How Emily Bridgers Helped a Terminal Homeless Man
Two years ago, CrossFit Terminus moved to an up and coming neighborhood of Atlanta. A thriving community based gym, their core values read, “We strive for a community that supports and fosters physical, emotional, and spiritual harmony. We strive to make the conscious choice to follow through and do the ‘right’ thing every day and in every decision.”
Sounds like a great place.
It’s also owned by Emily Bridgers and her husband, Ben Benson. They’re there every day, coaching, cleaning, and putting in the long hard hours every box owner is familiar with.
But there’s another person there all those hours, too. His name is Thomas and he lives in a covered carport just behind their parking lot.
Two Sundays ago, Emily was leaving the gym when Thomas said hello. Emily stopped and said hello back. Thirty minutes later, the two were still talking. He told Emily that the building used to be a boxing studio, all about the neighborhood before it had begun to be renovated, and his younger days as a man in Atlanta. Turns out, Thomas has been homeless for a decade.
He also told Emily that doctors had just revealed to him he had liver failure and only a few weeks to live.
That’s not good.
On Monday morning, returning to the gym, she made it a point to say hello to Thomas. She asked how she could help. Since then, she has checked in on Thomas every day. She’s brought him new clothing and invited him into the gym to shower.
All that checking in on him allowed Emily to see Thomas’s living conditions. She reached out to Performa Sleep, one of the companies that sponsor her, with Thomas’s story. Two days later, a brand new Performa Sleep mattress was delivered to CrossFit Terminus. Now Thomas has clean clothes, a comfortable place to rest, access to a shower, and someone who makes it a point to check in on him every day.
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Since then, I’ve asked how I can help and am checking in with him daily. I feel ashamed it took two years for me to even ask. He’s very stubborn and is hesitant to accept anything. He doesn’t understand why I would want to help him. So far, we’ve gotten as far as new clothes and a shower at the gym. I’ve never seen someone’s eyes light up the way his did when I gave him a brand new UGA polo with tags on! That brings me to today. I sent a text to Jonathan from @performasleep on Monday explaining Thomas’ sleeping conditions. Two days later, a mattress arrived and I’ve never been so excited to give anything to anyone! He was very appreciative and I couldn’t be more proud to work with a company like @performasleep. This new friendship is all uncharted territory for me but I want to ask you guys for two things. 1. Prayers for knowing the next steps to help Thomas. 2. Consider saying hi to the next homeless person you see. Most of us cannot relate to what they may be going through or what they’ve been through, but love and kindness are powerful things. You never know where it might lead. ❤️
Talk about community.
Since then Emily has had hundreds of people reach out to her asking to help. CrossFitters everywhere have asked to send him clothes, to donate towards his medical expenses, even asking how they can help convert his place into a livable tiny home. In true CrossFit spirit, the community is coming together to support a fellow community member.