hope-signJackie Wilson drove into a Falls Church, Virginia shopping mall when for no apparent reason her attention locked on a young black man in his twenties wearing jeans and sweatshirt who was stopping a stranger to show him a piece of paper. Minutes later, across the parking lot he suddenly approached her, out of breath.

He told her he was in trouble.

Richmond State Prison Farm instructed him to arrive at a halfway house in Damascus, Maryland 60 miles away by 3 PM. Faulty directions, he said, led him to Jackie, lost and desperate. “I need help,” he said.

Jackie, in her sixties, offered him her favorite motherly advice: “Take 3 deep breaths. Release, let go, let God.” She asked if he believed in a higher power. He affirmed the idea and she calmed him with the assurance that all was in divine order.

“Have you eaten today?” No.

She gave him money and sent him to the KFC while she filled her ca-a (Boston accent) with gas. He returned and opened his hand with the change, which impressed her. They boarded the car for the drive to the subway station.

She learned his name was Clarence, he was from Delaware, had been in prison 10 years for what he described as a nonviolent drug offense. He talked about Enron, and how, “those men hurt so many people… and they won’t go to jail.”

He kept thanking her over and over.

He told her there were no buses from the subway station that would deliver him to Damascus. She gave him money for a cab. He kicked over his drink in her clean car and was fretting, trying to clean up the mess. She urged him out toward the trains, writing down her phone number in case he needed to verify his whereabouts.

When Jackie related the incident to her son, he flipped. “Are you crazy? Haven’t you heard of car-jackers!!” She said it never crossed her mind. It felt from the start that it was right. “I knew I was meant to help this young man. I had no fear.” And, she reports that since that day, everything is going her way. “It’s incredible. The universe is just flowing. Everything is coming to me. Incredible.”

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