A few weeks ago I wrote about Father Gregory Boyle and his ministry amongst the gang members of Los Angeles. Since reading that book I have thought often about what it means to serve those who live on the margins. Sometimes it’s hard to see those who are truly lonely and in need. Sometimes our lives just get too busy. For me it’s probably the latter.

I wanted to share a personal story that is a source of happiness and meaning in my life. For me it illustrates one example of serving the marginalized. I have a cousin named Joe who has lived a very challenging life. He was born with significant mental and physical handicap that has kept him from establishing his independence and pursuing what most of us see as life goals. He’s not had a stable home life and truly lives on the margins of society. 

After the death of his mom a number of years ago, Joe moved to Utah with his dad. He met my brother Seth, who instantly become Joe’s hero. Joe called him numerous times throughout the day, to the point of near insanity. He opened a Facebook account and friended all of Seth’s friends, and began contacting them through messenger and email. In a stroke of brilliance, Joe found Scott’s phone number in an email signature, and immediately gave him a call. Scott  then passed to Joe the numbers of a couple more friends, Rob and Dan. Within a few days Joe was calling all of them multiple times a day. Over time Trevor and Brady were added and the group of Joemigos was formed.

In its current iteration the Joemigos consists of seven people (listed from Joe’s Favorite to least favorite).

1 – Seth – Hands down number one Joemigo and cousin

2 – Scott – Very, very distant second

3 – Trevor – Steadily marching his way up the rankings

4 – Dan – Was number three but missed the Christmas party

5 – Rob – Unclear why Rob isn’t number one – but is Joe’s second favorite cousin

6 – Nate – Joe talks to me because it’s better than not talking to someone – most days

7 – Brady – Brady would make a quick move into spot five, but he doesn’t talk to Joe on the phone

We talk to Joe once a week for ten minutes, and have done so for years. Joe doesn’t have much to say but he calls every week without fail. If you miss his call, he’ll leave you the exact same voicemail every time. Joe’s lucky to have some amazing friends. We’re lucky to have Joe. There’s meaning in building friendships through service. 

These guys take time out of their schedules to add a little love and kindness to Joe’s life. In addition to our weekly “chats,” we take him out to dinner and throw him a yearly birthday party. We sung Christmas Carols at his doorstep during Covid as he was super bummed to miss the annual Joemigos Christmas party. Some have taken him to the park to feed the ducks. He’s been picked up for church parties and neighborhood events. Trevor took him to church one week and Joe thought that was pretty boring. Occasionally one of the guys will drop by and take him to lunch. Just last week we all went into the nail salon for Christmas pedicures and Joe’s annual foot care (think Dumb and dumber toenails!).

These men, who have no relation to Joe (except for Rob who actually turned out to be our third cousin), have chosen to genuinely care for and love him. I am humbled and inspired by their service. When I think about the time and effort that they put in for my cousin, I’m filled with gratitude. 

I don’t share this story as a means of self-congratulations. I share it to show the goodness that exists in this world. I share it to hopefully put a smile on your face at the thought of seven grown men getting pedicures together. I share it to hopefully inspire you to look close by and find the needy that are around us. At this time of year, many are suffering with feelings of loneliness. I invite you to look around and see if there isn’t someone in your life who could use a hand to lift them up.

Merry Christmas!

  • Emily Simmons
    1 year ago
    Joemigos! I couldn’t love this more! Loved it’
    • Nate
      1 year ago
      Thanks Em!
  • Stuart Matheson
    1 year ago
    This one hit the spot. Great story and great timing!
    • Nate
      1 year ago
      Thanks Stu!
  • Carol Hanson
    1 year ago
    I love this, Nate! And love talking to Joe on the phone whenever Rob happens to be with us on his “Joe” call. He went to a Jazz game with our family a few years ago too. I am a little miffed that Rob is only 5th and you should be way higher than 6th place! ❤️
    • Nate
      1 year ago
      Joe's rankings are very suspect! Rob and I should be 1,2 for sure!!
  • Adam McCormick
    1 year ago
    I love this! Thanks for sharing and I was laughing out loud with rankings!
  • Whitney
    1 year ago
    What a cute way to spread Christmas love and joy. I think it’s fantastic taking someone under your wing… along with 6 other grown men.
    • Nate
      1 year ago
      Merry Christmas Whit!