Tuesday, June 28, 2011


The Unthinkable Dream

Jonathan Goode has a dream. His dream is for everyone to love God and love people just the way Jesus did. His present and sole mission is to tell the country about his dream. So on a cold, rainy January morning, Jonathan and his good friend, Wes Peters, packed most of their worldly belongings in Goode's 2004 gold Nissan Sentra and took to the highways with their GPS in hand to take their message of love for all to the rest of the country as they tour the biggest and the not so biggest cities in the nation.

You may know Jonathan from the days when he worked at the local Chick‑fi‑la. You may also remember him from the original Blackbird's Coffee shop in downtown Dublin. Goode was Blackbird's first manger and helped to influence his good friend Jack Walker to open the popular gathering place. In fact, Jonathan's father Mike just purchased Blackbird's from Walker. Jonathan wants you to remind his mom, Sherry Starley, that God will be with him during his travels.

Jack Walker believes in what Jonathan is doing. "When most people have a great idea, they push it for a short time until they get tired and move on," Jack remarked. Commenting on Jonathan's persistence and his future Walker said, "He's the guy who sticks to it and makes it happen. It's just a matter of time before he's speaking at Catalyst Conference (one of the country's largest gathering of young leaders)‑ you watch."

Christ came early into Jonathan's life. He struggled with the connection between being a Christian and Christ himself. The more he read and the more he prayed, Jonathan realized that if you really love God, you must love everyone, not just your family and friends, but all people, even the ones whom nobody loves.

While on their country‑wide tour, Jonathan and Wes will be showing their film, My Concrete Mattress. "The plight of the homeless in America was an easy choice," said Goode, who believes that the churches of America are helping, but would like to see the three‑quarters of the people in this country who profess themselves to be Christians do more, a lot more. "What we need is a massive God‑like movement," Goode contends.

Wes Peters, a Florida native, who met Jonathan when he enrolled in Dublin High School, discovered a new found faith in Christ as a student at the University of Georgia. Peters believes the movement is contagious and is excited to see the love blossom.

On the first leg of their national tour, Jonathan and Wes plan to travel to Birmingham, Shreveport, Dallas, Little Rock, and Oklahoma City and several smaller venues in between. After a short break to catch up on their sleep, the proponents of unconditional love for all people will start up I‑95 for showings in New Jersey, New York, and Boston or in any place any one will invite them to express their message of love. Goode and Peters hope to make permanent contacts along their path to lay the ground work for building a national organization.

In the film My Concrete Mattress, Jonathan, with the invaluable aid of Jesse Lavender and Mark Mitchell, examines the tumultuous lives of four homeless residents of Atlanta. It wasn't long before Jonathan discovered that he was forced to reevaluate his preconceived ideas of who these people are. "The first thing I had to learn was that they were people, individual people with individual stories and individual names," Goode declared. Jonathan soon realized that the homeless were not the kind of people he thought he could easily avoid while he was living in a big city.

What he did realize was they are people who had things that they were excited about and people who do have a future. They are people who come from homes where drugs and alcohol are as common as sodas and pizzas. They are army veterans, paralegals, high school graduates, and businessmen, some who made bad decisions and others who were the victims of bad luck. They are people who honestly try to break the bonds of homelessness and they are people who live in abandoned buildings in sight of the bright lights of towers where wealthy people work and where the very rich show off their athletic talents to their adoring fans. They are people who sleep in the doors of churches as they seek sanctuary from the villainous streets of Georgia's capital.

"Homelessness is not only in big cities," Goode points out. "It is in small communities where people don't see the problem, and don't think there is a problem, so they don't do anything about it," Jonathan declared. He also points out that there is homelessness right here in Dublin, Georgia. Jonathan makes it clear that it his goal and his organization’s goal to help not only the homeless but all kinds of people. "Rich people learn to love and be loved," Goode explains as to why he started with the poorest people.

Jonathan Goode, a 24‑year‑old recent graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in Political Science, asked for and received without hesitation the help of his old Dublin friends. Emily Taylor, Erin Wu, Jackson Head, Rolin Williamson and Ruthie Green, who joined Eric Davis and Billy Coward in making the low budget film, which was re‑edited to show the progress of the interviewees.

As for the future, Jonathan has no plans. "If I am a good steward of what I have now, I don't worry," remarked Jonathan. He takes one day at a time as he is determined to fully concentrate on his mission to spread the love of Christ. Jonathan is not ruling out going to a seminary in the future. "It has always been a part of me that wants to take this view of Christ and to make it ever present here in Laurens County," Goode wishes.

Goode hopes that everyone will be a part of the solution to the problems of the homeless and the grander goal of eradicating homelessness. He has done the math and figures that those with homes outnumber those without by a factor of at least 100 to 1. "Do something. Donate your time, food or money to a food bank," Jonathan proclaims!

If you would like to follow Jonathan and Wes on their tour or if you would like a copy of My Concrete Mattress, go to www.beunthinkable.org. The cost is up to you. Send what you can. The project could use your money. More importantly, they want your prayers. But, most of all, they want you to love everyone.

Monday, June 6, 2011



Leo Foskey's dark eyes grew bigger and brighter as he opened a special thank you envelope at Thursday's Dublin City Council meeting. He meekly smiled because he knew he had done the right thing. He never intended to do anything else. And, that's what his mamma and daddy have been telling him for all of his thirteen years. And, that's where the heart warming story of Leo Foskey begins.

Back a few months ago, Leo and his father, Kelvin Foskey, were out playing basketball near their new building on the site of the old J.P. Stevens swimming pool on Nathaniel Drive in East Dublin. Leo looked down and saw something shiny in the dirt. He reached down and picked it up, wiped it off and showed it to his father. Instantly the Foskeys knew what they had to do. "Automatically, we thought we have got to find the owner," Kelvin Foskey exclaimed! Leo found the ring in a driveway. The senior Foskey operates a construction company and has many trucks traveling down the path to the old pool site which he has restored. And, there was the ring, not buried under inches of sand, but in plain sight right there in his driveway.

That's where Beth Shoemaker comes into the story. Beth, the librarian at Dublin High School, received a call from Kelvin. Kelvin described the ring as a 1960 Dublin High School class ring with the initials R.T.A. inside. Beth (right in photo)  went to the shelves and pulled out the 1960 annual and looked inside. She didn't have to look far. Right next to Buddy Adams, was Robert Taylor Anderson, the senior class's runner up for most intelligent and most likely to succeed. Anderson's father, Bob, was a local physician.

Mrs. Shoemaker, who was thrilled to help get the ring back to the family to whom it belongs, called several friends, one of whom referred her to Nan Barfoot, (left in above photo)  one of the Dublin High 1960s Mega Reunion leaders. Barfoot was friends with Robert Anderson's sister. That's when the wheels of fate began to spin even faster. Nan sought out and found Joan Anderson, Robert's widow. Sadly Robert died all too young back in 1987. Nan contacted both Joan and Kelvin. She sent a picture of the ring to Anderson's widow, who was then in Kansas at the time visiting one of her sisters when she learned of the ring's recovery.

"I was totally shocked and surprised. I knew the story of him losing the ring, but he would always say, 'Well the day wasn't all bad,'" Mrs. Anderson, a resident of Canton, Georgia, fondly remembered.

Robert had gotten a summer job as the lifeguard at the J.P. Stevens swimming pool which was built for the company's employees and their families. It was on a warm summer day in June 1961, five decades ago, when Joan Holland, a junior at East Laurens High School came to the pool's opening day. Joan had been there before. Her daddy, Quillian Holland, worked at the plant for many years. It was on that fateful day that Robert met Joan for the first time. They began to date and four years later, the young couple married. After meeting Joan, Robert had nearly forgotten that he had misplaced his ring.

"He looked for that ring for the rest of that summer and all of the next summer," Joan remembered. "He put out rope grids and when the pool wasn't being used, he got in the water and sifted the sand. He always thought he lost it in the water, but he must have lost it in the parking lot," Joan concluded.

From the very beginning, Leo Foskey, an upcoming 8th grader at Trinity Christian School, wanted to be the one who personally returned the ring to its rightful owner And, on Thursday, Leo got his wish.

Proclamation honoring Leo Foskey

L-R: Bill Brown, Julie Drigger, Gerald Smith,
Phil Thacker, Ed Touchberry, Jerry Davis (back row)
Leo Foskey, Phil Best (front row)

Nan Barfoot contacted Dublin mayor Phil Best and told him the story of the lost ring. Mayor Best issued a proclamation honoring Leo for his wonderful act of kindness by insuring that the ring was returned to its rightful owner." Best added, "Leo, the council and I are proud of you for doing the right thing." Then, the council and those present stood and loudly applauded the hero of the day.

The finding of the ring happened during the weeks leading up to the Mega Reunion, which was attended by some of Anderson's former classmates and friends. Anderson's old friends, appreciating Leo's act of kindness to one of their own, chipped in and presented Leo with a very substantial cash gift. That's when it began to sink in to Leo what his reward for doing the right thing was. "From the very beginning, I knew that I needed to give the ring back," Leo said.

Some of the Foskey's friends told them that they should keep the ring and sell it for its gold content. When Leo's mother, Jennifer, heard that the family of the ring's owner had been located, she wanted to test her son's sincerity about returning the ring. She already knew what his response would be. It was an answer that she and her husband had learned about doing the right thing, lessons she and her family learned at Blackville Church of God, where they have been long time members.

Mrs. Foskey said to her son, "Your daddy has found the owner of the ring." She added, "And, he's giving it back. Some people say we need to keep the ring." Leo responded, "What do they want us to do - keep something that is not ours?" "I wanted to make sure just as parents, that it was his choice to give it back and not ours," Mrs. Foskey concluded.

L-R - Joan Anderson, Leo Foskey, Kelvin Foskey, Jennifer Foskey, Beth Shoemaker
Nan Barfoot

After many hand shakes and pats on his back, the Foskeys and their allies in returning the ring posed with Joan for a group picture. That's when the Foskeys learned of their kinship to Joan Anderson's family.

Then it was off to the site of the old swimming pool where the ring had been lying for nearly half a century waiting for the day when Joan would come back and claim the ring she never got a chance to wear. For just a few moments Joan remembered that day, fifty years ago, when she met and began to fall in love with the man she would later marry. And who says that our society no longer has good young people who do the right thing? We now know there is at least one of them and his name is Leo Foskey.