While I was in Skid Row I ran into my friend Terrance. He used to be a successful computer engineer making a six figure salary. When his wife left him for another man he went into deep depression which led to drug addiction and then after losing everything he became homeless. He’s been on the streets for the past 10 years now. He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve met out here. He’s super resourceful. I think he could survive anywhere. “If there was a reality show called Survivor Skid Row I think I would do pretty well” he said jokingly as he was taking out the copper wires from an old television. I call him the MacGyver of Skid Row (an 80s reference). We hugged when we saw each other. When we meet it feels like long lost friends reunited. He was hauling a shopping cart full of stuff. He was on his way to the recycle center. He’d been up all night looking through dumpsters. I offered to take him out to eat. We went to the recycle center first to unload. Things can be easily stolen in Skid Row if left unattended. At the recycle center he showed me how everything works. He’s really articulate and good at explaining things. He got some large bins and sorted out the various metals and plastics. He would drink the water from some of the bottles he collected. “Don’t you worry about getting sick?” I asked. He smiled and said “I haven’t gotten sick yet.” Although I noticed throughout the day he had a pretty nasty cough. I saw his hands were worn out and full of cuts from digging through trash. He looked at them and said “they’re no longer the hands of a computer programmer anymore.” After he was done unloading everything, he kept a few recyclables in his backpack in case he needed cash later on. Once everything was weighed he got $19 in cash. He cleaned up the area he was in, sweeping the trash. Most people leave a mess and let the workers clean it up, but Terrance always cleans up after himself. Maybe in a small way keeping his dignity and self-respect. When we were about to go eat, he suggested local places to eat in Skid Row. He was worried about how others would perceive him if we went to a nicer place. I couldn’t think of a place where he could take a shower, so I took him to Target to buy him some new clothes. Then we ended up going to In N Out burger in Hollywood. He really missed eating a double double and a vanilla milk shake. “It tastes even better than the way I remember it” he said as he sank his teeth into his burger. “John, I don’t know how to thank you for what you’ve done for me today. It feels great just to hang out and have a friend to talk to” he said. Then on the way back he fell asleep in my car. I’m sure spending the whole night going through dumpsters caught up with him. So I pulled over to side and let him sleep for a while.
People often message me asking how they can donate to support and be a part of what I do. I've never been one to ask for donations, but it definitely comes in handy.
Each person on Skid Row is unique and has their own unique circumstances, so it's hard to anticipate how to address people's needs before I meet them. So having some extra funds gives me more flexibility as to how I can help others.
If you're one of these people who has it in their heart to contribute in this way, this donate button is just a more convenient way to do so. Thank you for your support!