Last year, MassMutual celebrated the inspiring people who looked out for each other, exemplifying the Live Mutual ethos and giving us hope after a year that seemed dominated by negative news. 2018 was also full of people going out of their way to help others. But before getting to know them, let's check in on some of our Unsung Heroes from last year.
A year ago, Victor Hubbard, who had been homeless and living on a street corner, was still settling into his new life with the Texas family who welcomed him into their hearts and home. Today, he’s employed, taking steps toward independence, and expanding his friendship circle one smile at a time.
“He’s a greeter now at Chic-fil-A, so he gets to ride his bike to work and talk to people all day, which is right up his alley,” said Ginger Sprouse, the chef and owner of the Art of the Meal cooking school in Clear Lake, Texas, who befriended Victor and eventually invited him to join her family. “Everybody goes in to see him now at work and people are still completely inspired by his sweetness. He’s been living with us for a year and a half and he has never once had a grumpy day. He is just always happy and content.”
Victor, 34, is the “only person I know who comes home from work with a huge smile on his face,” she said in an interview.
Recently, Sprouse said her family, which now includes Victor, also moved to a more rural location, a move they had always intended to make after her kids went off to college.
“Victor now has his own house right on our property, so we’ve graduated from being roommates to neighbors,” she said. “It’s a sweet little 300-square-foot house with a kitchen, a bathroom, and a porch. And it’s 11 steps to my front door, so we’re still here in case he needs anything, but it makes him feel awesome to have that independence.”
Every day, Sprouse said, Victor is learning valuable life skills to reinforce his independence “right here where I can help him.”
Prior to the Sprouse’s intervention, Victor had been living on a street corner for years, waving and smiling to drivers passing by. When Sprouse stopped one day to ask why he was there, Victor explained that he had a mental illness, that his mother had left him there, and that she sometimes still stopped by to visit him on the corner when she could. ( Read Victor Hubbard’s story )
“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.”
Touched, Sprouse started a Facebook page to share Victor’s story and the outpouring of support from the community was overwhelming. Firefighters started stopping by to check on Hubbard several times a day to ensure that he had everything he needed. Neighbors brought him food and clothes. They hosted fundraisers and they secured health care services including eyeglasses and mental health treatment.
On Thanksgiving in 2016, the Sprouse family stopped to deliver food to Hubbard and saw him sitting on his corner surrounded by meals from caring neighbors. They realized that it was time for the next step and began the process of making him family.
Becoming a caretaker hasn’t always been easy, Sprouse admits. But her family draws strength from their faith, community, and, as always, Victor’s warm smile.
“It is only by the grace of God that he gave us people who supported us not only financially, but emotionally,” she said. “We have so many friends we made who encouraged us with a note, a hug, or a kind word. It was the love and support of our community that made this possible.”
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