He calls himself the Country Gentleman, a sixty-something man dressed in overalls, a bright red shirt, and smile to light up the world.
Six years ago, Curtis Reliford stopped for fuel at a Winslow gas station and was approached by two Native-American boys who asked for change. Instead of shooing them away, Curtis looked at the shoes on the boys’ feet and thought about the truck and trailer of goods he was hauling from his home in Santa Cruz to his home-state of Louisiana. He decided to give them something better than spare change: shoes and jeans, wrapped in compassion. He ended up spending a week with the family on the reservation, an experience that helped him shape his mission.
A Journey of Kindness
So why did he have a trailer full of clothes and shoes? The 2005 Katrina disaster greatly impacted Curtis, and ever since, he’s been doing what he can to give back, taking food, clothing, and building supplies to those in need. Curtis knows what it’s like to be at rock bottom.
His mother was only thirteen when she had Curtis. She went on to have a total of twenty-five kids. Curtis never got a mother’s love and was raised by his aunt in Louisiana. Life was all about survival and he turned to drugs and alcohol. In 1985, he took a bold step to get his life back. He moved to Santa Cruz, California and got clean. Ever since he’s been finding ways to “get stuff in line before I’m dead” and in 2005, found his life’s purpose:
I am a grassroots guy who wants to make a difference by helping others. I deliver donated items to one family at a time.Curtis Reliford
The Peace Train Comes to Winslow
A while back, while out riding my bicycle on First Street, I heard reggae music blasting from a loudspeaker in the direction of Route 66. When I got to the corner I found this crazy looking setup.
At first, I thought the driver must not be in his right mind, but then I struck up a conversation with Curtis and found a truly genuine, caring man who wants to do good in this world. He’s even done a Ted-Talk.
During his time in Winslow–before heading out to the reservation to give out his truckload full of building supplies and clothes–he interacted with tourists on the corner, helping take photos, that smile never leaving his face.
Thank you, Curtis, for what you do and who you are, and for the things you bring to our surrounding community. I walked away that day with a smile nearly as big as yours. Hope to see you again soon!
To read more about Curtis or to donate to his cause, check out his WEBSITE.
Until next time…