There are different loves you see if you walk slowly around the Camillus campus. There’s the kitchen cook who graduated from homelessness and greets someone newly going through it with words cheered to perfection as if to say, “I see you, my friend.”
There are Camillus staff employees who take to heart the Brothers’ counsel to serve in the spirit of hospitality. Whose hearts open to share with a co-worker the news of a client’s new job offer.
And there are lovers. A love story. Perhaps as improbable as any. Given where they’ve been and where they’re going. As improbable as their real names. Laughter is his last. Joy is her middle. And as for rodeos, as the expression, goes, this ain’t their first.
As a practicing lawyer, I was trained to separate couples before interviews. For confidentiality. And control. So, when Mr. Charles Laughter (pronounced like daughter with an L, as he explains) plants the possibility of his wife joining us, I’m stymied.
But I go along with it. I’m just the storyteller.
If sunset flew in before dusk on a blue butterfly and rested on our courtyard wall, it would awaken as the colorful bird mural behind me as I interview The Laughters on the Camillus campus.
And if sunrise flew out of here after dawn one day, it would be The Laughters. And the day would be December 4th. That’s the day they’ll graduate into their new homes off-campus.
Although this talk of graduates makes these clients students of life, it is their lives that make them our teachers in this story. And what lessons do they plan?
Persistence. Trust. Dynamism. And the power of wearing your heart on your sleeves.
Thanks to the generous support of the Allegany Franciscan Ministries, this loving couple together saves around $500/month with the unlimited passes granted through the Common Good Initiative – Impact Fund.
The unlimited passes are lifesavers to the Laughters and additional clients because often it’s many connecting buses to get to their worksites. And that’s just one-way. Additionally, the money they save lets them dream about their stated goal of getting a TV for their soon-to-be-new home. Because although they’re happy to watch the NFL and The Walking Dead on their smart phones, they are hungry to grow. And not just hungry anymore as they’ve been before.
Our valued partners at CareerSource South Florida, located on-site, connected them with worksites.
The generous gift donated for their bus passes takes The Laughters further than paid for because it’s about more than arriving to points A and B. It’s about him looking at me in his Warby Parker-looking glasses and telling me with the tenacity of Tim Tebow leading the Gators to football championships that they’re going to make it. It’s about him scrunching his collar down to show me his tattoo for his childhood friend. It’s about him having something to share.
Most couples let you in slowly but there are no reservations here. You can help anytime you want. They don’t want a handout. Just the hope you hand them when you listen.
They hold court in the Camillus House courtyard as friends and staff regale them with greetings. They’re superstars here because they’re go-getters and they’re sharing that with us all and it’s contagiously good for us all.
She is Angelic Joy Laughter. He is Charles A. Laughter. They saw each other around town over a decade and a half. Coupled around 9 years ago, married a year later. And they’ve been working hard ever since. Thanks to the Allegany Franciscan Ministries support, the Laughters are on the road to a new life, away from the streets and into their own apartment.
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