11/28/2012 - Alex & Chad
It seems that during the work week things are different on the city streets. A lot of people are more than willing to talk but have no interest in having their photo taken. It has been a challenge in the last few days to find anyone that would say yes to the camera. That is fine though. I’m not pushing, and learning so much with every new person I meet.
Today was a day just like that. After visiting with around a dozen people throughout the city I was packing up and ready to come home. On the way out, I drove by a farmer’s market right near city hall and thought I would stop and give it a look. The park area there is a known sitting area for many of the homeless community at any given time. Today only a few sat on the outskirts. As hundreds of people came and went from the market, ordering food at any of the multiple tents, they walked past these people without a look. I watched this for about a half hour before approaching the 2 gentlemen in the photo above.
Meet Chad & Alex
These two young men have very similar stories. They both sat at a picnic table only a few feet away from a booth that was preparing crepes. There was a large line of people ordering food and enjoying the beautiful day outside. These two, just watching the crowds. I walked over asked them if they had lunch today which was answered by only a faint shake of the head. I asked them to walk with me for a moment to a food truck across the park. One request of the truck operator (It’s a Wrap) and she offered a wrap of choice to each of the young men at no cost. Much gratitude the her and her team. We walked back across and I got the guys a drink and sat with them for a while and talked.
Alex (left photo), is here from LA. He came to Houston about 7 months ago with the promise of a job that was better than what he had back home. The company he would have been working for was to have been a construction contractor on the Pleasure Pier in Galveston. The problem is, one week after his arrival, the company lost their bid and he lost his job. He spent all he had to get to Galveston and was not going to even get a paycheck from the company. The company housing ran out one week later and there he sat; alone and broke in Galveston. The Salvation Army helped him get back to Houston but that was as far as they could go so he has been on the streets for about 6 months now in Houston. He’s new to the city, knows no one, has nothing and on the streets. He has been through a couple of the service centers which haven’t worked for him. He has resorted to holding a sign under over passes at times but says it hurts too much for the 20 dollars that you make by the end of the day. One thing about this young man is that he has hope; you can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. All he really wants is to get enough money at one time to get back to LA or even to Las Vegas, maybe 200-300 dollars for the bus ride. Not too much for most of us, but for him it is a huge amount to save from the nickels and dimes he may scrape together and have to spend on food as well.
Chad….A very similar story to Alex. He was the one I first noticed sitting at the table. A huge crowd of happy people all around and this one person sitting with a blank stare on his face. You could tell just by looking at him that he was broken. His spirit shattered. Chad was soft spoken and gave mostly one to two word answers or a nod of the head. His eyes did light up for one moment when he had a hot jerk chicken wrap handed to him which was nice to see. Chad, similar to Alex, was promised a job. He moved here from Washington state; partially for the work and partially to get away from what he describes as a very dysfunctional family. He says that when he left Washington he had a job waiting for him and once he got here it was no longer available. He too works in construction and says that though he tried and applied, he couldn’t find anyone to hire him. Like Alex, he knows no one here and this is a new city to him. Once the little money ran out that he did have; the hotel rooms were closed, the phone turned off and now one year later he sits at this table a broken young man.
I didn’t ask either of their ages but I know they are younger than me. I am sure there is much more to their stories but what I heard was plenty. These are two young men in a city that they don’t even know. They have no friends. They have no family. They are on the streets.
I could not begin to imagine this. I just wish that I was in a position to give these two a chance and put them to work. They seem willing and are definitely able. All I can do is say a prayer that something more will come of all of this that I am doing.
So many people that so few even see.