Case Vignette #3: Raoul
Those we serve: Raoul (full blooded Cherokee)
His full blooded Cherokee grandfather, born in 1877, lived to the age of 104 on the Caddo Indian Reservation in Oklahoma. During summers the boys lived on the reservation. And when his grandfather summoned the boys, Raoul and his four brothers sat at the feet of the wise man. It was their culture and responsibility to learn of the history of his people. How thousands of Cherokee and other tribes perished on the Trail of Tears. His family, along with thousands of Native Americans, were forcibly removed from the Southeastern (United) states. It began in 1835 or so and continued to the War between the States. The survivors eventually merged with the Creek and Aarapaho tribes.
Raoul’s father had left the reservation, a small 2.5 square mile of fewer than 1000 people and, fewer jobs yet. Raoul grew up in Texas then lived in Ada, Oklahoma. His father was an oil worker who worked exceptionally hard and expected his sons to also.
As a small boy, Raoul learned of his people’s ways. Work hard, raise a family, never burden others and live harmoniously with your neighbor. Be respectful of the delicate communion of sustenance to earth to sky. To this end Raoul always worked hard and made good money. (Recently he was laid off)
Twenty years ago he made a huge mistake when he was young and foolish and was quick to tell of it. He had a fight with a young man that he attended high school with; a bully. For many years the bully (not Native American) taunted him with the woo-woo-woo-woo Indian war chants and other disparaging remarks. The problem was the bully grew up to be a local policeman. Sadly, he was still a bully. Seems Raoul did not consider that punching the bully in the face would land him in jail. He did his term, then married, had three children and endeavored never to humiliate himself again. But then he ran out food...it was with such shame he said to ask for help.
He wanted everyone to know he is a good man who has never asked for food before. He reached out to an agency who gave him our telephone number. So Raoul contacted Hand Up early this morning. He apologetically told of his circumstances - yet honestly I admired him: Raoul had faithfully paid his child support in full to make sure his children were cared for. In return this left him with no money to pay his electric or water bill.
The modest duplex is spotless and he is relying on a battery operated lantern for light. He cooks on a propane grill that has one burner. Along with food HUE provided some gently used tee-shirts. And then the most amazing thing happened; he starts a job on Monday. One of our downtown business owners also offered Raoul a Hand Up. All it took was a phone call… (Oh, Raoul asked I snap a pic of him showing us "the Hand Up" and proudly a pic of his dad and brothers. So I am). This is why we do what we do. And this is how it is supposed to work. PAY IT FORWARD.