#UpbeatAuthors: The Face of Perseverance

This is Laurence. He was once an intern at the TV station where I worked. Back then, we called him “L-Train.”

The next time I saw Laurence, he was manning the Breast Cancer Awareness Booth at the local baseball stadium. Passionately.  It seems a very good friend of his died of multiple carcinoma.  Remember the movie The Blues Brothers? The characters claimed they were on a mission from God. Well, that’s Laurence when it comes to breast cancer.

Most recently–for several years–Laurence collects bottles and cans for their five-cent deposit and donates the money to breast cancer research. He’s found a place that will give him six-cents for every can/bottle, one penny more than the state deposit. Laurence knows every penny counts.

Here’s an article from 2015.

And another from 2017, which talks about his connection to the Carol M. Baldwin Cancer Research Fund.

Laurence is serious. But he gets discouraged. I follow him on Facebook. There were incidents several years ago when he had a deal with a car-wash franchise to retrieve the bottles and cans customers tossed in the garbage. Yes, Laurence picks through garbage to retrieve every nickel he can.  Customers complained. Even after the management explained the situation, customers complained.  So Laurence couldn’t “scavenge” there any more.

In August, the Great New York State Fair happens. Laurence gets his signature pink cans into the fairgrounds for people to donate their cans and bottles. But people can’t read or don’t care. They toss dirty diapers and other disgusting bits of garbage into those pink cans. Laurence has to sift through the crap for every five cents. He has a room at the fair to store his daily take. In past years, it’s been broken into, his hard work stolen. This year someone damaged the lock trying to break in.

I took the above photo at a concert in July at the local amphitheater. Laurence and his team of volunteers went around the lawn seating area and retrieved as many bottles and cans as they could. When my husband and I handed Laurence our empty water bottles, he said, “Another six cents for cancer research. We going to beat cancer one bottle and can at a time.”

Sometimes, on Facebook, he lets his frustrations out. He says he’s going to quit. People mock him and are mean to him. They insult him. He gets discouraged. But he never quits.  He is not only the face of, but also the personification of perseverance.