Words of
Encouragement & Hope
Submitted by Fran Sandoval

When I was young, I was painfully shy. I didn't want to be, but it's the way it was through junior high and high school. Though it was socially isolating - along the way a few teachers and students reached out to me. They didn't know it at the time, but they were lifelines, as their kind gestures helped me to go on. 
At twenty years old, I dropped out of college for a year and moved to N.Y.C. to 'learn about life.' I was so naive, had minimal job skills, lived a sparse existence in a city that was way over my head.

What I did have, though, was a strong work ethic and a tender heart, which thankfully did not go unnoticed by some. The company where I worked was so large that it had a full-time nurse who befriended me and fed me lunch every day. Another woman took me under her wing and gave me clothes, spiritual support and a sweet friendship. 
When I recall times like these, and many others in my life, I am filled with gratitude. For through the years - strangers, acquaintances, dear friends and family, have lifted me up. 

I believe that being helpful, kind, encouraging, loving and forgiving are divine gifts: like spokes on a wheel, with God at its center. Even the smallest gestures can affect a life, or save a life. An outstretched hand can guide someone out of the abyss into hope and life. 

I've seen it, known it and thank God for it.   

Fran Sandoval