For the second week in a row the BBRC received a strong motivational message from a masterful story teller. Introduced by Colin Radford, his story followed the life of Richard, as he achieved the American Dream and then watched it shake, crumble, and then fall apart, as the internet age overcame and finally took his business under. In debt, with a failing marriage, Richard found himself at age 58 living in a van with his dog, Willow.
Colin Radford makes the introduction.
Richard referred to Willow as the wonder dog. The power of this pet prevented him from taking a leap from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on Christmas Day. The following day he paid his first visit to Sally’s, or the Salvation Army, in Bremerton. The help he received from the “angels” at Sally’s and the stories of the others who, for a variety of reasons, found themselves down on their luck provided the inspiration for him to write his book, Breakfast at Sally’s.
At this point, Richard had captured and captivated the BBRC with his story. The room was as silent as it has ever been for a presentation. The full meaning of his message came across, however, when Richard told us that if we prayed to God to make us a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, we would be sorely disappointed. But, if we asked a homeless advocate, such as BBRC member Steve Roberts, for that same sandwich, we would receive it. At this point he walked over to Steve, took his hand, and held it up, stating, “For these are the hands of God.”
Richard LeMieux, with BBRC members after the program.
People inspired by reading his book have opened homeless shelters in New York, Maine, Vero Beach, Florida, and Kent, Washington. These are known as “The Willow Mission,” in honor of Richard’s little dog. Dogs are good, for they also provide you with dignity and respect.
Richard concluded his presentation with a heartfelt chorus of “Amazing Grace,” with the lyrics taking on a whole new meaning after his truly amazing story. President John presented Richard with the BBRC “Thank You” of 1,000 pounds of fresh produce donated to local food banks by Rotary First Harvest.