Inspiring Story of the Week: MR. HOOTS AND ME by Rodney Stotts
Inspiring Story of the Week
MR. HOOTS AND ME
by Rodney Stotts
his life’s purpose.
Rodney grew up in a gritty neighborhood in southeast Washington D.C. When he was only sixteen years old, his dad was murdered. But no one felt sorry for Rodney. They felt his dad had it coming to him because one of his girlfriend poisoned him after one of his beatings.
Rodney’s mom, even though addicted to crack, was a good mom. She somehow always managed to be there for her four children. No matter what she was going through, she made sure that all her children were taken care of. There were times when she didn’t eat so they had food to eat, clean clothes to wear even if she dressed in rags. But mostly, as Rodney thinks back, it was the values that she instilled in her children: honesty, love, commitment and trust, that probably saved them all from the streets.
When ready to go out on his own, Rodney learned about a small nonprofit called the Earth Conservation Corps and began to work for them, earning a $100. weekly stipend. As they continued to clean trash from Lower Beaverdam Creek, a polluted waterway of the Anacostia River, Ron could see that the river was beginning to recover. Heron, osprey, beaver and other wildlife were returning to this once junk-filled tributary.
The Earth Conservation Corps started a program to educate people on the importance of raptors, birds of prey including hawks, eagles, vultures, kites, ospreys, falcons, and owls. One day a non-releasable owl named Mr. Hoots was introduced into the program. Rodney remembers that day in 1998 as if it were yesterday. He was standing there, this slender black guy from the ghetto, with a Eurasian eagle-owl on his arm, a bird that to him seemed as big as a dog. Ron felt every range of emotion you can possibly imagine: excitement, fear, love, anxiety . . . and then, when he put that owl down, he felt empty. Somehow he sensed that this eagle was about to change his life. And it did.
Is Rodney stronger today? You bet! He is now a man who has turned a once bleak life into a life of purpose, all channeled through an owl named Mr. Hoots.
Read Mr. Hoots and Me, now published in
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