The Park Bench Moment

dr-gregory-talking“After the events, for months I could not stop thinking about how this person could completely turn his life around – from a homeless person, somewhat deranged on drugs and alcohol, not showering for years and living in a forest in almost complete isolation for ten years. I will never look at a homeless person the same again”.

I recently had the privilege of travelling with Dr Gregory Smith for an 8-event roadshow, combining motivational speakers and a chance to meet with local employers to thousands of local jobseekers in Northern NSW and Southeast Qld.

Travelling with Dr Gregory Smith (or Dr G as we started to cheekily call him), was one of the most fulfilling times of my career.

I listened to his talk eight times (having to film them at each event) but never tired of hearing his story.

After the events, for months I could not stop thinking about how this person could completely turn his life around – from a homeless person, somewhat deranged on drugs and alcohol, not showering for years and living in a forest in almost complete isolation for ten years. I will never look at a homeless person the same again.

But it was his ‘park bench’ moment that really got to me. After ten years in the forest he was very unwell, weighing less than six and a half stone and having to walk with a stick. He knew he had to get out or die and luckily he was supported by a social worker at the hospital he stumbled into. He stayed in the hospital long enough to get some support (even get some Centrelink benefits organised – he had money for the first time in however long…). Sitting on the park bench he said he had all the essentials (bought with his money), a backpack of drugs and alcohol to get himself through again. To numb the pain. What happened to make him get off that park bench, leave the backpack behind and start his life again, from scratch?  From the Park Bench to a PhD Academic?  A small light inside had not gone out – the light of hope coupled with an inherent tenacity- and that was his saving grace.

I watched him touch all the jobseekers hearts, you could probably hear a pin drop at times, in a room full of restlessness ‘Dr G’ had his audience captured and spellbound.

An unforgettable experience and I am proud to say I have formed a long-lasting friendship with this man, his fortitude, wisdom and grace is something I will always admire and respect.

 


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