Updated: Nov 4, 2021
When I decided to write the story about Hector, I quickly realized the story was about more than just a blind homeless man's journey. Hector was forced to live on the streets with numerous illnesses including advanced glaucoma which required cataract surgery to cure his blindness.
The real story is about the team at Matthew's Hope who rallied together to give Hector the love and support which helped him go from darkness to light. The team is led by Scott Billue, the CEO of Matthew's Hope Ministries, who despite being exhausted from running a homeless ministry that services thousands of homeless guests, Scott took the time to give Hector the tough love necessary for him to get the surgery.
Hector refused to go to the doctor's office to treat the open wounds on his feet that were infected.
Scott said, "Hector, I'll make it real easy for you. You can take over your medical care from here and by the way you're not going to get your eye surgery because if that poison goes through your system, you're going to lose your leg".
At that point Hector said, "OK Pastor Scott, I'll go". When Hector got to the hospital, they said if the infection went another day without being treated, it could have cost Hector his leg and perhaps his life. As a result of Scott's persistence and tough love , Hector not only has his leg, but can now see with 20/50 vision.
Hector's story is about Dr. Gupta who is volunteering his services to Matthew's Hope in his retirement. In his first two weeks he heard story after story that would "break his heart, he was either very angry or crying". Getting help for Hector was no easy task. Dr. Gupta went to two different organizations which wanted to get Hector's "stimulus check" for outpatient work before paying for his cataract surgery.
Finally, Dr. Gupta found a caring doctor through his connections with Advent Health CHIP committee. Dr. Wang, of the Florida Eye Institute, agreed to perform surgery without any cost. Thanks to Dr. Gupta and Dr. Wang, there were no physicians' fees, no facility charge, and no anesthesia charges.
Daniel, another dedicated staff member at Matthew's Hope, has been assisting Hector for the last 18 months. Daniel has been transporting Hector to and from where he's been living on the streets. He helps him on and off the bus. Daniel cares for Hector like family. Hector calls Daniel "My Son". It is heartwarming to see their bond.
"This is a relationship that was built by a man who couldn't see anything, and by another man who didn't care (that he couldn't see). All he cared about was how could I care for him and love him as Christ loves him" stated Scott Billue.
The story continues with Pastor Frankie. Pastor Frankie would help bath Hector. Hector couldn't see, reach for his clothes, find the soap. We can only imagine the level of trust and compassion that is required for one adult male to allow another to wash him. They joked, "Hector you can now see who's been washing your butt".
Nurse Linda was responsible for coordinating the care. Linda arranged transportation to and from doctor appointments, got Hector his prescription drugs and eye drops. Hector got admitted to a rehab facility to take care of his other medical conditions before surgery could be done. Hector stayed at the rehab facility for a month.
"I just wanted to give Hector a hug" Linda said.
Hector's surgery was done successfully on one eye. His vision was restored and now he can walk and do daily routines without assistance. Hector is planning on cooking Chinese food for Matthew's Hope.
For months, I've been hearing about Hector's story from the team at Matthew's Hope. It didn't matter whether I was speaking with Scott, Nancy, Shelly, or Sharlene, our conversation somehow ended with Hector and his journey. I knew our team at Minion Media Group had to cover the story.
So many people look at Matthew's Hope as "a place to drop off donations". A place to drop off cans of food and used clothing. Unfortunately, beyond "it's the right thing to do", they don't know why. In November, they will be having their Garden Party. This Matthew's Hope event is lots of fun and another opportunity for us to make the much needed donations to benefit the thousands of homeless men and women in our community. Hector's story is our "Why".
On the day Minion Media came to film Hector's first meeting with the Matthew's Hope staff since he regained his vision, I witnessed Scott get very emotional. As the tears rolled down his cheek, he said "I feel like I can finally come up for air. It's like I've been holding my breath for the last year and a half".
As a small business consultant for more than 20 years, I've seen that emotion before. I knew Scott's wave of emotion was not just about Hector. It was about the thousands of "Hectors". It was about the daily pressures of running a homeless ministry during COVID...and yes the one moment where Scott was able to witness his whole team come together and help a blind man see. So when Hector says "I see you Pastor Scott", their is a realization that his many sleepless nights are worth it. The team at Matthew's Hope continues to amaze me every day. If you haven't had the opportunity to take a tour, you must. It will change your life. Each homeless guest at Matthew's Hope has a story, we just have to be willing to open our eyes and see it.