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Fountain Lake man receives bicycle from anonymous donor

by Lindsey Wells | March 9, 2018 at 4:00 a.m.
Submitted photo DONATION: Jonathan Smith, of Fountain Lake, received an anonymous donation at Ouachita Behavioral Health & Wellness on Tuesday of a bicycle "with all the fixings," including saddlebags to carry his belongings, basket, bike lock, helmet, flashlight and water bottle. Smith has walked to his bi-weekly appointments at the clinic from his home in Fountain Lake for the past three years.

A Fountain Lake man received an anonymous life-changing donation on Tuesday at Ouachita Behavioral Health & Wellness.

For three years, Jonathan Smith has received mental health treatments at the facility. With no mode of transportation available to him other than his own two feet, Smith has walked the 17 miles from his home in Fountain Lake to his bi-weekly doctor's appointments at the clinic.

"When he was in the day program here and had to be here at 8 a.m., he would leave home at 4 a.m. and walk on the side of the road with his flashlight so that he could get here," Christina Planje, the clinic's director of outpatient services, said.

"We wish that all people struggling with mental health issues had his determination to seek the help that they need," Renee Bartholomae, of the clinic's marketing department, said in a news release.

Upon hearing Smith's story, Bartholomae said the clinic employees were so overcome by his dedication to healing that they knew they had to do something to help him.

An anonymous donor gifted Smith with a brand-new bicycle, saddlebags to carry his belongings, basket, bike lock, helmet, flashlight and water bottle.

"His face just absolutely lit up, his smile -- he was speechless," Planje said.

The following statement from Smith was included in the news release sent to The Sentinel-Record by Ouachita Behavioral Health & Wellness:

"I have never had a new bike like this. I cannot believe it; everything I own has been stolen all my life. This is going to make my life so much easier. I cannot believe that you all thought I was worthy enough to get me something so special. I love coming here to unload all that is on my chest and to help me stop all the racing thoughts. When I used to work I would talk to myself all the time and people did not like that. But, here, you all let me do what I need to and just accept me as I am so that I feel like I have a place to go and belong. The visits here are the highlight of my days and I am always in a good mood on the days that I get to come here. Thank you for all that you have done for me."

On Thursday, Smith attended his first doctor's appointment since receiving his new bicycle.

"He said it took at least a good hour to ride here. He's very thin, so, he said, 'I couldn't make it up all the hills, but I'll get stronger,'" said Planje. "He got himself a little reflective vest and he said, 'I rode it along the highway. It sure beat walking!'"

Planje said Smith was recently hired by Labor Finders to work part-time in janitorial services at the Hot Springs Convention Center. He was also approved for Medicaid and will be able to return to the clinic's day program.

"He just said that he'd never felt that he was worthy of anything like this. This guy was horrifically abused as a child, so from childhood he's had trauma," Planje said. "He loves to work, he wants to work, he's not all about handouts, so this has empowered him. He can now get to his job, he can reintegrate into life."

Local on 03/09/2018

Print Headline: Fountain Lake man receives bicycle from anonymous donor

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