by Cory Pinto
I‘ll be honest…When I was 19 years old my dad committed suicide…That day I was supposed to see him and cancelled on him. I always think back and wonder if my dad would still be alive if I had shown up that night. He was excited about meeting with me that day, but being young and immature I didn’t show up. I was too busy being a knuckle head at the time to even tell him I couldn’t show or give him an explanation for standing him up. In my mind, I figured an apology would be enough.
That night my phone died and in the morning I woke up to a few dozen text messages from different people and started deleting them as they came in. I took a glance at a few of my dad’s text messages that said “help me” and “why are you doing this to me…you don’t love me…” and I thought nothing of it. My dad was an emotional man and often drank so I just thought there goes my dad again with his drunk text messages.
I went on with my morning and got a phone call at about 8:30. It was my mom. She said, “Hey Corey, can you stop by the apartment? I have something I need to tell you.” I told her I was out-of-town and she said “please it’s serious come to the apartment.” I showed up about a half hour later, pulled up in my car and my mom sits down in the passenger seat. She tells me to put the phone down… I smile and laugh as she tells me again to put the phone down. She said, “Corey…your dad died this morning.” I just stared at her with a blank look on my face. She said “Corey I’m so sorry…” I cried for a few seconds and stormed into the house, grabbed my things and pulled off in my car instead of dealing with the pain.
I became angry and hateful towards everyone I knew. It wasn’t until I woke up a few years later, facing possible jail time for all the stupid stuff I had done in my youth… At that moment all I could think about was my dad. How did things get this bad? I wished he was still here. I immediately just felt this pulling or calling to help, to serve, to give back. It wasn’t until a year or two later when someone asked me why I like to help the homeless and I thought about my dad in that very moment…..I told him I think I am subconsciously trying to save my dad….What if I showed up that night? What if I gave him a hug? What if I just listened to him? Would he still be here today?
During the time my father had passed, he and my mother were separated and he decided to stay at the Salvation Army. That is where he was that night. Whenever I drive past there or see a homeless man walking around with a big book bag on, carrying around all of his possessions, I think of my father. I told my friend there has to be another person just like my dad out there, someone who has lost all hope. Maybe just talking to them, listening to their story, giving them a high-five or a hug can change something for them. Maybe the care package can inspire him or make him feel loved in that very moment. Maybe I can save one person’s life…. I can’t bring back my dad, but maybe…maybe a small act on my part can do something drastic in someone’s life, like a visit from me could have that day…
Corey’s experience inspired him to launch Smile You’re Alive, where lives are devoted not only to make people smile, but to help those who are less fortunate. 2015-2016 was a great year where Smile You’re Alive fed almost 8,000 homeless people. They hope to end this year with a bang by not only feeding an additional 5,000 people, but providing winter clothing and accessories as well.