Writing about the homeless and helping the homeless, has given my life a purpose that it didn’t have before. Documenting their stories will, I hope, introduce them to the public in a non-threatening way. Some panhandlers look intimidating, but that disappears when one sees them laugh.
A typical day for me involves taking the bus and walking two blocks to work. I pass Joy’s spot every day. I usually sit and talk with her for twenty to thirty minutes. Chester and Hippo may drop by to chat.
Most afternoons, depending on weather, I walk two blocks to the park where the group of panhandlers varies in size from two to twenty or more. They don’t panhandle at the park. Like a soap opera, every day is different; some scenarios will carry over a few days or weeks. People will disappear for weeks or months due illness, rehab programs or incarceration.
When I met Joy I was going through an emotional crisis. Meeting her and her friends – worrying about them and whether or not they would be able to eat and find a place to sleep – took my mind off my problems, that then, seemed insignificant. It was - is - truly a life changing experience.