‘Same Kind of Different As Me’ Author to Speak at Guiding Light Banquet

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Ron Hall 235 Hall’s feature film will be released early next year.There was a time when Ron Hall would have been an unlikely guest speaker for Guiding Light Mission's Oct. 5 annual banquet.

Equally improbable was him becoming an advocate for the homeless and a New York Times best-selling author, as well as a new feature film to be released early next year.

High finance, owning his own art gallery and working as an international art dealer who bought and sold museum quality masterpieces in major countries were Hall's career priorities years ago.

Not people without a fixed address.

Wife Debbie was catalyst for change

Hall likely would have been satisfied with simply writing checks to missions for the homeless had it not been for his late wife Deborah "Debbie" Hall.

It was Debbie who urged her husband to serve food at a homeless shelter. Hall agreed with his wife's request and the couple eventually met Denver Moore, a former sharecropper on a cotton plantation in Red River Parish, Louisiana who lived through years of hardship and homelessness.

The Halls met Moore in 1998 when he was a bitter man who was threatening to kill everyone in sight at the homeless shelter where Ron and Debbie had started volunteering two weeks earlier. Debbie soon came to believe there was more to Moore that meets the eye and that her husband, Ron, needed to befriend him.

Friendship birthed best-selling book, now movie

That friendship birthed the book Hall co-wrote titled, "Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together" which is intended to inspire people to take off their racial, social, and economic blinders and find common ground.

Since the book's 2006 publication, Hall and Moore's reputation precedes them.

On the National Day of Philanthropy in 2006, Union Gospel Mission named Hall and Moore Philanthropists of the Year and in 2011 the Krist Samaritan Center honored them both as Good Samaritans.

In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Hall to the State Department Cultural Property Committee to advise the president on diplomatic matters regarding international art and antiquities. Hall served through December 2011.

And now, Paramount Pictures announced in 2014 a film adaptation of the book with the same name.

The film is slated for February 2017 release in 3,000 theaters.

The cast consists of Renée Zellweger (Deborah Hall), Djimon Hounsou (Denver Moore), Olivia Holt (Ron's daughter), Jon Voight (Ron's father) and Greg Kinnear (Ron Hall).

"We were blessed by actors who resonated with the story," Hall told West Michigan Christian News. "We could not pay them what they normally would get for their incredible talent. Hopefully, they want to make a difference in our country.

Movie's impact

Making a difference for the homeless is what Hall hopes the film accomplishes.

"I hope that every theater showing our film will have volunteers from local missions (stand) in the lobby to hand out brochures or take donations because they've been impacted by the movie," said Hall. "I want to capitalize on the moment they walk out of film and act on kindness that would forever change at least one person."

Debbie, who died 16 years ago of colon cancer, would have been proud of her husband.

Hall and Denver Moore formed a deep bond of friendship, as well. Moore died four years ago.

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"He was closer than a brother to me," Hall said of Moore. "Denver eventually moved in with me and lived with me the next 10 years. I decided our life's work should be in telling our story and making a difference with the homeless."

These days, Hall travels the country as a motivational speaker and helps match homeless missions with potential funders.

"I get so many calls from missions around America," said Hall. "I try to match missions with their needs and find someone who can provide for them."

Hall has launched a charitable foundation that will help streets missions with their financial shortfalls. More information is available here: http://samekindofdifferentasmefoundation.org/

"I want to get them to the next level and help people get out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness because they just need a little blessing," he said.

Hall lives in Dallas with his wife, Beth.

What: The Guiding Light 2016 Annual Banquet
Where: Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, 1000 East Beltline NE
When: Oct. 5, 6-9 p.m.
Register: https://lifeonthestreet.org/

Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
Author: Paul R. KopenkoskeyWebsite:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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