Darrell

Darrell; Las Vegas, NV

In recent days, it feels as though everything around me is telling me to give up my dream of stopping the negative stigma attached to homelessness. My camera that originally started the Can You Spare A Story journey was stolen out of my car leaving me with no chance to create the quality content I expect of myself. Sometimes in life, you have to face the facts and step up to the plate so I said goodbye to a good chunk of my saving and hello to a brand new camera with high hopes of changing the world.

Today’s story is of Darrell, the ex-marine, and Georgia native that recently had his life turned upside down. Darrell always dreamt of being in the Marine Corps, he wanted to serve his country and be a man his mother would be proud of. When that dream became a reality and Darrell became a marine, he had a rude awakening that this was not the life he wanted. After serving for what seemed like an eternity, Darrell was honorably discharged and sent home. In Early 2016, Darrell and his brother moved out to Las Vegas to have a fresh start in a new city. Darrell and his brother were inseparable, they had done everything in life side-by-side. Six months into their beginning in Las Vegas, Darrell’s brother passed away due to heart failure. Heartbroken doesn’t even come close the express how Darrell felt about the loss of his brother.

Today, Darrell is living in a homeless camp on the west side of Las Vegas. He spends his days begging on the street for anything to help him get by. He mentioned that the hardest part of being homeless is trying to avoid being arrested for trespassing. I asked about shelters in the local area, and he said that they are over-crowded and unsafe. On multiple occasions, he has had things stolen from his bag while eating at the shelter. He has developed a one man wolf-pack identity and works best on his own. Darrell still always has a smile on his face and continues to work towards happiness each and every day. He wants the world to know that he is just a good, honest, hardworking individual. Part of his daily routine is reminding himself of his worth, this is something I think many of us should include in our daily lives.

Darrell is a perfect example of a reason the negative stigma attached to homelessness needs to cut off at the source. The general public is resistant towards a man in need who simply trying to get by. I hope this story reminds you that the dirty faces judged on the streets are human beings just like you and me. I would like to start a new trend, the next time you give money, food, water, etc. to a homeless individual share a photo or a status using the hashtag #canyoustopthestigma to be feature on Can You Spare A Story. By sharing your photos and encounters you will work towards stopping the negative stigma and encourage others to be the change they wish to see in the world.

Thanks For Reading,

Sydney


Jared

Jared; Phoenix, AZ

In life, it is easy to lose track of the big picture. The work piles up, the calls flood in, and the days pass by. Meeting Jared was a reminder of why I need to continue with Can You Spare a Story. Although sometimes the work doesn’t seem to produce the expected outcome, I have one single mission: To provide homeless individuals a voice to share their stories without fear of judgment.

A few years ago, you could find Jared working as a server at the most magical place on earth.. Disney World. He was working hard and falling in love with a woman who was going to bring him out west. He would leave his life, family, and work all in Florida to start a new life out here in Phoenix. Sadly, things did not work out with Jared and his girlfriend and he was forced onto the streets. Today, you can find Jared on Camelback and Central begging to survive. It is crazy to think what can happen in a few years time, I ask you to consider this next time you see someone begging on the street. That person could easily be you.

The pain in Jared’s eyes shook me to the core. He has lost everything, sitting on the streets with a college degree. Jared recently had his ID stolen, he is unable to get a new form of identification without two other forms of identification to prove who he is. This has been major setback in the fact that he cannot get a job without an ID. When I asked if he could reach out to his family, he broke my heart by saying, “they would be disappointed about how I turned out.” The streets are lonely and with no one to trust, Jared is alone in the world. He told me a story of how a man recently yelled out his car window, “get a job, you f***ing bum.” I was taken back on how one human being could be so awful towards another human being in need. When he saw the disgust in my face, he said, “No one plans to be a bum, Sydney.” His words have rung over and over in my head over the course of the last few days. It is no one’s life plan to be on the streets begging for their lives, sometimes life just takes the wrong turn.

Jared has recently found a place that provides him with a place to shave and shower. When I asked about shelters, he said that they are dirty and that he has had things stolen. Jared told me that the hardest parts of survival are begging for food and finding a place to sleep without being robbed. Could you imagine laying your head on cement each night praying you won’t get mugged in your sleep? As you lay your head down tonight, be grateful for the pillow your head rests upon and the locked doors you sleep safely within. It is easy to lose sight of the little things to be grateful for, I hope Jared’s story has affected your perspective. Please be sure to share this story with friends and family, your support allows me to give the homeless population a voice.

Thanks For Reading,

Sydney