Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Volunteer (11/23/06)
TITLE: After the Smoke Cleared
By Hope Horner
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“I want to volunteer.”
He wanted to volunteer?
“I want to teach boxin’ to them little knuckleheads that show up here.”
I stammered for a second.
I felt as though I needed a cigarette to fight off my nerves.
“Well,” I finally choked out, “there is some paperwork you will have to fill out and we’ll have to run your fingerprints.” Maybe this would scare him away. Don’t most boxers have criminal records?
He seemed undaunted. He smiled.
Oh please, don’t smile I thought. I can’t bear to look at your teeth. I could almost here each one screaming in unison from behind his lips, “Get me out of here!” I turned quickly toward the filing cabinet behind me and pulled out the volunteer forms. I handed them to him reluctantly.
He shook my hand vigorously, said he’d be back and then strolled out the front door of the Community Center. I smelled my hand. Yuck.
About a week later, as promised, he strolled back in - different clothes, but same smoky smell and ashtray smile. He had his forms all filled out and proof that despite his dirty hands, his fingerprints were clean. He wanted to know if there was anything else he needed to do.
Yeah, I thought.
Iron your clothes.
Take a shower.
Ease up on the hair grease.
Clean out your car.
Talk more quietly.
Go sell insurance.
Thankfully, the “smoke” of my own arrogance was cleared by a nudge from the Holy Spirit. Does God only use perfect people to reach out in love? Can only the beautiful ones serve Him? Who was I to stand in the way of this man’s mission? God asks only that we be willing. This man is willing.
It is now five years later, and Rocky is one of the best boxing coaches that has ever volunteered at the Community Center. He helped four youth become Golden Gloves boxing champions. He has never missed a training session or a tournament. He has bought uniforms with his own money for kids who couldn't afford one. He ensures every one of his students get a Christmas present. He checks report cards. He ties boxing boots. He wraps hands. He loves each child unconditionally. Yes, he still chain smokes Marlboro 100’s. His Nova is still a four-wheeled trash mobile. His clothes are still clown-sized and his hair still a grease pit. He hasn’t changed one bit. But as it turns out, I was the one who needed to change anyway.
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