For the 2015 Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, Ben wrote this essay to express what volunteers mean to Circle the City patients.

My name is Ben, and I am a patient at Circle the City. For you to understand why I am here, I need to explain a few things to you. I was in prison from 1998 to 2014. Yes, you’re right, that’s a very long time. On October 11, 2013, while still in prison, I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. It’s a very rare bone cancer. My diagnosis is incurable and my appearance is deceiving. I’m Stage 4.

When I was released from prison in May 2014, I had to go live on the streets without my treatments or medication. I tried for as long as I could but my condition worsened. My adopted grandmother found Circle the City in April, and they interviewed me.

Due to my past, I wasn’t sure if they would even admit me. But Circle the City surprised me. They gave me a chance, something that most organizations wouldn’t do. Circle the City gave me a place to sleep and allowed me to start my treatments again.

I wanted to be a part of this celebration to tell you something. See, you all come here very often, smiling and visiting with us. It gives patients like me the sense of being wanted. We look forward to when you come, even though you all might not know it. It’s not the real big things you do for us, but the small things that we hold onto. You create a positive environment for us and by doing so, it makes it easier for patients to heal, to cope, and to keep going.

So please keep coming and continue doing the things you do. We thank you and are very grateful for all that you do for us.

Ben died peacefully in December 2015 while receiving hospice care.