A Gift From Sterling

It’s hard to imagine now, but Sterling came to Water Street shy and reserved. Due to his health, he was unable to work, but his friends wanted to make sure he was safe and brought him for an intake with Tjwana Reed, our Director of Access and Case Management.

“I could tell he was so afraid of being here,” she says, adding in disbelief, “to see who he is today.”
Now Sterling is about as open and friendly as they come. He grew to thrive in Water Street’s community, always making an effort to connect with everyone he met. He was even known for finding your favorite candy and giving it to you at just the right time.

“His love language was

making people smile.”

— Tjwana Reed
Director of Access and
Case Management

“He would find you at your lowest point of the day, and here he was with this candy that you didn’t need, and he would give it to you.” Tjwana says. “His love language was making people smile.”

Sterling’s desire to make others smile extended past the square block we call Water Street. He wanted everyone who was a part of the Water Street community, donors, volunteers, and more, to feel the love. So, with a little encouragement from staff, Sterling started making drawings to give away.

At the beginning, his work centered on messages of gratitude, simply writing ‘thank you’ and ‘bless you’ surrounded by flowers or some of his favorite subjects, like horses and birds. He’d always explain it as “the least I can do”.

But then, as he grew and changed at Water Street, so did his art. “I feel like I got an inside look at his transformation because it morphed throughout the years,” says Amy Bartholomew, one of our Partner Ambassadors. “You could see how God was moving in his life, just through his art.”

Over time, Sterling’s drawings became more personal, including his own favorite bible verses that he would write over and over.

Recently, Sterling moved into a group home where he can retire. While his warm personality is missed, we’re so honored to have been a part of his story. “I’m proud of his journey because he did exactly what he needed to do and left when it was perfect for him to say goodbye,” says Tjwana.

Before Sterling moved on from our campus, however, he left one more heartfelt note for supporters of Water Street:
“Why not ask him to save you right now?
You can pray from your heart a simple prayer like this one!
Dear Lord, I now realize that I am a sinner and that you died for me. I repent of my sin and ask you to now come into my heart and save me and take me to heaven when I die.
Thank you, Lord, for saving me, In Jesus’s name, Amen.”

We hope this art from Sterling touches you as much as your support touches us, and the lives of people like our incredible Sterling! We’re so grateful to walk in relationship with our guests and can only do so because of all of you!


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