Tag Archives: pay it forward

LSS: Pay it forward

We call it our sacred lunch.

Every Wednesday, my friend, Celeste White, and I meet for lunch. We rehash the week. We catch up. We vent. We look for new solutions. We celebrate successes. We laugh. We’ve only been having our sacred lunch for three months, but we both recognize as a great idea.

This week, Celeste and I sat at a table, eating our French Onion soup and steamed asparagus, discussing surprise gifts that have come our way — surprise gifts from even more surprising sources.

She told me about years ago when she was a young, single mother, barely making ends meet. When December rolled around, her circumstances worsened — not enough money for food, gas or gifts for her child. Not only was she working fulltime, but she was also in college. Plus, bartending late at night on top of school and work. She was trying to better her situation.

That December, at the end of a workday in a small office in downtown Lafayette, one of her co-workers asked if she would walk with her to her car.

Celeste did. When they got there, her friend, Bobbi Ormston, opened the trunk of her car. It was full of groceries — groceries for Celeste and her young one.

“I was just overwhelmed,” Celeste said. “I needed it so badly and my problem was suddenly solved with no effort on my part. I just couldn’t process that a person had gone to the store and with her own money bought all this stuff to feed us — to care for us because we couldn’t do it ourselves. It was a wonderful, strange feeling.”

She told me Bobbi Ormston was working for the school district now. I was able to track her down and ask if she remembered her gift of groceries to Celeste and if it was something she did on a regular basis.

“I was a late bloomer,” Bobbi said, as the start of the explanation of her near-angel status.

At the encouragement of her husband, she went back to school at the age of 35. At the end of her second year in college, her husband died. She was left with to raise their 14-year-old daughter.

“I had to work to support us, go to school full time and try to be a parent to our daughter. It was not easy,” Bobbi said. “Money was tight and sometimes not there at all after paying rent and electricity.”

She remembered one point during Christmas, when her electricity was turned off for two weeks.

“Not long after this, my daughter moved in with my mother and my younger brother took me in,” she said. “With their help, I was able to finish my degree.”

She said she was unsure how she would have made it without the kindness of friends and family. At one point, her car broke down.

“My neighbor sold her car to me for $500, and she let me pay her $50 a month to help me,” she said. “Someone would bring me a bundle of frozen fish — claiming they didn’t have room for it in their freezer. A friend would stop by with a bag of satsumas or potatoes.”

She said the gestures of love greatly affected her.

“I understood that people saw my struggle, knew I was determined and wanted to be a part of my success,” she said. “I promised myself that one day I would be able to do things for others just like they did for me.”

And so, when she watched her friend, Celeste, struggling with difficulties she knew all too well, she did what she could.

“It’s one thing to go without as an adult, but to see your child go without is hard to take,” she said. “I knew she would not be able to say no to a few bags of groceries. It made me very happy.”

These days, Ormston continues to do what she can to help others.

“I can never forget the kindness people have shown me throughout my life. I have been blessed. If I can pass that on, I will.”