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The Day I Met Deon Copeland

I get off of work today earlier than normal (which reminds me of another recent time I got off work early and something God-given/ crazy happened!) and as I’m driving the work van home, I see 2 Hanover County deputies talking to a black man sitting under a tree at the intersection of Mechanicsville Turnpike and Bell Creek Rd. At this point (in my experience with LEO’s), I naturally assumed they were harassing him for no justifiable reason (which turned out to be right).

I DO want to take special note though, he said that was the second time the police were trying to question him as he traveled on foot, here in Hanover County. The first cop apparently, ended up buying the guy some to-go, type of food and found him to give him the food, down the street after he was confronted the second time by a pair of deputies. I applaud your good and kind behavior officer, whomever you are.

So I passed the pair of cops talking to this guy while I drove to  drop off the van.  As I was coming back that direction to head home from running a quick errand after getting my vehicle, I saw this tall, slender black fellow walking along the shoulder of the turnpike (in front of my neighborhood) with a white plastic bag (something I didn’t see in his possession previously) and heading toward the intersection I had initially saw him.

 

Deon Copeland and I

I pulled into my neighborhood, thought about it for about 3 seconds, circled the block, pulled onto the turnpike and asked him if he wanted a ride. He immediately said yes. He was toting around a white bag that had a to-go style container in their and a shirt of some sort. I asked him where he was headed and he said he didn’t know really, he wasn’t from the area and he was homeless. He preceded to tell me he was trying to get to NYC to connect with some people he knows up there. I drove about a mile and realized he had no real plan of action, that he just wanted to go north – and only had a couple bucks to his name.

So we talked briefly and I ended up pulling and U-Turn and headed to my house. His goal was to get funds for a Mega Bus ticket up to NYC. After we got back to my house we hung out for a minute and talked and strategized. I made the decision to buy him a bus ticket. So I did that and then felt the need to set him up for success and get him some travelling gear – because he had no bags, nothing but what he was wearing and in his pockets.

So after I secured the ticket, we drove to Good Will. I got him a back pack and another smaller tote bag, and small travel size pillow – can’t go wrong with that! After we got back home I started scouring the house of essentials a backpacker/ hitchhiker/ survivalist would need.

I gave him several pairs of jeans and khakis, about 5 t-shirts and a collared polo-shirt, Dozen pair of socks a travel size toiletry back packed with, brand new tooth brush, tooth paste, soap, lotion, etc.. Hooked him up with a thermos,  Vitamins, toilet paper, a new testament bible, another book, some “Know your Rights” information, to include a Liberty Empowerment Packet. Hooked him up with a light-wight jacket, a “Who Owns You” Hoodie from online store over at CopBlock.org, some pocket knives, 2 pocket sized flash lights, batteries, some snacks in ziplock bags, canned fruit, matches, and a bunch of other stuff he could use.

He wanted to shave off his beard, so I gave him the tools necessary to do that. He showered, first time in a while he said, while I cooked a frozen pizza for us. I had Deon, aka “Bobby”, in my company for a little more than 3 hours. Had some good conversations with him. He said he went to a Technical School studying HVAC, but I guess didn’t complete it (or maybe he did) because he said he never received a certificate. At some point sort-of early on, after we got to my house, he said he had recently got out of 6 weeks in jail in Baltimore, but it sounded like he was travelling from South Carolina, where his mother lives. For whatever reason, their relationship is on shaky ground at the moment. We talked about the jail thing briefly, nothing alarming, sounds like he got screwed over like many other black men do unfortunately.

Deon and Nate with Dog

 

I ended up giving him one of my green army duffle bags because all the stuff I gave him wouldn’t fit in the two smaller bags I bought for him. After we ate, we packed up, the duffle-bag filled up about half way and the backpacked most of the way. He was set, sporting the ACU Army pants I gave him and rocking the “Who Owns you Hoodie”. I continued to through dialogue, show him some love and encouragement hoping to cheer him on to success.

As we headed into Richmond to the bus station, I gave him my card and I told him to keep in touch if at all possible and to try and let me know that he got their safe and sound. It’s an over night bus that put him in NYC, if it’s on schedule around 5am. With my second hand experience with buses, they usually run behind.

Deon and Nate

Anyways, I say all this NOT to self aggrandizing, because for those of you who know me, you know I constantly help people out, try and be a positive influence and impact people’s lives and don’t ever want credit for it. I share this story with you simply because there is plenty of negativity on the internet and plenty of “bad influences”.

I share this because I want YOU to get motivated to not only practice what you preach, but to just step outside your comfort zone and look people in the eyes and ask them how they are and what you can do to help them. I hope this inspires someone to show some love to people you don’t know. Show some encouragement and be a cheerleader in someone’s life, even if it happens to be  a total stranger. Don’t allow your mind to judge people based off their appearance or skin color, we’re all humans and we all just want to be loved. Get out there and DO SOMETHING, for other people.

I was REALLY torn whether or not to share this story.. I really don’t like all the attention that could come with it. But the more I thought about it, and how much negative stuff is in the news and on the internet, I decided to go for it.

Deon Copeland, if you ever check out my website and read this blog, KNOW that I Believe in you and I am confident you can succeed at what your vision and goals are. I got your back my new friend, please be in touch and I hope our paths meet again!

To wrap this up in the words of Maya Angelou,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou