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Two troubled souls find comfort and purpose in an unlikely friendship

Ginger Sprouse and Victor Hubbard

Ginger Sprouse and Victor Hubbard on the front porch of the new location for Sprouse’s business, Art of the Meal, 617 Broadway in Marble Falls. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman

Ginger Sprouse and Victor Hubbard’s friendship is so extraordinary that, two years into it, they were interviewed on the “Today Show” by Hoda Kotb and Meredith Vieira. They are also the subject of a book by Sprouse, “Kinda Like Grace: A Homeless Man, a Broken Woman, and the Decision that Made Them Family,” published in June 2019 by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing company. 

Sprouse, 52, lives in Spicewood with her husband, Dean, and is the owner of Art of the Meal in Marble Falls. Hubbard, 39, lives in Granite Shoals and works for Hill Country Recycling in Marble Falls. 

They met seven years ago on a busy street corner in Clear Lake near Houston.

“It was a lot like the intersection of 281 and 1431 (in Marble Falls),” Sprouse said. “It was that busy.” 

Sprouse passed the corner four times a day and noticed Hubbard was always there. He stayed on that corner so his mother could find him, “when she came back,” he said. 

“Sometimes, she would leave for a while, and I would have to look for her,” he said. “I would go to the corner so she could find me. She always came back.” 

He was into a three-year wait the dayGinger stopped to talk to him. She was following a directive from God, she said, but was still nervous about the encounter. Hubbard quickly allayed her fears.

“He walks right up and puts his hand out like we are at a dinner party and says, ‘Hi, I’m Victor,’” Sprouse said of that day in 2017. “I was like, ‘So, do you need anything?’ He said no. He always says no. He never asks for anything.”

The two struck up a friendship, and Sprouse stopped by almost daily with a cup of coffee, a burger, or a shake, taking time to sit and talk. She was going through her own life crisis, and the two bonded over their issues and their faith in God.

“I just give her credit for coming over there and reaching out to me,” Hubbard said. “People do that, but it’s unexpected. You have to react in a positive manner, and that’s what I did. Ever since then, we’ve been friends.”

When Sprouse first approached him, Hubbard had no place to live but refused to be labeled homeless.

“I wasn’t necessarily on the street,” he said. “I wouldn’t call me homeless. Everywhere I go, I hold my head up high. I stand on the corner, but I had friends there who would have let me stay if I needed.” 

“Can you tell he’s Mr. Positivity?” Sprouse said during this interview. “He never says a bad thing.”

After about six months of meeting on the corner, Sprouse and her husband took Victor into their home and their lives. When the couple moved to Spicewood, they asked Victor to join them. And he did, living for a while in a cottage on their property. He worked at Burger King for several years and eventually found a place to live on his own.

“I got my first house here,” Hubbard said of the move to the Highland Lakes. “That was a memorable experience. It touched on how I was being responsible and what I can do for myself. I really appreciated that I could be on top of everything.”

The three have been in the Highland Lakes for five years now and see each other almost every day.

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s family,” Sprouse said. “We always joke that I’m his secretary, his manager, his assistant, his driver.” 

“She does it better than anyone else,” Hubbard said with a mischievous grin. “That’s why I give her those titles.” 

Hubbard grew up in East Texas and graduated from Lufkin High School in 2002.

“The thing that’s stunning about Victor is that he probably has one of the most incredible memories than anybody for spelling, math, vocabulary,” Sprouse said. “To hear him read aloud, it’s off the charts.” 

After high school, he lived with his mother and sister in Webster, also in the Houston area, for about eight years while working two jobs. The last time he lived with his mother was in an apartment complex near the Clear Lake intersection where he kept vigil. She moved without telling him where she was going, he said. 

“It taught me to look out for myself more, to appreciate my environment,” he said of that time on the streets. 

He eventually reconnected with his mother, and they have a good relationship. She lives in Austin with another of her sons.

Hubbard lives with mental health issues, Sprouse said, but never lets it get him down. Every question posed to him is answered with more than a glass-half-full attitude. With Hubbard, the glass is always overflowing. 

“My long-term goals are to stay motivated, stay focused on what I’m doing, stick with it,” he said. “I will not give up on myself. I always stay meek and humble, and I’m ready for anything that I think I can conquer if I believe in myself.”

Hubbard is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Christianity is being kind,” he said. “Everywhere you go, you got to spread that energy and appreciate people for who they are.” 

Sprouse, who attendsDelta Church in Marble Falls, said she knows in her heart that “the Lord wanted us to meet,” calling their friendship one of the blessings in her life. 

“I was convicted as a Christian of the need to reach out to other human beings, not just walk by or roll up my window,” she said. “One of the things I want people to take away from this is that it doesn’t always turn out like this when you reach out to someone who doesn’t have the same advantages you do, but that shouldn’t stop you from reaching. I always think about what I would have missed if I had not known Victor.”

suzanne@thepicayune.com