Brian Tempe, AZ

I awoke this morning, expecting today to be like any other day. Snoozing my alarm for another five to ten minutes of sweet, serene slumber until the dog whined to relieve himself. Little did I know, I would meet someone on my morning stroll who would change my life forever. A young man approached me from across the street dodging traffic to say good morning. At first, I felt startled, strangled by the same stigma I try to break. He asked me, “why do you fear me?” In a moment of weakness, I admitted that the constant chatter of society has taught me to fear males who approach you.  

After chatting for a few minutes, Brian introduced himself, explaining that he was doing an experiment where he speaks to individuals on the street to help cope with his social anxiety. At first, I had no idea he was struggling with homelessness until he complimented my Can You Spare A Story sweatshirt. This led to talking about what I do, and his eyes lit up like the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center as he smirked and said, “ I was destined to meet you. I’m trying to turn my life around”.  

I was taken off guard, standing in my slippers and pajamas half-asleep outside of our apartment building. I asked Brian if he would be interested in sharing his story and if he could wait one second while I grabbed some supplies. He answered joyfully with a smile, “absolutely."  In nothing flat, I bolted to my apartment, grabbing a Love is The Answer Tee (special thanks to Vanessa Wiley for shopping to serve so we could give this back), one of my hydro flasks, and Cheez-its. As I sat down to interview, Brian thanked me for taking the time to talk to him as many people avoid homeless individuals at all costs.

Brian went on to tell me a little more about how he got to where he is today. Sitting on a bench on Mill Avenue, talking to a crazy dog lady in her pajamas (aka me). Brian grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, living with a single mom and four siblings, where abuse was normal. Although he knew the love was there, the abuse from his mother deeply impacted the way in which he interacts with women. He mentioned the anxiety he feels speaking with women. His heart beats out of his chest and he ends up feeling like he doesn’t fit in. Brian went to school in the Phoenix area K-12 trying to fit in with others. He spent his younger days chasing after the life he saw on TV, motivated by masking his reality at home. In his senior year of high school, Brian became friends with a young man named Nathan, who saw his home life and wanted to offer a home away from home. Nathan introduced Brian to the Church of Latter-Day Saints and Brian felt the love from a community like he had never felt before. Two years later, 20-year-old Brian got caught up in the wrong crowd and ended up hitting rock bottom. He lived with his mother for a while until things got hard and he chose to be on the streets.

Brian has always found comfort in music, creating melodies in his head that could sing you to sleep. For the past few months, he has been drumming on buckets on Mill Avenue to make enough to live. The sound of the drums synchronizes with his heartbeat and for a moment he feels alive. The streets have been rough for Brian. He mentioned having his stuff constantly stolen and being treated like a second-class citizen by others. He expressed his frustration stating, “I don’t want to be judged anymore or given dirty looks of disgust." Brian is craving a community; a group of people celebrating each other’s existence with smiles and casual conversations. He asked for my help in getting his life back and starting fresh. His goals are to get a job working for Chick-fil-A, establish roots by getting shelter for himself, and to join a toastmaster club to learn to speak publicly. He truly hates the way people fear him because of his situation.

Brian craves change in his life and seeks more stability and acceptance from his peers. CYSS family, we have an obligation to help our friend in need back to his feet. Brian is currently working on preparing a resume and gathering an application from the Chick-Fil-A on University in Tempe, AZ. We have gathered a blessing bag filled with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and dental care, but we need help with professional wear for him. If anyone in the Phoenix area has men's professional clothing it would be greatly appreciated.

We are in need of:

A men’s medium dress shirt

32 x 32 pants

A belt

A size 12 ½ men’s dress shoes

Brian asked me to end his story with a summary he gave of himself. So, I leave you with this.

“ I am a man who is learning to direct my own life in the right direction through relying on kind people who remind me I have the potential to be the best version of myself."

Thanks for reading,

Syd

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