As a compassionate community we can face homelessness by choosing to see the beauty of person in front of us rather than the issue that overwhelms us. We can give empathy a voice, trusting in our own creativity and compassion to find the answer that fits each moment of interaction. Everyone functions better when they feel loved; let’s all begin today by reaching out to “Just Say Hello.”
These are stories of community coming together in compassion.
“Please meet Scott Lee Schultz, he’s 55 years old, has been on and off homeless for years, this time since May. When we met, Scott was sitting on the curb, I asked if I could sit with him for a moment, I had too, he has the sweetest dearest face ever.
He told me a bit of his life, but mostly I was listening to the charm he has about him, his eyes have a twinkle, so much kindness too, ten or so minutes into our talk he pulled out a little harmonica, playing and singing so very beautifully.
I told him how lovely his voice is, he started to cry, then told me not to worry, that he cries really easily, something about tears of sunshine, I asked about the harmonica and he told me he loves to play but that his favorite instrument is the Jaw Harp, that he sadly hasn’t had one for years.”
After this Facebook post, folks from the community immediately purchased two jaw-harps for him.
This is Caesar, the photo above is of his RV being impounded. Caesar had been living for years out of his car and at Gas Works Park. The RV had just been given to him and he was overjoyed, it was another big step forward. He was frantic when he came home to see it hooked up to the tow-truck. Over the last several years Caesar had become good friends with many in the community. One of the most beautiful results of these friendships has been the communities funding of voice-acting classes for him, something that has given him hope for his future. Fortunately, Caesar’s RV was not towed that night. He now lives in his RV at the Ballard Safe Parking site.
Jennifer and Willow
Jennifer and her one-year-old daughter Willow were living in an RV along the north end of Lake Union; they were part of a group of other RV residents living homeless.
“I asked what brought them and their RVs all together and they said, “The police.” They said they had all been harassed, that they felt some safety in coming together and forming a village.”
One of the reason’s the Seattle Police and the Seattle Parks Department get involved is that they get complaints from people living in homes, folks not wanting the RV’s on their block, not wanting the issues of garbage or other issues of basic living.
We as a larger village need to reach out to those who are struggling with basic needs, to provide kindness and service.” [More on Facebook]
“Please meet Anthony, he was born in Kirkland, now 28 years old, at 18 mom&dad said you’re on your own, served 4 years in the Army, saw his best friend and three others blown-up in front of him, it was his friend’s birthday, he deals with it everyday.
Anthony has been homeless pretty much after getting out of the military, has a team of folks trying to help him with head-issues, lost his DSHS food-stamps five months ago, was told he needs to start the process over, says he just can’t do that.
Anthony is a gentle soft-spoken man, one that you immediately like and want to get to know more. He’s in need of new boots, his are falling apart. I asked him if he has a preference, he said best would be desert summer combat boots, size 13. With tax they are around $150.00.” [more on Facebook]
Friends in the community saw that his boots were worn through, and a number of people pitched in to get him new ones.
Shelly is one of the friendliest people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting; I asked him five minutes after we first met, “Does everyone fall in love with you?” To which he answered, “Pretty much!” Shelly is a Real Change vendor and a short time ago he was told by the grocery store where he sells his papers that he could no longer stand there, a patron had complained.
In the thick of things, when Shelly was struggling with the news, friends asked what he loved doing that he hadn’t done in a long time. When he said bowling, the community donated over $1,000 in bowling gift certificates. [more on Facebook]
Jackie and Mason
“Jackie is just 24 yrs old, she has two boys, Mason, who’s getting a KISS planted on his forehead, is almost 4, his younger brother Tyler is 2 1/2.
The three of them live in an RV parked in the Interbay Safe Parking Site, they are one of (25) vehicles waiting to see what will happen on Friday June 10th when they all need to leave.
The City of Seattle has already given a week extension to the original date of June 3rd, given because the promised (15) sites in SODO were not ready; but even if they were, or are, the vehicle residents have clearly stated that they will not move to SODO, they have articulated that the site is NOTsafe and is to far away from many of the needed medical services.” [more on Facebook]
A number of folks from the community organized for a handful of mechanics to come down and help address auto-issues as everyone prepared to leave. Jennifer and her two boys were able to move to the Ballard Safe Parking site.
“Mona’s beloved Jorge died last November 16, she’s grieving still with a veryVERY hurting heart. Friday she came to our office with a bag full of framed pictures of Jorge, needing to share her pain, she can’t let go, she doesn’t know what to do, she barely leaves her YWCA apartment, paralyzed by grief and anxiety.
Mona is a giver and a lover of people, as she shared how her life is falling apart, how veryVERY hurt she was that only two people showed for her husband’s funeral, she began to cry a stream of tears that turned into a panic attack; as Sarah and I put our hands on her and reassured her, comforted her, we were both consumed by the loneliness Mona is living through.” [more on Facebook]
The community around Mona raised the needed funds to catch her up on rent with enough extra to also pay a few months in advance.
Facing Homelessness is building a new awareness about our relationship to homelessness and to each other. Their mission is to remove the negative stereotype against those living on the streets. They believe the conversation about homelessness needs to be both an intellectual one, grounded in knowledge about the complexities, and an emotional one, informed by personal experiences.
Like Facing Homelessness on Facebook for more stories and photos.
Watch KCTS 9’s Emmy award-winning story — by Enrique Cerna and Greg Davis — on Rex Hohlbein and Facing Homelessness.