Tony Tolbert. An entertainment lawyer in LA whose selfless 'miracle act sparked a chain reaction of good will.
He lent his fully fully furnished home to a poor family for one year. Now, 12 months later, Tolbert’s gesture has sparked a chain reaction of goodwill.
Felicia Dukes, a mother of four who had been sharing a single room at the shelter with three of her young children; her older son was over 18 and not eligible to stay with his mom and siblings.
So Tolbert offered up the opportunity of a lifetime: one year rent-free at his home so that Dukes could get her life back on track.
Dukes said that the experience of living in Tolbert’s home gave her both “freedom” and “stability,” calling it a “miracle.” She recorded her blessings in a “gratitude journal.” She has also able to save money so that she will no longer need to live paycheck to paycheck.
Early one morning in Dacula, Ga., Matt Swatzell was driving home from a 24-hour shift as a firefighter and EMS and had only 30 minutes of sleep. He was less than four miles from his home on October 2, 2006 when he suddenly heard what he calls “the most God awful sound I’ve ever heard.”
Swatzell, then 20, realized he had fallen asleep at the wheel and crashed. When he got out of the car, he saw the car of 30-year old June Fitzgerald. She was pregnant and with her then 19-month-old daughter Faith. Faith survived the crash but her mother and unborn sibling passed away.
Fitzgerald's forgiveness has created a friendship now six years strong. The men stayed connected by meeting at least once every two weeks, attending church together and eating meals at the Waffle House and other restaurants, just the two of them.
To start, Fitzgerald extended his forgiveness to Swatzell's sentencing: As a county officer, he was facing a felony and harsh time. But Fitzgerald pleaded for a lesser sentence. “I didn’t see why this accident and tragedy needed to ruin any more lives,” said Fitzgerald. Swatzell paid a fine and did community service.
The day before the two-year anniversary of the accident, Swatzell was in the parking lot of a grocery store after buying a greeting card to send to Fitzgerald. Just about to turn on his engine, he saw Fitzgerald walking into the same grocery store.
After an introduction, Fitzgerald told Swatzell, “I have a desire to want to be in your life.” Part of the tug I felt and draw to Matthew was he was a good guy. He wasn’t a convict or on drugs. He was just a guy who got off a shift,” said Fitzgerald. “I felt it was my responsibility to encourage him and see the big picture.”
“I can honestly say that without this friendship I don’t know where I’d be,” said Swatzell, now 27.
Fitzgerald has watched Swatzell become a family man and helped him raise himself from the abyss of guilt….. Fitzgerald believes he has gotten just as much out the friendship as Swatzell has. “This has been just as healing for me too,” said Fitzgerald. “I’ve taught on forgiveness and I know that forgiveness is not so much for the other person but for yourself.”
And everyone in the DC neighborhood that rallied to save Frager's Hardware and Eastern Market, all without government help. It Takes a Certain Kind of Village D.C. neighbors show what real community looks like.Posted by Jill Fallon at February 20, 2014 6:30 PM | Permalink