Taco said to me, “Do you think you could help me with a haircut? I have my new job orientation on Friday.” I said, “Of course Taco, I’ll take you to Ms. Paulette at Boro Barber Academy.” He smiled and said, “Thanks Mr. Scott, I wanna look good for my first day!”
I went by and spoke to Ms. Paulette and told her Taco would be meeting me here. She talked about how she looked forward to helping him. When he arrived his hair was long and his beard was shaggy. He told me, “I love Ms. Paulette. When I got there she looked at me and said, you must be Taco… We’ve been waiting for you – have a seat.” He said they treated him like a movie star at Boro Barber Academy. As he told me about his haircut he was grinning from ear to ear.
Taco is from Murfreesboro. He is in his late forties and his parents died in an automobile accident several years ago. He misses them greatly. He later told me how he grew up listening to WGNS every single morning. “I remember riding to school listening to Swap and Shop, I still love it,” he said.
There is something about helping those who are battling homelessness, mental illness or addiction in your own back yard. You are able to instantly relate to their surroundings in a way that is foreign elsewhere.
UPDATE: May 2018
May 17, 2018: I talked to Taco today…
I have received a lot of messages asking how YOU can help Taco, the man I did the short video on who has only 6 months to live due to cancer. You may recall, Taco (Tim Ortega) was headed to Kentucky to spend his remaining time with a girlfriend.
To answer your questions, Taco needs nothing. He has it all.
Amazing things have happened and he missed that Greyhound to Kentucky. But, his sister in Florida saw the video and later sought him. She visited Murfreesboro in the past looking for him about three years ago, but could never locate her little brother.
Long story short, Taco ended up in Florida with her and her husband (both doing great and retired from the Air Force). He was overjoyed.
Taco's sister had a surprise for him the next day of his visit. She took him to the beach that morning where other family members were waiting to be reunited!
The story gets better. Taco was then reunited with his other sister whom he has not seen in about 20 years. She lives in - - I believe Oklahoma. Regardless of the state he is there and he is happy.
Taco told me, “Scott, I have my own bedroom and all the food I could ever need.” I laughed and told him how exciting that was. He then stated, “But Scott, it gets better. She woke me up the other night at 9:30 and asked me to watch TV with her. She then asked if I wanted McDonalds. She picked up the phone and I told her, ‘You can’t order McDonalds, they don’t deliver!’” I could tell Taco started to cry as he explained, “Next thing I know her husband comes in with McDonalds and there was this old man behind him – I thought, who is that?”
The pause was long and I knew the story was going to get even better. “Scott, it was my dad! He’s sitting here with me right now!”
Looking back, Taco thought he was alone in the world. A couple of years after his mother died he secluded himself. Eventually, he became homeless and alcohol took him away for a very long time. He thought his father had died 20-years ago. But, he didn’t. Taco’s father was alive and well.
Taco told me, “Brother, I think I am going to retire here if you know what I mean.”
A man who thought he was all alone is now surrounded by family as he slowly, but happily passes away. His next few months will likely be the very best. Ever.
“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” - Saint Augustine