The best things in life are free . . .

Dennis

There's more to life than money. Just ask Dennis Mahurin . . .

Dennis has never had a lot. So much so that, for the 59-year-old, home is a tent. Hard as it is to believe, the amiable Illinoisan has been homeless since 1978. Living rough for three-and-a-half decades, Dennis has learnt about the most precious things in life. Money, it might come as a surprise to hear, isn't something that he values.

Friendship, kindness, compassion and companionship, such things are the only currency that counts on the street. For those unfortunate enough to find themselves in that boat, kinship and connection are all important.

Looking in from the outside, we see nothing but the problems. For those living it, despite all the hardships, the trouble and the threat, there is community. Their struggle a common cause, it's possible that the homeless understand each other better than the homed. Dennis' example suggests that there's much for us all to learn from a people existing on society's margins.

You see, on March 28th, having bought a $3 Lotto ticket from a gas station close to the woods in which he had been camping in Bloomington, Dennis realized that he'd won the $50,000 jackpot. This is a man, don't forget, who has been homeless for the last 35 years.

It is a prize large enough to change his life, but Dennis has no interest in the material. For him, friendship, kindness, compassion and companionship matter more. Because there is more to life than money . . .

So, after treating himself to a new tent (his current one has seen better days) and investing in some much-needed dental work, Dennis is planning to give the rest away. To those in a similar situation, to those in his community, to those in need.

'I'm paying it forward,' explains a remarkable man. 'The guys camped out back there, I'm going to give them each 100 dollars. I've always said that there's a plan for me, I just didn't know [what it was]. But now, the door is starting to open'.

Imagine, for a second, winning $50,000. Think about how you'd spend it. You could indulge in all those luxuries you've ever dreamed of, you could blow the lot on extravagance and excess. Most of us would. But Dennis is different.

This is a man who has few possessions, a man without a roof over his head, a man used to being cold beneath the canvas, a man marginalized and looked down upon. Dennis could have escaped it all and no-one could have blamed him. But Dennis knows that there is more to life than money, and that certain things are more precious. In sharing his fortune, in aiding others and in demonstrating that, despite the emphasis we put on material wealth, there is nothing more valuable than humanity, Dennis has set an example to us all. Here at OM®, we'd like to commend him for his selflessness.

The homeless undergo great hardships and suffer much, but the community, the kindness and the compassion that exists on the streets is something that, here in the world of the homed, we could all use. Dennis - and those around him - understand each other, tolerate each other, and value each other. Events in Boston have proved that this is a claim that we cannot all make and, whilst we we're not envious of the physical conditions in which he lives his life, we wish more of us could share Dennis' spirit and feel as connected to those around us as he does.

Here's to him . . .

Dennis Mahurin, homeless, Bloomington, Illinois, connected, we are all connected, OM by Miquette, Saunderstown, Rhode Island, Miquette Bishop

We are all connected.