By Lee Cowan
(CBS News) For most parents, when a child leaves the nest it’s usually for good. But at age 51, Tony Tolbert has come home again. And it’s for all the right reasons — or so says his mom.
“He is so giving, and he’s always been that way,” said Marie Tolbert.
Tony grew up in a home that always seemed to have a spare bed — thanks to his father – Jimmy Tolbert.
An entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles, Tolbert’s dad extended a hand to almost anyone down on their luck. In fact, Tolbert can’t remember a time there wasn’t someone extra living in their house — and that gave the Harvard-educated attorney an idea.
He decided to take his dad’s generosity one step further.
He announced he was moving back home, because he was giving up his own fully furnished L.A. home, rent free, for a full year — to a family he’d never even met.
“You don’t have to be Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or Oprah,” Tolbert said. “We can do it wherever we are, with whatever we have, and for me, I have a home that I can make available.”
But to whom? Tolbert sought out a shelter for homeless women and children called Alexandria House. It was there he found Felicia Dukes.
Needless to say, she couldn’t believe the offer when she heard it.
“They had a young man that wanted to donate their house to you for a year,” Dukes recounted. “And I’m looking at her, like, what? Like — Are you serious?”
Dukes had been sharing a single room at the shelter with three of her children. But it was for kids only and her older son couldn’t join them. So not only was the family homeless and broke, but separated.
Until the boxes arrived at Duke’s new home — Tolbert’s old one. And shortly after the boxes, her son showed up too.
“My heart just fills up and stuff, um….I’m just really happy,” Dukes said tearfully.
And those weren’t the only tears of joy.
Tolbert also became emotional when he talked about the life lessons he learned from his father, who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Kindness creates kindness. Generosity creates generosity. Love creates love,” he said. “And I think if we can share some of that and have more stories about people doing nice things for other people, and fewer stories about people doing horrible things to other people, that’s a better world.”
Not a bad thought to begin the new year.
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