You know a real friend when…

When I was a wayward youth I managed to get myself into sufficient trouble that the state felt it was in everybody’s best interest for me to spend my 16th year in a secure facility. The journey there involved several hearings in a very beautiful room in Santa Barbara County’s famous courthouse. Since I was a juvenile and the proceedings were therefore confidential, observers were not allowed in the courtroom. Just me, my public defender, a prosecutor, and the judge. It was lonely, confusing, and scary.

At the final hearing I was given my sentence: one year in Los Prietos Boy’s Camp, a place of fearsome reputation. I was a gentle hippy type (it was 1972) and for me this was a very frightening moment. After the judge pronounced his sentence I was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom.

And there, standing in the hallway, was my friend Deborah. She alone had come to give me much-needed moral support. We were able to exchange a quick nod, and then I was marched away.

It’s many years later, but that moment was one I’ll never forget. Deborah and I have only sporadic contact over the years; she and her family live in another part of the state, and with her husband she’s had a very successful business that’s kept her quite occupied. But this morning she showed up in my life yet again. And in a curious way, it’s a bit of a replay of that moment in 1972.

As some readers will know, we’ve started a fundraising campaing we are calling “High Fives.” The aim is to generate much-needed case flow by getting 1000 people to donate $5.00 per month. It’s also an opportunity for anyone to make a one-time donation, in any amount. We just launched the campaign, and as is appropriate, the first donors have all been staff, board, and our immediate family members. This is a great launch.

And then, our very next donor is Deborah. Still there, still giving support, all these years and all this distance later.

Unforgettable.

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