by Ifeoma Okolo 

A few years back, one of the staff in a respite program passed on, his name was Eddie Jones. As the accountant for that respite program, I had over the years reconciled his payroll, analyzed his receipts and expenses, calculated his targets and tracked his productivity and he was stellar in all his performances. I had never met Eddie but I felt I knew him very well and the news of his death touched me. Knowing that his Supervisors and co-workers were quite devastated by this loss, I decided to attend his viewing—to commiserate with them, and to pay my respects to the family.

On the day of the viewing, after I got off from work- I drove to the Vaughn Greene Funeral home on York Road and joined the crowd of mourners mingling in the carpeted halls. I looked for Kevin, Debbie, Rodney or any of the Light Street staff that I imagined would be in attendance, but I could not make out any familiar face, so I sat down for a while. I noticed an older lady whom everyone was stopping to console and I wondered if she was Eddie’s wife or mother or sister, I really had no clue. After an hour of quiet contemplation, I decided it was decent enough time for me to leave. I walked over to the older lady and introduced myself. I told her I was from Catholic Charities and that I worked with Eddie, I expressed my sympathy for her loss.

“Did you say work at Catholic Charities?” I nodded

“Oh my TJ loved going there, they taught him to swim and he always enjoyed their Summer Camps.”

“TJ?” I asked slightly puzzled.

“Yes, that is his nick-name that is what we called him at home.”

She then turned around and introduced me to family members and informed them that I was from Catholic Charities. Everyone came over to shake my hands and reminisce about something good or the other related to Catholic Charities. Several threw out names, asking if I knew them, some asked if we were now hiring. Everyone was smiling at me and now I know why, because at that very moment I was representing something good, something that had touched their lives, and something that gave them hope, I was the face of Catholic Charities. As Kevin Keegan put it, “I am proud to be part of an organization that is so focused on our mission, committed to the work, and so unwavering in our values.”

I later found out from Kevin Mason that I was in the wrong room. So I never met Eddie Jones in life or in death but it is likely I will never forget him. May his soul rest in peace, amen!