By Sam Rains
Nine months ago, I met Jasper Washington for the first time. He was living at the IFC Homeless Shelter and trying to get a job. For four months, Jasper, Michael Caragher and I applied to any job we found online. In the midst of this time, it seemed that there would be no fruit for our labors and it became very frustrating for me.
However, Jasper was so calm one would have no idea that he did not have a job. As a college student who hears that a job leads to a career, which leads to happiness, or lack thereof, Jasper’s demeanor provided the other side of reality. My original plans rarely work the way I design them to, and I think that may be an indication of how the rest of my life will work. Seeing my guy, Jasper, come in every week with the same get-after-it mentality that is quick, but not rushed, gave me a glimpse on how to handle pressure.
Fortunately, the story does not end at stress-management techniques. Two months after school ended, I got a call from Jasper. He called to tell me he had TWO jobs. It made my week. Looking back on those six months, it doesn’t surprise me that he has moved into an apartment. His calmness derived from a confidence that everything would work itself out and that the process of getting something is more valuable than attaining one’s goals.
The most exciting part of this story, though, is the fact that I do not know anything regarding Jasper’s savings. I never helped him deposit money or set up an account. I did not know that he had an account or that he was putting money into it. He was so focused on getting to his goal that he did not need me to get him there. The lessons he learned about savings and being smart with one’s money were applied immediately. Jasper took what he had and ran with it, and has an apartment, along with a plethora of options for his future that will come sooner, rather than later.
Get to know him sometime, he cooks food in Lenoir and has to take breaks. There are numerous resources to learn from at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Jasper is one that will prove very beneficial to me after I graduate.