Homeless people are not always the victims that the media have portrayed them to be. The alarming fact is that many of the homeless are their by choice. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to portray all homeless people as lazy people who dont want to take care of themselves.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. In my experience with the homeless they are usually either in bad health, addicted to drugs, mentally ill or a combination of any of these. To compound matters worse, they are usually without any type of legitimate income to support themselves. One day last winter, I was leaving work and I was approached by a street-person. Living in the city most of my life, I had grown accustomed to this type of solicitation.
This particular gentleman gave me a well rehearsed monologue about how his car had broken down and he was just trying to get enough money up to catch a bus home. Needless to say, I have heard this particular story in every city I had ever been to, by other street people in cities far bigger than Dayton, Ohio. I like to always give people the benifit of the doubt, but this story was a little overused. I told him I would take him up to the Greyhound station and pay for his ticket if he wanted to get home. He refused my offer, telling me that there was other business that he would have to take care of first. I had called his bluff and he knew it.
I then asked him what he was doing out on the streets at 4:30 in the morning. He told me that he was “making a living”. After chatting with him for about twenty minutes, I was able to get him to reveal a few very important details about himself. He had been on the streets for about the past 6 years. He had been in and out of jail, only to be released and put back out on the streets again.
He was living in a garage for the past two weeks. He recently lost a part-time job washing dishes. He did take advantage of some of the social services offered by local churches and government agencies. Unfortunately, he was not willing to commit fully to doing what the local shelters and the programs required. Last but not least, he revealed his name to me. This man’s name was Adrian.
If you have spoken to a homeless person you will find that many have actually had a home at one time or another. They usually wind up on the streets after losing their job or burning bridges with family members. Adrian was no exception to the rule. I asked Adrian if there was anything that I could do to either re-unite him with family or possibly help him find work.
He showed a lot of interest in obtaining some type of employment. With a little networking, we were able to land Adrian a job washing dishes at a local restaruant. I even purchased a pair of water proof boots to get him started. This was obviousily not the first time that Adrian had help in finding employment. After speaking to the manager of Adrian’s previous employer, I found that Adrian had been given many chances to keep his employment, but he was unwilling to show up on time and sometimes he wouldn’t show up at all.
Obviousily, a job as a dishwasher was not going to end Adrian’s financial woes, but it was definately a foundation for any potential success. About week after Adrian’s first day on the job, he gave me a call. I was told that things were going great and that he just needed some money for a uniform. Since he did not have his first check yet, I told him that I would be able to give him the money he needed.
I told him to meet me at my place of employment after he got off work. Hours turned into days and days into weeks. Exactly two weeks passed by and there was Adrain, standing in the middle of the parking lot, .