Floyd Erwin knows something about rolling with the punches. “When I was told that my kidneys were failing, the doctor called me back to tell me that I also had lung cancer.” His poor health has not deterred Floyd from living a full and purposeful life with his nephew … or sour his soothing disposition.
Until his medical diagnosis, Floyd was a gourmet chef. “My pastor asked me to volunteer to cook for the battered women and children center at the church. We used to get all sorts of things donated. It felt so good when those women were happy to see me, knowing that they were going to get a good meal out of all that hodge-podge.”
At the St. Vincent de Paul Society we serve our clients in a way that reflects the beliefs of St. Vincent himself, “We should strive to keep our hearts open to the sufferings .. of other people, and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit of compassion which is truly the spirit of God.”
Born and raised in Chicago, Floyd described it as a “hard” place to live. His small apartment on West Washington Street is furnished sparsely but full of photos of extended family and the pottery that Theodore enjoys making in Pottery Class.
“I took Theodore and his brother Jesse on when my sister died back in 1998.” Theodore, now 17 years old, is a sophomore in high school. He suffers the lingering and long-term effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The small family left their home in Chicago because at ten years old, Theodore had not learned to read or write. “I put him in the public schools here and he started learning right away.” Theodore has dreams for his future. He’d like to work in a restaurant. To that end, he earned an internship at the University of Notre Dame where he assists in North Dining Hall every day after school. In response to a compliment about how lucky Theodore is to have him as a father-figure, Floyd responds, “I’m lucky to have him. He is such a good boy with a big heart.”
Floyd and Theodore receive food from the St. Vincent de Paul Society to supplement Floyd’s disability benefits. “Every time I come to St. Vincent everybody is so welcoming and so nice. It makes asking for help so much easier. Theodore and I have hit some hard times, but we’ve had our blessings, too.” If his health improves, Floyd would like to go back to cooking to earn a living; “not that short order stuff, but cooking real food, like lobster and steak.”
Floyd is only one of many people who have come to rely on the generosity of his neighbors to support him as he has supported others in his life.
" “When I was told that my kidneys were failing, the doctor called me back to tell me that I also had lung cancer.” "
" “Every time I come to St. Vincent everybody is so welcoming and so nice. It makes asking for help so much easier. ” "