From September 3, 2012

This morning I had every intention of wandering aimlessly around Downtown taking photos of our city in the morning light. It wasn’t meant to be, but apparently something else was. I’m honestly having a hard time putting it into words. This morning touched me in a way that I can’t really explain, but I need to try.

Around 7:30 this morning I walked over near main, where the rail runs. I was going to wait for the light to get ‘right’. As I turned corner I heard someone yelling my name. But it couldn’t have been MY name. I turned around to see a man about 2 blocks away, pointing at me and yelling at me to wait there. This person goes by the name Doc on the streets. He is one of the gentlemen I photographed at the Beacon (Homeless Services) last year. We had not seen each other in close to a year.

Doc was one of the few people I met and talked to while visiting the Beacon last year. He had been on the streets for a while and after a few visits he asked what I was doing, why I had a camera and a little about himself. He was down and out in many ways; and strung out. He had the tell-tale signs of heavy drug use, including track marks up and down his arms. We used to talk about those as well and I told him he needed to get off the stuff if he ever wanted to better himself.

Fast forward to today….

Doc walks up to me, remembering me by name and excitedly tells me he wants to me to come with him to meet his people, his ‘family’. We sat on a retaining wall near the tracks and talked for a long while. He introduced me to many people. Then he showed me his arms (keep in mind, I didn’t ask). He told me that a very short time after I stopped coming by the Beacon that he made the decision that he was going to get clean. And he did. No marks anywhere that you can see. He then told me that, while the homeless services do cater to them, it was my presence and my willingness to just be there and listen and discuss life with him that helped him make the decision that he needed to clean up. He had so much hope in his eyes as he said that he guaranteed he was going to get off these streets. The strangest part of the experience was that people I had never met; his ‘family’ all knew me….knew my name.

I never gave a dollar. Never a morsel of food. All I ever did was visit with him and those like him and acknowledge that he was there, and he, and his ‘family’ are calling me family.

And look at what he is doing for himself, now.

I won’t go into the stories they told of others I met last year. A couple gone by suicide, one gone from a heart attack, one an overdose, and a young lady murdered during a rape. Those are hard. Those I can’t quite wrap my mind around yet…..

What if…..what if we all spent a little more time caring, a little more time acknowledging those around us, a little more time offering a smile and a kind ‘hello.’ What if we stopped ignoring our social issues and actually became ‘social’.

You probably had to be there; but this little moment in time gives me hope. I just hope that I relayed a tiny bit to anyone who is reading this as well.