Patrick Phoenix, AZ

A majority of the individuals I meet within the streets are older than me and trying to get back on track with life. For the first time since starting Can You Spare A Story, I met someone who is exactly the same age as me, struggling to get back to life before it has truly even begun. I connected with Patrick on a multitude of different levels including age, a passion for creativity, and a constant battle for self-love.

Patrick is a 20-year-old young man living on the streets in downtown Phoenix. His creative and accepting personality makes others feel comfortable and appreciated within seconds. Patrick is constantly aiming to build others up, leaving him with no energy to keep himself afloat. His love and compassion for others is apparent upon first glance but his depression and anxiety holds him back from reaching his full potential.

Patrick was born into a military family in Arkansas. His father who served in the army passed when Patrick was only three. Patrick’s father was his ultimate hero, a selfless man dedicated to his country and his family. The loss of Patrick’s father dramatically impacted Patrick as he felt that a piece of himself died with his father. Since childhood, Patrick was obsessed with the idea of joining the Marines and serving just as his hero of a father did. He even participated in ROTC during his high school career to set him up within the military. Sadly, the world had other plans.

Patrick moved to the Phoenix area with a friend looking for a new start in a new town. Their plan was to stay with his friend’s girlfriend but things did not work out as planned. Patrick and his friend were soon separated and Patrick was forced to find his own method of survival. At just 20-years-old, Patrick was forced onto the streets with nowhere to turn. Although his luck had turned sideways, his passion and creativity did not. Patrick found love in drawing and creating anime. He shared with me a few of his favorite sketches and I was completely blown away by the talent he possesses. Patrick hopes to one day find a career drawing, writing, and producing anime. His passion and drive is inspiring as he spoke of his dreams of someday making it off the streets and into the position of his dreams. I hope to be a part of his success as I believe he truly deserves it. If anyone knows someone within the field of anime, please contact me so we can give Patrick another shot at life.

On a daily basis, Patrick and his friends struggle to find food, shelter, and a place to bathe. While this misfortune would hold most of us back, Patrick powers through with jokes and laughs. I met Patrick at our first Phoenix event with The Outsider’s brand, he had tied a string to his only bag and was walking it like a dog to bring others joy. He laughed and giggled with his friends while in line and I knew I needed to hear his story.

Patrick sat with me and an older gentleman named Eugene for 2-hours. We spoke of dreams, downfalls, and the plan to get back on their feet. Patrick is someone who would do anything for anyone and his love for others is contagious. I am so grateful that I received the eye-opening opportunity to truly get to know Patrick on a deeper level. I truly consider him as a friend and someone who I hope to help get back on his feet. Once again, if you know anyone within the art or anime community who would be interested in working with this deserving, young man please let me know.

Patrick, if you are reading this, please know that I believe in you and will do anything in my power to help you reach your full potential. Your love for others in spite of your misfortune is inspiring and I hope you never lose your love.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

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Stacey and Darrell Phoenix, AZ

 

Stacey and Darrell are two brothers with an inseparable bond from traveling through life’s hardships together. The two of them grew up with another brother, who is currently a firefighter, and their mother and father in Montana. From boyhood, Stacey and Darrell were all-American with a love of baseball in their blood. Their father was a dedicated umpire who passed down his love for the sport to all three of his boys. Darrell (pictured on the left) is a die-hard Mariners fan and Stacey (pictured on the right) is a Dodgers fan. Their love of baseball followed them into adulthood and for a while, they followed in their father’s footsteps becoming umpires. Stacey umpired as well as serving the Montana National Guard from 1986 to 1990.

Stacey found his way to Arizona when his son graduated from high school. Stacey’s son lived with his mother, so Stacey came down to celebrate his son’s accomplishments. He expressed how incredibly proud he was, and still is, of his son who is now 23. Stacey stayed in Phoenix to help his son out and also focus on their relationship. He found a job as an umpire and found love with a local woman. Things seemed incredible until a nasty substance called methamphetamine came into play. His girlfriend at the time introduced him to the substance and then shortly after she started to act out in a jealous rage. The environment was no longer safe for Stacey but sadly he was already addicted. His addiction began to take over his life, leading him to lose the job he loved as an umpire and forced to move in with a friend in Phoenix.

Darrell moved to Phoenix in 2013 to be with Stacey once again, the two lived with Stacey’s friend until things became tense within the household. Stacey’s addiction continued to grow and Darrell also followed down the dark path. When things got out of hand, Darrell and Stacey moved out of the house and onto the streets. The two went through treatment side-by-side in hopes of defeating the addiction. This is a challenge many individuals face, addiction can be an ever present monster waiting to eat you alive. The two stayed clean for 5 months before relapsing, but they are currently looking to go back into treatment to finally defeat the addiction. The obstacle with that is the high expense of rehabilitation. Stacey receives assistance from the VA but Darrell’s Medicare does not cover the expense. Since meeting Darrell and Stacey, I have been researching further on how we could make treatment possible for them.

I would like to make it clear that substance abuse does not define who Stacey and Darrell are. They are individuals with a story worth hearing and sharing. They spoke to me and my friend, Jedd, open and honestly for about an hour and truly let us get to know them. Darrell has recently lost one of his two daughters and he is currently trying to make it back home to Montana to be with family and loved ones. Stacey is currently comforting Darrell to the best of his ability in this time of need.

The two live in a tent within an open lot behind a local Dairy Queen, where they feel comfortable and safe. They are allowed to wash up in a gas station bathroom nearby but they struggle to afford hygiene products. On Saturday morning before the Can You Spare A Story event, we were able to drop off shampoo, conditioner, dental product, deodorant, socks, and undergarments. We were able to provide these supplies from the various donations and profits from our new merchandise, so we genuinely thank you all for helping contribute.

Stacey and Darrell are incredible individuals who didn’t sugarcoat their story when sharing it. I believe their honesty is extremely admirable and something that I hope readers respect. They are brothers in blood and in heart and I am grateful I had the chance to get to know them. I think about them on an everyday basis and hope to help them on their road to recovery. If anyone has any information about rehabilitation opportunities for those in need, please reach out to me.

I truly hope you enjoyed Stacey and Darrell’s story and understand that their honesty was extremely noble. As they are fans of baseball, I am fans of them.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

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Amber Las Vegas, NV

My goal in 2018 is to bring out the human in homelessness. I feel so often that we are so focused on asking the question, "how did you get here?" Or, "what's your next move?" that we forget to find out who these individuals actually are. The relationship I created within minutes with Amber inspired me to form more intentional relationships with those I meet. Amber is not defined by her homelessness, she is an ever-growing strong woman focused on survival. In everyday life, I get so caught up in writing stories and finishing homework that I forget the opportunity I have to connect with the homeless population through Can You Spare A Story. Can You Spare A Story isn't what I do.. it is what I am.

I had the absolute pleasure of getting know Amber as she shopped our Winter Priceless Pop-Up Shop. During the Priceless Pop-Up Shop, we had our volunteers offer personal shopping to ensure each individual received exactly what they needed. Amber got partnered up with one of our incredible volunteers, Karen, who flew all the way from California just to be at our event.  The two shopped the day away, finding incredible pieces to make Amber feel the most confident and warm this winter season. When the shopping spree was over, Karen took time to introduce me to Amber so she could share her story

37-year-old Amber came to the Las Vegas Valley in search of a job that just never ended up coming. When the bills began to stack up and life became too expensive to handle, Amber was forced onto the streets and now has been for the past 6 months. As a woman on the streets, life can be extremely dangerous with no one trust and nowhere to go. Amber is extremely grateful to have found safety staying at the Salvation Army. The harsh cold of the Winter months often times makes finding shelter extremely difficult. Amber feels incredibly blessed to have found a temporary home to stay safe overnight.

Through pain and hardship, Amber has found safety in time with the Lord and remains prayerful things will pick up soon. In fact, she mentioned that small events put on by her local church are a major part of her ability to keep on track.  Amber mentioned how incredibly humbling of an experience being homeless has been. She said that "this is not a role for the weak.” Although homelessness is not often a choice, it takes a strong individual to handle the obstacles that come with the lifestyle. Amber showcases her ability to survive on her own flawlessly and she inspires me to be the strong woman I know I can be.

Although many of us have never and will never understand Amber's situation, I hope we all remember that she is not defined by homelessness. She is a human who deserves dignity and respect. Her voice is one that deserves to be heard and I hope she inspires you to want to get know members of the homeless population for who they are not what they have been hit with.

Amber, if you are ever reading this, I hope you know the incredible impact you have had on me. You have shown me the power of truly getting to know others on a deeper level. I cannot thank you enough for attending our event and for spending time getting to know me as well.

Thanks for reading,

Syd

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Denise Las Vegas, NV

In times of doubt, we are often times told to lean on our friends and loved ones. But, sometimes things just don't work out as originally planned. This is what happened to Denise, she came to Las Vegas with a friend seeking a new life of adventure. They had planned to get a place to call home and a stable job to start their new life in the big city. Before Denise was able to settle into her new life, she was left in the dust by the friend she depended on leaving her with unpaid rent and nowhere to go.

Denise has been on the streets ever since this incident occurred in July of 2017. She has been forced to learn the ropes of street life and is still struggling to adapt. Luckily, she has found good friends in her times of trouble who surround her on the streets. Her biggest tip to survival is to surround yourself with those who care for you because if you give up they will always have your back. I completely agree with this statement and know that some of the most beautiful friendships come from pain and suffering.

Denise is currently focusing all her energy on returning home to her friends and loved ones. She has had no form of communication with them since she moved out to Las Vegas and they are unaware that she is even homeless. Denise does everything to remain productive and on top of her goals so she can work towards getting back on her feet. She mentioned that it can be easy to fall into a hole of self-pity while on the streets but the best way to avoid it is to remain productive. Productivity on the streets means being in line on time to receive meals and a place to stay and panhandling to raise money to make it back home. Denise tries to save a majority of the money raised daily to find a method of transportation back home to her family. She mentioned that she has mastered living on under 2 dollars a day and predicts she should be able to afford a bus ticket back home in a month or two.

I met Denise at our Winter Priceless Pop-Up Shop where she got the chance to pick out new winter clothing and blankets. It was 32 degrees outside and it only got colder at night. Denise is strong and focused on remaining safe and warm during the brutal winter. She mentioned that staying warm can be extremely challenging and if you don't get in line sooner enough for shelter, you're stuck. This leaves little time to even think about getting a job due to the fact she is constantly waiting in line to be fed or have a bed for the night. This is a major issue I have heard from a multitude of individuals I interview. The never-ending lines contribute to the vicious cycle that keeps these individuals stuck in homelessness.

I wish nothing but the best for Denise and hope she finds her way back home. Denise is a genuine individual who wants to find her way out. You as a reader and subscriber of Can You Spare A Story have already helped Denise and many other individuals by donating to our mission and purchasing our merchandise. 100% of all the funds go towards serving those we meet. We provided Denise with winter clothing, blankets, and toiletries. Thank you for being apart of the movement. We are so incredibly excited to have you as part of the Can You Spare A Story family.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

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