In early December I saw a picture of my homeless childhood friend Kelso on Facebook who is currently living in the downtown streets of San Rafael. It prompted me to seek him out and offer him assistance. I’ve tried to be there for him, and along the way I have written the first draft of a book about the experience of helping the homeless.
I know Kelso appreciates my presence even if it’s just to offer him friendship and a connection with the past. At this point he may never want or be able to do what it will take to come indoors, but at least I’ll know I’ve tried. One of the guys who was hanging out in the same park as Kelso and I struck up a friendship, and serendipitously in the short time I’ve known him I was able to help him get indoors. If you’ve been following my blogs online you may have read about Steve (Steve Needs a Job, published 1/17/14 on San Rafael Patch.com).
This wasn’t the first time I’ve helped a homeless person get indoors, or helped someone avoid homelessness. You’d be surprised how easy it can be to offer some assistance to a homeless person, and how gratifying the experience can be. It’s especially easy when you pass the same homeless people every day, which was the case with the first homeless woman I helped in San Francisco. It took more time and effort in Brenda’s case, but I helped her get indoors as well (see San Rafael Patch.com from December 2011 for a three part column on the experience).
Recently I decided I wanted to take my efforts to assist the homeless to another level. Initially I visualized the creation of an online database that people could search for homeless people in Marin and hook up as mentors. Speaking with the project director of San Rafael’s Downtown Streets Team and he helped me realize that the mentorship role should involve a level of commitment that a lot of people aren’t necessarily prepared to make, and I didn’t want to turn anyone off any level of caring and assistance. Posting my experiences with friend Kelso had gotten an enormous amount of attention on Facebook, and I decided the best thing to do would be to launch a Facebook page for the Marin homeless and precariously housed. If you are a Facebook member please check ‘like’ my page: Marin Homeless and Precarious Faces Project.
My plan now is to take pictures of individual homeless people in San Rafael and share information about them. My hope is that either Facebook users who see the homeless people will be prompted to help them, or they will share the posts and somebody else they know will step forward and offer assistance. I’d love to see people doing great things for our homeless community on the page.
My friendship with Brenda started when I gave her a pair of used UGG boots as I was passing her on the way to work. My friendship with Steve started when I bought him a new bike tire, which he desperately needed. Kelso and I go back further than when he drove me to the hospital after a shoulder dislocation while surfing during Thanksgiving break at Ocean Beach.
The next time you pass a homeless person on the streets of Marin please consider doing something nice and sharing the act on the Facebook page.
Care, share and create goodness.
After making my first post on the Marin Homeless and Precarious Faces Project page about Southern Marin native Tory Burke, I was contacted by three old friends, and I put them in touch with Tory to give her the help she desperately needs right now to avoid homelessness.
I’m hoping to help more people in need this year. Please like this blog and share it on Facebook to spread the good word. And I would LOVE to see people set up these type of pages/projects in their own cities! The world is a better place when we care for people in need.