CHICAGO, IL — “Doing something good in exchange for life. Naniniwala ako talaga na may misyon.”
62-year-old Mary Carmen Madrid Crost has been suffering from a serious medical condition — but in the midst of it all, she believes this happened for a reason.
“I believe in second chances. Ako mismo, merong akong second chance at life… well, I have pancreatic cancer. It’s fourth stage. I was diagnosed in May of 2018. Pancreatic cancer is a very aggressive type of cancer. Until now, sa awa ng Diyos, I am still alive and I am still here.”
Crost, a successful immigration lawyer in the Midwest, saw a viral photo of a homeless Filipino guy playing chess.
Emmanuel Pabustan, who lost his home almost two years ago, would usually hang out by Seafood City Supermarket.
It was there where she saw him in person, and knew she had to help him right away.
“I would like to show to this person that there is a reason to live and follow the right path. This is a commitment to God also that I will do something good for humanity. And dahil Filipino siya, mas lalong tutulungan natin dahil kapwa Filipino tayo.”
For his part, Pabustan said a family dispute and wrong decisions he made in the past — led to his homelessness.
“I need to do my best to survive. I use my luggage as my pillow, kapag malamig, I use my sleeping bag, and go inside the sleeping bag. Ang pangit kapag homeless, wala akong privacy. I only take a shower once a week, sa Presbyterian church, they offer free shower every Tuesday. I cannot sleep good.”
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in 2018, there were about 553,000 people who were considered homeless.
Half of that homeless population came from California, New York, Florida, Texas and Washington.
Pabustan said ever since he lost his job, his home, and his family, he has been hoping someone could help him with three things.
“Stabilize myself, fix my papers, get an apartment, so I can go back to playing chess in tournaments because chess is my first love.”
Crost has pledged to help Pabustan reapply for his green card. She is also connecting him with medical professionals, religious groups and potential employers.
ABS-CBN News has reached out to Pabustan’s family and one of Pabustan’s daughters, Pearl, sent her love.
She said she’s truly sorry she can’t do more for him. And that she can only hope someone out there may be willing to help in a way that she can’t.
“Dad, I’m sorry that I can’t do more. I truly am. I’m sorry for everything that life has put you through and I can only hope that someone out there may be willing to help in a way that I can’t,” Pearl wrote. “Please stay safe and I love you always.”
With homeless people like Pabustan trying to survive Chicago’s dropping temperatures, Crost knows time is of the essence — when it comes to giving help, and that much-needed second shot at life.