Matthew Brown officially joined the Angels of Assisi team last spring. He was not known to foster, transport, jump on the Michael Vick bandwagon, or as a crazy cat guy. However, while busy getting his degree in Computer Information Systems at Roanoke College, he helped us with IT projects, and over and over again demonstrated a quiet kindness and efficiency.
We hired Matthew not because he has veterinary skills; we are fortunate to have that covered with other staff members, as well as a pretty good, albeit ever changing, handle on the animal issues in our community. We brought Matthew in to round out the other half of the circle- the people side. Angels of Assisi has added services for people needing help with partnerships including hospice, domestic violence assistance, bringing veterinary services to underserved neighborhoods, and elderly care.
I often refer to Matthew as Tyrant, because he is the guy who keeps us on task and on schedule. He knows at the drop of a hat our adoption numbers and our finances. It is not uncommon to get friendly reminder emails from him at midnight or the wee hours of the morning. He is our IT guy, has upgraded our electronic medical record system, and improved the back end of our website.
Tyrant is also the one who says "all right" and "OK" with a smile in his voice to folks asking for help. He does a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes without looking for an ounce of credit, and he has helped build a bridge between the adoption center and the clinic. When he is around, there is a sense of calmness and organization, and he gets the big picture. As long as we don't ask him to parallel park the box truck or develop a poker face, it's all good.
The next 2 weeks will be a little emptier for us, because he is taking his altruistic heart to India for a second round of working in an orphanage (there's that compassion for people trait at work). His adoption center partner, Chelsea, organized a mini toy drive of items that can be packed in his suitcase. I wanted to give him a compass to help guide him home, but restrained, knowing that Matthew will always find his way.
Be safe, our friend. We'll miss you, we won't mess with your computer settings, and we can't wait for you to come back. We also understand that certain, special souls need to go out into the world and do good, and we are proud of you.
You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.
- Frederick Buechner