Jean-Pierre inspires me

Jean-Pierre works on our team each Tuesday night as we provide a pretty decent meal to about 100 people through the Restos du Coeur organization. He’s about 70 years old and retired. You could say that his social skills don’t rank very high. He doesn’t say much, preferring hand signals that communicate “come here” and “get out of my way” and “don’t do it that way”.

But here’s how Jean-Pierre inspires me….

  • He’s alway there. He’s a fixture. He’s always one of the first to arrive.
  • Not only does Jean-Pierre do Tuesday night with us, but every other night of the week (except Saturday) he is in a different part of the city, helping a different food distribution team.
  • J-P has created his own position. He circulates all evening. Among those eating, he distributes magazines and makes sure everyone has napkins, salt and pepper. Among those of us who are serving food, he is constantly checking to see if there is enough trays, cups, etc, wiping up spills, carrying the tray for those with difficulty.
  • J-P brings with him each evening at least 6-10 empty bottles which he has recycled and cleaned, so that those who want to take extra soup or coffee, can use them.
  • As if this was not enough, Jean-Pierre evidently spends his day hours making little gadgets (out of recycled materials) that helps out in practical ways: funnels and their holders, salt and pepper shakers, spoon rests, magazine holders, etc. These are all a bit quirky with bright colors, but it is obvious he has spent a lot of time with these because they are complicated, joining several materials with pop rivets, etc.

It is an extremely beautiful thing to watch a rather ugly and rough old man live out such compassion (in his own quirky way) toward his fellow human beings (many who are immigrants he can hardly understand) night after night after night after night after night.

I’ve had a few more conversations with Jean-Pierre. Here are some more interesting tidbits about this man:

  • we celebrated his 69th birthday the other night. My friend, Laura Llorens, who came by to sing, did an amazing version of “Happy Birthday” for J-P….he was obviously moved to have a beautiful young woman leading a room of 80 people in singing a really cool, up-beat version of the tune.
  • J-P has worked most of his life as a physical therapist…helping people, again.
  • I asked him straight out if he only helped with Restos du Coeur on Tuesday night. He response surprised me – He told me that every night of the week (except Saturday) he helps out in a different are of the city. Then he drew close and whispered to me that on Saturdays he DOES visit one of the serving sites, but NOT to work…he just drinks coffee with the people who come by.

This man is truly amazing! Although he doesn’t look it on the outside, I consider Jean-Pierre a fine example of what humanity is suppose to look like.