This experience was sent to us by a Good Samaritan:
Surviving on the streets in Los Angeles County for someone who is homeless is especially difficult. There is stiff competition for handouts and places to stand and sleep. If you’re an old man of short stature with shoes that are falling apart and wearing ragged clothes and you don’t exactly draw a lot of attention.
Steve (alias) works an area in Culver City, California. He is scrawny and soft spoken. In the evenings, he meekly approaches the passersby who stroll between the downtown eateries, shops and theaters with his palm subtly extended. Steve expresses his gratitude to those who hand him a buck or two, with a soft, “Thank you. God bless you.”
My wife and I had handed him a dollar on several occasions. But a few weeks ago, after giving him a dollar, something changed inside me. I turned to my wife and said, “The next time we see that guy I want to talk to him. I’d like to know his story.”
A week passed. We came upon Steve on the sidewalk. He was sitting with a small cart next to him that carried all of his earthly belongings. My wife handed a dollar to him. “Thank you, God bless you.”
“Let me ask you a question,” I implored, “where do you sleep?” He rose to his feet. “I sleep here. There are shelters, but they have drug users and addicts. They’re not safe. So I sleep on the street. God protects me. Sometimes I go to a place where I can sleep for twelve dollars.” When I asked how he came to live on the streets he shared with us that his wife had been deteriorating for ten years with an illness. “When she died . . .” at this point he stopped to fight back tears, “I just gave up.”
We conversed for another minute or two when I noticed his dilapidated shoes that were falling apart. “What size shoes do you wear?” I asked, hoping he would say nine-and-a-half or ten so that I might run home and fetch him a pair of my own. “Eleven,” he responded.
We soon bade each other good night. But I was determined to get this sweet, kind man a decent pair of shoes. The next day I posted a message on a neighborhood internet message board asking if anyone had a slightly worn pair of size elevens or eleven-and-halfs to spare for a needy homeless guy. The following day I received a call from Dr. Ira Diamond from SFTH. How fortuitous that the organization is headquartered right here in Culver City. SFTH provided a beautiful pair of walking shoes for Steve.
We reached out to Steve with his new shoes and a new pair of socks. He was very appreciative and gave us a huge smile. We know that he is now able to walk much better and is also much more comfortable. Thank you to Shoes for the Homeless, Inc. for your help!
It is amazing how a simple pair of shoes can help change someone’s life!
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