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The Blessing of Giving - Marie's story

article by Kat Miller

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Long-time Ecclesia, Marie Scanlan, was sitting in a Sunday service when she felt God nudge her with an opportunity. She was listening to another Ecclesian, Stephen Dominico, share his experience of befriending the group of people who were homeless and hung out across from the church. Stephen mentioned his friend, Michelle*, who needed makeup and clothes for job interviews.

“That stood out to me,” Marie said, who had recently purchased some new makeup from Sephora, a beauty store. “I rarely spend money on ‘good’ makeup for myself, so the timing felt more than coincidental, and I thought, ‘I could buy her some too.’”

After the service, Stephen walked Marie over to Tommy’s Burger, where Michelle usually hung out, and introduced them. They chatted for a bit and Marie offered to get Michelle some makeup.

“I asked if I could take her photo, so that I could post it on Sephora’s forums to help find the right shade of foundation for her,” Marie said. After posting Michelle’s picture on the beauty website, Marie was privately-contacted by Sephora Stands, the social impact strategy department of the company.

“We love what you’re doing,” they said, and invited Marie, Michelle and two of Michelle’s friends to come into the Sephora store at Hollywood and Highland to receive a complete makeover and some gifts.

Michelle invited her sister, Tegan*, and her friend, James*, who was also homeless, to join them. Marie coordinated available dates with the store, finalized the plans, and drove the group over on the day of their appointment. They spent the day getting pampered and chatting with each other. Marie and James hit it off that day and became friends through Facebook so that they could keep in touch.

“A couple months after our makeovers at Sephora, James reached out to me, asking me to help him with his resume.” Marie shared. While she didn’t have a lot of experience helping others write resumes, she worked with him on getting his done.

“A couple of weeks after that, I was having a really hard day. I’d been in a season of feeling like I was just spinning my wheels in LA and wondering what the point of it all was- why am I here?” she said.

That evening, Marie received a message from James.

“I want you to be the first to know that I applied for two jobs with the resume you helped me with,” he wrote, “and I’ve gotten some work! And because I’ve been getting work, I’ve just been approved for housing! I want you to be the first visitor!” 

“I was so excited!” Marie exclaimed. “I felt so blessed that James singled me out as a catalyst that helped change his life for the better, because I don’t see it that way,” Marie explained. “I simply helped write a resume, but he’s the one who went out and looked for jobs.”

“I don’t know much about makeup and I don’t write resumes. These are not my strengths. Yet, by God using me in these small ways, I was reminded that faith without actions is dead.  And that when you do something for no other reason than ‘This is what Jesus would do’ - oh, it smacks you in the face! This is how the kingdom of God works!” Marie exclaimed. “I got a much greater reward out of it than the small effort I put in - I feel more confident in my faith; it’s more alive. I see that the issue [I was having] was thinking about myself constantly. I don’t flourish when focusing on ‘me’. I flourish when I can be Jesus to someone else.”

*names have been changed for privacy