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Friends do matter - Jaya Franklin

A week from today, most of us will be sitting around a table eating and celebrating Thanksgiving with our families.

But what about the people who don't have family?

When I was younger, it was hard for me to fathom not having a family: no one to talk to, no one to spend holidays with. It's pretty depressing. But, as I got older, I realized that the people who are there for you, or somehow or another, help you along the way, don't necessarily have to be your family -- biologically. They can just be someone who is close to you.

About five years ago, I had a friend named Calvin. He was an older man I met at a restaurant. Everytime I went to this restaurant, no matter what day or time, I would see Calvin walking around the restaurant picking up trash or just standing around.

Eventually, I found out that Calvin was homeless and actually lived at the restaurant. I felt sorry for him and began to feel guilty when I went home and went to sleep in a cozy bed, while Calvin was sleeping at a cold, drafty restaurant. It was a weird feeling.

Everyone knows that there are homeless people out there, but you never really take that problem home with you, until you meet someone, up close and personal, who is going through this tragic time.

I began to take Calvin food, and to talk to him more. After graduating from high school, I moved out of the area and lost touch with my friend. I would come back and look for him, but I couldn't find him anywhere.

One day this year, I went to Dollar Tree to pick up some soap and junk food, when I heard a man talking. I turned around and looked at the guy, and he looked just like Calvin! He had a beard and he was about the same height.

But I noticed something about the guy that was different than the old Calvin. The man was neatly shaven, and he was wearing a uniform of some sort. After standing there for awhile, I realized that it was Calvin. He apparently had a job and he looked as if he may not be homeless anymore.

He was at the cash register paying for some items. I was shocked and so happy that I didn't know what to do. Even though, all I've done for Calvin is be his friend and bring him a couple of meals, I felt like I contributed to this new confidence that could now be seen in him.

However, I didn't realize while I was standing there thinking of all these great things, my buddy was walking out the door. Needless to say, I didn't catch up with him, and I failed to speak to him. I felt bad later on that I didn't get to speak to him.

But, It just satisfied me to know that he was doing better and accomplishing new things.

Jaya Franklin covers government for the Henry Daily Herald. She can be reached via e-mail at jfranklin@henryherald.com.