswell of community support. She only knew that someone needed to help.
“I drove by him every single day for about three years,” the chef and owner of the Art of the Meal cooking school near Clear Lake, Texas, told MassMutual. “I couldn’t stand it anymore and had to stop and ask him why he was there.”
It was then the man, Victor Hubbard, told Sprouse about his challenges with mental illness, that his mother had left him, and that she sometimes stopped to visit him on the street corner when she could. He waited there every day, rain or shine, in hopes she would return. “Because he couldn’t find her, he just wanted to be there to let her know that he was OK,” said Sprouse. “I just thought that was so beautiful.”
Motivated to help get Victor off the streets, Sprouse started a Facebook fan page called “This is Victor” to share his story with the community. It worked. Neighbors showered him with food, clothes, and other necessities. Firefighters from the local township checked on Victor once or twice a day on his corner bench to be sure he had everything he needed.
“We took a special interest in Victor, just because he was one of us,” said Patrick Shipp, fire chief for the town of Webster. “We take care of our family and we treated Victor as family.”
Eventually, Sprouse helped Victor get the mental health care and prescription medication that he needed. She hired him to help out in her kitchen. And she watched him win the hearts of everyone who stopped off at his corner to bring him food and blankets.
“There were so many people in our community who cared about him, but he didn’t need another sandwich,” she said. “He needed that next step.” It was her husband who finally suggested Victor move in with them in March 2017. Today, the Sprouse’s consider him a friend and a part of their family.
“Victor has inspired the community because he’s encouraged other people to look around and notice one another and take the time for each other,” said Sprouse. “I really feel like that’s the gift he has given us.”
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