Keys for Chris
Have you ever been thankful for the keys on your keychain?
It may strike you as odd at first but consider the thought
for a moment.
Most of us wish we didnt have as many as we do. But
for some, keys are more than cumbersome objects connecting
us to our cars, home and work.
Chris is nearing 50 years old. His apartment in North County
is not that big. But its very nice and comfortable.
His furniture is simple.
Chris was homeless for over 20 years.
Originally from Chicago, Chris walked to St. Louis as a
younger man. But thats another story. Suffice it to
say, the lack of a family structure and an addiction to
alcohol brought him here. For years he worked off and on
as a carpenter, ironically, rehabbing homes.
If youve ever gone for a bike ride along the trail
adjacent to the river downtown, you know that it starts
near the landing and takes you as far north as the Old Chain
of Rocks bridge. Ever been there? If so, you were very near
to Chris old address. In fact, you probably drove
right past it.
Chris lived in an abandoned building just off the bike
path downtown. In the unbearable heat and unyielding cold
of St. Louis weather, Chris slept on the floor of one of
its rooms. Somehow he still managed to catch the bus to
work for years, returning in the evenings, exhausted.
Keep in mind this is a man that would not tolerate you
feeling sorry for him. Hes the first to admit he placed
himself in that situation. And like most of us when caught
in the pattern of habit, stayed that way.
Over time Chris preferred to be alone and adopted a general
mistrust of others. His addiction to alcohol eventually
made work impossible.
By the grace of God, Chris realized how tired he had become
of his way of life. He knew that if he continued he would
And so, he reached out.
"Im clean now and have been for years. I thank
God for every day. I thank God for this place. For my television,
my kitchen, the fact that I can cook on my own stove, have
friends over, even the cable guy. Im thankful for
my bed and that took some getting used to let me tell you.
Im even thankful for the school across the street
that theyre building. I cant wait to hear the
kids yellin and screamin at recess. Thatll remind
me of my own childhood. Im thankful for my job, my
boss, whose a fair man by the way. And of course I thank
God for every single person who ever helped me along the
way. And thats a lot of people. A lot of patient people.
I thank God for every one of them. I also thank God that
I can give back by being a role model for other guys working
their own programs. Ive been a sponsor for years and
Im proud of that. Giving back is important! But right
now I am especially thankful to God for these keys and what
they mean to me. These keys are my second chance. For me
they are hope. And I plan to hang on to them forever."