by Pedro Del Norte
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen I became homeless, I didn’t feel it or look like it, but I was. As I surrendered to being homeless, I needed to re-evaluate what my life had become. The old ways were no longer so important to me.
I began to accept new views of myself and life and to operate in unfamiliar territory. I live more in the present to find opportunities and my future.
For this photography project, I woke up at 5 a.m. to walk the streets. I saw people sleeping at bus stops, under freeways, at social services, all around St. Vinny’s, behind the police station, underneath the BART overpass, and at the threshold of churches.
By 6 a.m., the people had left their spots to begin their daily routine. Homeless people live a semi-nomadic life, and go until they are beat.
Many people fall through the cracks and become homeless. Many have felt disempowered, isolated, and out-of-sync with other people and society.
And many homeless people are ingenious, intelligent, and resourceful. They establish comfortable ways to live outdoors. Some people find a dry spot, a quiet place, and create accommodations. They arrange their valuables, bedding, and stuff to make a niche with a certain amount of comfort and safety.
Having a spot gives a person a sense of “home.” People become territorial and protective of their spot.
Mattresses are important creature comforts. A person can stretch out and feel rested on a mattress. Sleeping on a mattress is much better than sleeping in a car or on a bench.
Homeless people’s lives have been derailed. A homeless person is in survival mode and focused on what’s needed to make it through each day. When homeless, it is not easy to find gainful employment. Even with skills, it can be difficult to become re-established.
Homeless people need assistance to get back on track. People often need access to a wide range of support to make a life change. At St. Mary’s Center I enjoyed connecting and engaging with other people. I felt a sense of belonging as we shared experiences and collaborated in overcoming adversity.
Now when I see someone who is homeless or emotionally challenged, I like to consider how to share a kind word and offer comfort.
I am in the process of creating a fulfilling life and I like to contribute to the common good. I hope that we all can come together to make the world a healthier place. I do see this evolving, little by little.