I first saw Leonard from a distance while running an errand. It was a cold night and immediately my heart broke. I ran home to get a blanket and my camera. The only blanket I had was a nice expensive blanket and I argued with myself for about 10 minutes over taking it to him. At one point I started to look for hoodies as a replacement. Funny how most of us make sacrifices to help others only when it is convenient! The winning thought was “he is in a doorway for the night, I am in an apartment, wake up and get real – I can buy a new blanket”. While I was walking back to Leonard’s “home for the night” I passed an In-N-Out Burger. Several BMW’s were in the drive-thru line and all of them could see Leonard, yet it seemed I was the only one that noticed. Leonard would not take my blanket. It was bulky and hard for him to carry around. When giving “stuff” to the homeless please remember they don’t have storage and everything needs to be easy to carry.
Something very interesting happened before I started to record. Something that helped me learn a little more about myself and the homeless. Leonard wanted to record my story first. That shocked me because I wasn’t expecting it, and even though the camera I use is low-end, I didn’t feel comfortable handing it over to him. I paused for a second and put myself in his position. He is a real person, just like me. One thing as humans we all need to build healthy self-esteem is trust and respect. When I was on the streets no one trusted me so I took a chance and trusted Leonard. I wish there was a second camera to record him recording me. We both laughed, it was fun, and it was a gorgeous experience.
I am sorry for the delay is posting Leonard’s story. I had to wrestle with myself if I was even going to put it up. It’s an amazing story, but it brought up feelings that I want to ignore – which is the whole point of this site. If it has an effect on you, too – please help keep the conversation going.