For various reasons about thirteen years ago I was homeless and for a time wandered around the streets sleeping where I could.
For six months I slept on a sofa at a church. For another six months I slept on an abandoned mini school bus where I almost froze.
Still, for another three months I slept at a homeless shelter here in Jacksonville.
In some ways, some people were very good to me. The homeless by far were the best. No, they won’t let someone go hungry. Not them.
And for others; well, they didn’t understand and thus some kept their distance. Even others couldn’t understand how their former teacher could end up homeless.
The point is this: in being homeless some treated me as if I had the plague. When I did day work they assumed I would steal them blind or that I was on drugs or alcohol.
And while most of my street friends did drink, they never caused any problems. Some with severe mental issues were always a handful and at times, dangerous, especially around weapons of any kind.
A good friend of mine and his wife knew me then and knows me now. His wife so tactfully said: “Come to church.” I told her I was homeless. She said, “Well you won’t always be and you still can always come to church.”
She was right. But her, George and Cathy Barnwell are exceptional friends and thus we have been close for over 40 years because of church.
Truthfully speaking, the only real difference between me today is that I take care of more people and have a place to live. That is the only separation I had when I was homeless.
Yet, the treatment I received then as opposed to now is like night and day. The only real difference is how people treated me than now.