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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Charlie Phoenix, AZ

I am constantly expressing how amazed I am by the individuals I meet through serving with Can You Spare A Story and Charlie is no different. Meeting Charlie, I was amazed by his resilience and his ability to remain strong through unfair trials of life on the streets. Charlie is an Arizona native who grew up within Casa Grande. Charlie today stands strong as a 70-year-old man battling life on the streets but at one time, he was a young boy living with his brothers and father whom he adored more than anything. As Charlie grew older, his father’s work made the family move quite often making it difficult for the boys to find a strong group of peers.

As time goes, Charlie grew from adolescence into adulthood seeking new adventures and finding new love. He married his first wife and move to the New England area to settle down. The couple continued on to have two children whom Charlie loved so much. Although his love for his children was strong, the spark in his marriage was not and the two decided to get divorced. Charlie then returned back to his roots moving back to Arizona for a fresh start.

 

Charlie expressed his love for precision as we spoke on the curbside. He mentioned that he spent the majority of his adult life working as an architectural draftsman where imprecision was not an option.  He loved that everything lined up in this career with the perfect pieces meeting. Charlie spent 20 years working hard climbing the corporate ladder, making an income solid enough for him to live peacefully. Out of the blue, when he thought he would be forever wrapped up in the love of his work, he found love elsewhere. Charlie fell madly in love with the woman of his dreams and who later became his wife. Although the two were inseparable, her family was less than pleased with Charlie and showed constant disapproval. His wife came from a very wealthy background and since Charlie did not, they did not deem him worthy for their daughter.

 

When Charlie spoke to me about his wife, he spoke about her like she put stars in the sky, commenting on not only her beauty but also her precision. The reason he loved his work aligned with the reason he loved his wife. She also served as an architectural draftsman and was very talented at the role she served. He didn’t care about the money in which she belonged, he cared about who she was and was drawn to her wisdom, beauty, and kindness. In 2005, after 18 years of marriage Charlie’s wife became extremely ill and Charlie decided that after 45 years of a career he loved, he was going to retire. Rather than a dream retirement of drinks on a warm beach, Charlie spent his time caring for his wife and there was nowhere else in the world he would have rather been.

 

Charlie’s wife sadly passed away which sadly left Charlie having to battle with her family over the couple’s shared finances. Charlie had been retired from work for the past few years to take the time to care for his wife. He had no income outside of their shared savings leaving this a battle of life or death for Charlie. A man who had recently lost the woman he loved was now being put through a battle to receive the ability to simply live. His wife’s family had extremely powerful lawyers and Charlie told me that he was left with nothing and nowhere to go.

 

Charlie first became homeless in 2010. Charlie had been through it, losing the woman he loved and the money they had saved together. Charlie was down in the deeps, but he did not lose his spirit. He remained resilient and continue to stay positive. He mentioned that at the beginning of his sprint with homelessness, he felt a sense of freedom for the first time in his lifetime he had no responsibility and no one to answer to. But as he approaches his 10-year-mark with homelessness, he has become quite tired and rundown. He mentioned that people tend to be quite cruel to individuals struggling with homelessness. He has been screamed at, ignored, and even arrested for simply existing. He mentions that prior to homelessness, he had no trouble with the law but now finding a place to sleep without being charged with trespassing is difficult. I was disturbed by this, when I lay my down at night I do not have to fear being awoken to handcuffs. I curiously asked what the best ways to survive on the streets are, to which he answered, “mind your own business and keep your eyes open.” As a busy slowly approached, I jumped in reaction and he commented that I need to be more aware of my surroundings. Homelessness truly teaches individuals things we never suspect. Charlie now holds signs in an effort to make enough to feed himself. After ten harsh Arizona summers, Charlie is ready for change once again. This summer he hopes to catch a bus to California and start over in a much more mild climate.

 

Although Charlie has seen rough days in recent years, he still remains dedicated to a full and rewarding life. His wisdom of the world and compassion for others is inspiring to say the least. I hope to live like Charlie and strive for a full life. Charlie, if you are reading this thank you so much for dedicating your time to speaking with me. Thanks for sharing your story willingly and opening up to me after such a short friendship. I hope you find happiness in all of your adventures and don’t hesitate to reach out. You will always have the Can You Spare A Story family.

 

Readers, thank you so much for making it to the end of this story. Charlie was so special to me and the fact you took the time to read his story means the world. I hope his story impacts your view of individuals struggling with homelessness and inspires you to get to know friends struggling in your neck of the woods. Can You Spare A Story is growing at rapid rates and none of this would be possible without your love and support. So thank you.. for everything! We are excited to announce that we are expanding and looking for new writers. If you are interested in becoming a writer for Can You Spare A Story please email me at sydney@canyouspareastory.com.

 

CYSS has also launched a new podcast, The Can You Spare A Story podcast shares the stories of individuals who have broken the cycle of homelessness. Please take a moment to listen to Renee’s story and if you know anyone who would like to share their story please let me know.

 

Thanks for reading, supporting, and loving us,

Syd

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Yvone Phoenix, AZ

I am constantly inspired by the incredible women I meet on the streets. Yvone is absolutely no exception, as she has one of the most brilliant minds, creative souls, and vibrant boss-lady attitudes I have ever seen. Yvone is extremely proud of her heritage, as it is what makes her unique. A beautiful product of a Jewish father and an Indian mother, she shows resemblance from both parents and her unique look is what makes her so beautiful. Yvone was born in Alabama to two incredibly loving parents who simply wanted what was best for her. Alabama is where she got her southern charm, until her family packed up and moved to Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn is where Yvone developed a sense of self-leadership, attitude, standing up for what she believes in, and the street smarts that now keep her alive.

While Yvone was growing up, her parents constantly stressed the importance of getting an education and keeping your standards high. She held to this word by attending college to study business and joining the workforce. Yvone worked a large variety of jobs including working as a home economics teacher, a secretary, and various positions in politics. She mentioned that when she was working in these industries, the world was a different place filled with racism, but she never let this hold her back. Even with so much on her plate, Yvone made time to have three beautiful children. Yvone was later diagnosed with lung cancer and the bills began to rack up, leaving her out of money with nowhere to go.

Today Yvone is staying at Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) working as a live-in volunteer who contributes to the campus while also living there. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to be safe within the shelter and not having to live on the streets. Yvone has previous suffered while living on the streets having to deal with sexual assault, being attacked, and having things stolen from her. She had to live in fear each and every day constantly worrying about surviving another day. During her time on the streets, Yvone was involved in a hit and run accident where she was hit by a SUV and left for dead. She was then placed in a hospital to heal, where she had a life realization and rekindled a relationship with God.

I would like to personally thank Yvone for taking the time to volunteer her story with me. It takes a real warrior to go through what you have, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know you. You are such a special individual and I truly wish nothing but the absolute best for you because you deserve it.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

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Michael and Dianne Las Vegas, NV

I have always found it incredibly interesting how life throws people into our lives exactly when we need them. Sometimes at our lowest lows when we feel as though the world is cold and dark, the world places someone who gleams light into the mix. This point was proven to me when I had the pleasure of meeting Michael and Dianne. Michael and Dianne met and fell in love on the streets of Las Vegas. Everything was not perfect starting out as the two had to learn how to co-exist and trust each other. The streets are an unexpected place to find love but both had been struggling with homelessness and together they decided to work their way out of it. The two now have an unbreakable bond full of love and trust. I was absolutely blown away by their love story and needed to share it with the world.

Dianne met Michael 5 years ago, she had just gotten out of rehabilitation and had nowhere left to go. Her mother now had custody of her beloved daughter and she was left on the streets. Dianne originally traveled solo, constantly being harassed and always on high alert. She mentioned how difficult it can be to trust others when it seems as though everyone is out to get you. Luckily, she met and fell in love with a man she can trust and whom she plans to spend the rest of her life with.

Michael, who is originally from California, has been on the streets for the past 6 years. He has learned a great deal about life and the world through life on the streets. He mentions how important the lessons he has learned are and thinks everyone should live on the streets at some point. Losing everything teaches you to value the things you have in life. Michael has a new found appreciation for life and as he heads out of homelessness he takes the lessons of the streets with him.

Since traveling together, Michael and Dianne have developed a bond as I have never seen. He looks at her like she puts stars and the sky and she smiles a genuine smile. Most people do not expect to find this kind of happiness on the streets but Michael and Dianne are the exceptions. But their experience on the streets has not been all sunshine and rainbows. The couple has lost everything and has had to rebuild their life multiple times. Luckily, Michael and Dianne have the luxury of staying with Michael’s aunt in Las Vegas some days. They spend their days running signs on the streets in an effort to pay her back for her generosity.

Michael and Dianne hope to get back into the workforce within the Las Vegas Valley. Micheal would love to work at any local car washes as he has previous experience in this field! Dianne is looking for a job either working as a barista or working in a spa. Currently, they stay around Spring Mountain and Jones. If you know of any opportunities for work, please let us know so we can get you connected with these incredible individuals.

Micheal and Dianne, words cannot describe how incredible meeting you both was. Your genuine happiness is contagious and I am so grateful to know you. I hope the readers love you as much as I do.

Readers, thank you so much for keeping up with Can You Spare A Story on all of our social media platforms. In 2018, we had the privilege of serving over 1,000 individuals struggling with homelessness. None of this would be possible without your support so thank you for making 2018 an absolute dream. 2019 will be filled with more growth and we hope you stick around to grow with us.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

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Jerry Phoenix, AZ

I am completely and utterly convinced that individuals are placed in our lives to guide us in times of need. Upon my anxious arrival back to school in Phoenix, I was feeling broken, unmotivated, and stressed. As many of you know, Can You Spare A Story (CYSS) sells merchandise in order to raise the funds we use on projects. We give 100% of proceeds back to serving but we also just recently launched a buy-one-give-one program. When you buy one of our shirts, we give one back to someone in need. So, I have Alyssa Rikimaru to thank for meeting Jerry. Thank you Alyssa.. for shopping to serve and introducing me to this sweet man.

Jerry is the epitome of a hardworking American man, he gives everything he can yet expects nothing in return.  From the time Jerry could walk, he worked alongside his father at a car shop right here in Arizona. Once he was old enough, he joined the Navy, where he fought for our freedom for 12 years of his life. During this time, he met the love of his life, Sue, who he has now been married to for 38 years. When Jerry came home from the Navy, he returned back to work in the car industry for 24 more years absolutely loving every second of it. Sadly, right before his 25-year-mark in the industry, Jerry was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma and was unable to work.

Squamous cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer which is described as an uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells on the skin’s outer layer. The painful recovery left Jerry out of work with 126 staples in the left side of his face. He was faced needing physical therapy to re-learn how to use the left side of his body once again. At this time, he was living in Surprise, Arizona in a home he loved, never imagining he would have to lose it.

This is the part of these stories that always breaks me. I wish I could go back in time and help Jerry before any of this ever happened. With a hefty mortgage, car payment, and medical bills on his plate, Jerry and Sue were forced to live in their car just trying to make it by. Jerry never imagined this would happen to him as many people do. His pride left him feeling guilty to ask for help from the Veteran’s Association (VA) or anyone else. Jerry took to the streets, having to pan-handle in order just to make it by. He told me stories of feeling humiliated after people stared at him or even laughed and make comments about him.

To those people, Jerry is human. Jerry is an American war hero simply trying to provide for those he loves. Do not ever judge Jerry or anyone else for being forced into this situation. If the tables were turned, would you enjoy being abused by strangers? I hope this story provides you with some insight that you should get to know people before you label them.

Back to the story, (sorry yes.. I do still get angry when people judge with no information.)

Until recently, Jerry has not reached out to the Veteran’s Association (VA). Through many thoughts and prayers, Jerry and Sue were provided with an apartment for the next year until they get back on their feet. It is such an amazing opportunity! They also provided him with medical support and he is still looking at getting medical coverage for his wife. Although Jerry received housing, he was still lacking a lot of basic essentials when we met him. Thankfully with all of your generous donations and purchases of the Can You Spare A Story merchandise, we were able to take Jerry shopping for their new place. On Sunday, September 2nd, my boyfriend Nico and I took Jerry to Walmart to purchase everything he needed. We got everything from bath mats and towels to tons of food and we actually got to document it all! We’ll have another video on our Can You Spare A Story YouTube channel uploaded later this week!

With $150, we tried our best to make a house feel like a home. Jerry is currently applying and interviewing for jobs in Phoenix. He has experience with automobiles, painting, and handy work. He is looking for a full-time position and is willing to do anything. If you or someone you know has an opportunity for work in the Phoenix valley, please reach out to me and I will get you in contact with Jerry.

From the time I have spent with Jerry, I have found a friendship like no other. Jerry is passionate about life and finds happiness in the small things. He has so much love for the Lord and never gives up faith in His ability to provide. He even expressed interest in becoming a pastor someday. I am so inspired by Jerry and Sue’s love for one another, no matter the situation they do life together with love and passion. I hope Nico loves me the way Jerry loves Sue in 38 years.

Jerry, thank you for reminding me to have faith in the world around me. I hope I can be a lifelong friend.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec8YsMWUsdE&feature=youtu.be


Anthony Las Vegas, NV

Meet Anthony, a man whose life took a dramatic turn he never imagined would happen. Born in Saint Louis, Missouri, Anthony was raised in a well-off family where his father could provide for him and his mother. He had an amazing childhood where he didn’t have to worry about much and had the luxury of being a kid. He now looks back at the life he once had and wishes he would’ve known how incredibly blessed he was in that moment. Now as the 54-year-old man struggles with homelessness, he reminisces on his past and wishes he could go back to a time without worry.

Anthony has always had a passion for music and entertainment. His bubbly and magnetic personality has always drawn others in, with his ability to captivate individuals in just a simple conversation. In hopes of becoming successful in the competitive entertainment industry, he moved out to Burbank, California where he spent a majority of his adult life. For many years, he found success working in both the entertainment and restaurant industry, that was until what he calls “the great fall” happened. When we discussed “the great fall,” he spoke about selling his home and figuring he could camp out for a while. Times got tough and Anthony became tight on money.

Craving a new beginning, Anthony moved to Las Vegas nine months ago in hopes of a comeback. This new journey in a new city forced Anthony to face the harsh reality that people weren’t all that supportive of people pursuing new beginnings. Anthony found himself homeless and struggling in the streets of downtown Las Vegas. For the first time in his life, Anthony met individuals truly in despair, people who did not have the opportunities he did growing up. He found sadness in knowing that some of these individuals were born into instability and homelessness and have remained that way. In the homeless community, there are things many people call “social interruptions,” such as jail, kids, divorce, and substance abuse. Anthony is blessed to not to be interrupted by any of these things and credits the morals his family raised him with. Anthony believes that having a strong moral compass on the streets can keep you out of trouble. Anthony uses his kind personality and love for others to help people even when he can’t seem to help himself.

In times of need, individuals are often referred to large-scale shelters which receive millions of dollars in donations annually. With that much money, you’d assume that the individuals seeking help would receive the proper care, support and respect, but Anthony and many others I’ve met have described their experiences as less than picture perfect. They describe a place where showers and rooms are rarely cleaned and things are always stolen. As an outsider, I have always seen homeless shelters as a safe place for healing, yet those living in them are not seeing the best results. I believe it is time that we start to question these large scale organizations on their true intentions and who they really favor.

Luckily, Anthony has found a safe place to heal at the Care Complex, where he spends his days volunteering to help others who are in need. The Care Complex is a small non-profit organization that works to reconnect individuals struggling with homelessness with family and loved ones. They also offer services to receive new identification cards, clothing, lockers for valuables, and so much more. This small non-profit makes much less in donations and is still providing Anthony with the needed care he deserves. This shows that you do not need millions of dollars to help people in need, you just need human decency and the ability to respect and care for others.

Anthony has a special spirit who lives to serve others even in his time of need. He is kind, yet strong and is constantly working to make others laugh and feel comfortable. He goes out of his way to get to know who visits the Care Complex and makes sure to introduce them to others. He builds community in a place of despair and uses his leadership skills to be the change we all wish to see in the world. He is currently seeking employment to get back on his feet and Can You Spare A Story wants to be a part of that journey. We have found a place here in town where Anthony is going to apply but if anyone else is interested in hiring this incredible man please feel free to reach out to us.

Thanks for Reading,

Syd

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Topper and Paige Las Vegas, NV

As I’m sure many of us can agree, we all crave a life full of adventure, yet most of us don’t take the opportunity to make it a reality. I was deeply inspired when meeting Topper and Paige, a young couple seizing the moment and exploring the world. They have spent the last 2 months traveling the west coast in their beloved school bus they named Lakshmi. Although they are not homeless, since they sleep in their bus, they have chosen to ride the open road which naturally comes with a few bumps. Sadly, these bumps in the road have made them stranded in Paige’s hometown of Las Vegas. Their beloved school bus Lakshmi has a broken fuel pump and they do not have the funds to fix it. To get back on the road and back to the adventure, the young couple is pan-handling hoping to raise enough money to get it fixed.

 

If any of our readers are or know someone who is a mechanic who could possibly help Topper and Paige with their bus, please feel free to reach out! Your help in getting them back on the road would mean the absolute world to us!

 

Although Topper and Paige have hit hard times, they still remain optimistic and ready for anything that comes their way. Once  they are on the road again with their three dogs, they hope to make their way to Northern California where they can mine for gold. They have found success in finding gold in steams, sandbars, rivers, and plaster deposits. This hobby has become something that can make them money during their travels. This inspired me to get thinking about the world around us. We are all so focused on getting jobs and securing our futures that we miss the little opportunity to make the most of life. This incredible young couple is exploring and making the most of their 20’s and admire this so much.

 

Once we started talking about Can You Spare A Story and the work we do with the homeless, Topper and Paige spoke about their similar passion. In the past, they have served with an incredible local group called Food Not Bombs. Food Not Bombs is a local non-profit that focuses on sharing food that would otherwise go to waste.  They serve free vegan meals in public spaces such as city parks, distribute food to people in need, and provide food at activist events, politically-conscious shows and social gatherings.

 

Although Paige and Topper love a life of adventure, they hope to eventually settle down in rural Northern Nevada. There they plan to build a house, mine for gold, and live with their three adorable dogs who they adore. I had an absolute blast getting to know Paige and Topper and I hope you enjoyed reading about them as well.

You can follow their journey by liking the A Bus Called Lakshmi Facebook page here- https://www.facebook.com/LakshmiBus/

Thanks for reading,

Syd

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Taryn San Francisco, CA

I had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Taryn on my last trip to San Francisco. As I always mention, powerful women on the streets are my absolute favorite individuals to meet. Taryn was no exception, she is a fully-functioning female powerhouse who has been homeless on her own for the past 16 years.

Taryn craved adventure after spending her whole childhood, growing up in Texas and then moving to San Francisco for a change of scenery. She dreamt of life within the big cities of California, seeking the glamorous lifestyle portrayed within movies. Her fairytale ending fell short upon arrival to the big city, the big city living came with a big city price tag. Alone for the first time with no money, Taryn was forced onto the streets in 2002.

Taryn quickly adapted to life on the streets and learned the ropes of survival. She said that the hardest part of this change in lifestyle was learning how and where to get help from others. The first few winters in San Francisco were brutal filled with ice cold nights. She said that the hardest part of life on the streets is keeping warm but scraping up the money for a few blankets provided temporary relief.

Taryn is a one-woman-show who finds living on the streets easier on her own. There is only one mouth to feed and only one body to clothe. She mentioned that she does not have the means to care for more than one individual. Although she does not travel with a group, she has found friends on the streets by talking with others. When I brought up staying in shelters, she mentioned to me that shelters are where things get stolen, so she prefers sleeping on the streets with her small basket of belongings.

One major thing Taryn is concerned about is getting proper nutrition on the streets. Although she appreciates the food people provide for her, she said she rarely receives fruits and vegetables that could nourish her body. She constantly receives fast food and sweets, which make her lack the energy needed to survive. She also attends free meal times through local charities but mentions they often only have fatty foods that don’t provide all aspects of the food pyramid.

When I asked Taryn what she wanted others to know about her, she stated simply, “I am human.” She went on to elaborate that in the fast city pace of San Francisco, people often overlook the homeless, applying unfair stereotypes to every individual. Taryn mentioned that she is not the negative image of a homeless individual but that she is simply a woman trying to survive.

Meeting Taryn was such a powerful and rewarding experience for me. She is truly the epitome of female power and strength. When I meet individuals like Taryn, I wish I could do everything in my power to save them. The truth is Taryn doesn’t need my saving, she enjoys her life and me treating her with dignity and respect was enough. Money will never compare to what the power of human kindness can do. This was a huge lesson Taryn taught me.

Taryn, if you are ever reading this please know that chatting with you in the park was a life changing moment for me. You showcase such strength and I hope to be half the woman you are one day.

Thanks for reading,

Syd


Jeremiah Las Vegas, NV

Some say that war changes them, making them fear the world around, yet Jeremiah believes that serving four years as a marine in Afghanistan made him stronger than ever. Jeremiah seemed to have it made, he was madly in love with the girl of his dreams and ready to settle down after the military. His big plans changed when the love of his life decided to move home to Buffalo, New York to be closer to her family. Although Jeremiah was heartbroken, he supported her decision and knew that her family needed her more than he did. He was left alone in Las Vegas after an incredible 9 years with his girlfriend.

 

In a time of pain, Jeremiah fell into more trouble as his financial situation got tough and he was forced to move into a two-bedroom apartment with eight other people. At the time, he had no idea how many people were living in the space. The apartment was toxic, filled with negativity and bad decisions.  He felt trapped and needed a way out after a few different, bad situations, so he moved out onto the streets to face the world around him. He was alone and confused but understood it was his only option. Jeremiah has now been homeless for the past year. He has found 2 incredible travel companions whom he trusts with his life, a friend, and his beloved dog. The trio panhandle, praying each and every day to make it out alive. When most people would be freaking out, Jeremiah finds peace in homelessness. He is finally free to do what he wants with no one holding him back.

 

To make money, Jeremiah works on occasion as a stage handle at some of the downtown Las Vegas casinos. He enjoys the work and finds the behind the scenes action so interesting! Although he enjoys his work, the gigs are few and far between, leaving Jeremiah without a steady paycheck. On days he is not working, he is panhandling the streets of downtown Las Vegas just to get by. He mentioned that he has met a lot of kind people through panhandling who see that his intentions are pure and he is simply looking to survive. Jeremiah is a quiet individual who is more willing to talk about others than himself making our interview absolute torture for him. Through and through, he remained strong and kind starting to open up as we spoke on the street corner.

 

Jeremiah mentioned that he still talks to his father but he does not feel he has to be saved by him. He enjoys the life he lives and finds happiness in the unpredictable nature. His love for constant adventure inspired me to be more open to vulnerability within my own life. I feel as though I am constantly planning the future and attending meetings. I hope to implement more time for exploring the world around me without limits. Jeremiah, though he was short in words, had a dramatic impact on the way I view chronic homelessness and I hope he has a similar impact on you. Although Jeremiah’s life is not typical to the average person, he loves every minute of it and isn’t that all that matters?

 

Jeremiah, I hope you get the opportunity to read this and see how dramatic of an impact our conversation had on my view of the world. I admire your ability to go with the flow and be happy with whatever is handed to you. Thank you for sharing your story and teaching me the beauty of vulnerability.

Thanks for reading,

Syd

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Timothy Las Vegas, NV

Meet Timothy, six months ago he had a seemingly normal life for a young man in his twenties. He had friends, a new apartment, and a job working hard for a paycheck at the end of the week. That was until he woke up in a hospital bed, incapable of remembering who he was and what had happened. He had a small skull fracture, which racked up medical expenses he could not pay for and left him in pain. Timothy fell into a depression, leading him to hang out with the wrong crowd. These individuals that he has since parted with were involved in crimes and drugs which negatively impacted him as a whole. The medical expenses took over his life and he was incapable of working his normal job. He lost his apartment and became someone he didn’t want to be. He needed change. His poor health and constant need to understand what happened haunted him on a daily basis. A few months later, Timothy was entered into a cognitive program which worked to regain his memory and get him back on his feet.

Since participating in the cognitive program, he has decided to change his direction in life and surround himself with individuals who will build him into the man he wants to be. He is currently struggling with homelessness and lives on the streets of downtown Las Vegas. He surrounds himself with a group of young men who are working to get off the streets and they protect one another during this mission. During our interview, Timothy asked me if he could write down a few things he wanted us to share within his story. He is the first individual to ever sit down and write his own fact in my notebook. He wrote about changing his direction in life and how he has learned to value personal freedom and is working to understand who he is and where he wants to go.

Timothy was nervous when we asked to take his photograph for the story to protect himself and the freedom he has found. He agreed to let us take a photo of the side of his face. I find myself scrolling back to look at this photo often because he seems so strong. He is looking determined to a better future. I am not the only one who saw this potential. Following the event that we met Timothy at, my mom had taken an interest in him and chose to help him out. Timothy had spoken about being unable to afford his needed medicine so my mom offered to drive him to the pharmacy and pick up his prescribed medication. He was so thankful forthis act of kindness and his face lit up with happiness.

Timothy is one of those individuals who genuinely connects with others. You can sense how educated and dedicated he is just by speaking with him for a few minutes. He has been through a lot, which has taught him about the important things in life. I had such an incredible time getting to know Timothy and I hope you enjoyed his story as well.

Timothy, if you are ever reading this. I hope you know that getting to know you was an absolute pleasure and I sense so much potential within you. I hope you work hard to get back on your feet and be the man you plan to be.

Thanks for reading,
Sydney


Raven Las Vegas, NV

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of strong women who make the most of life on the streets. That is why I am so excited to introduce you all to Raven. Raven grew up in a small town with her mother, who was her everything. Her father had left at a young age and her mother did everything in her power to provide a good life for Raven. She grew up in a happy, little house where she was raised to make the most of what she has. She admired her mother her so much for being an incredible example of what a strong woman looks like. Raven’s mother sadly passed away, leaving her alone in the world.

In Raven’s grief, she needed a major change and craved love and someone to share her life with. She met a nice man online who seemed like the whole package, so she gave up the life she always knew to move to Las Vegas after a few months of talking. For a while, everything seemed good. She was happy for the first time since her mother had passed and she was looking for a good paying job. Before she could settle in, the man she had moved across the country for had other plans and left her high and dry. She couldn’t come up the other half of the rent he left her, so she was forced out on the streets with no one to save her.

When most people would feel defeated, Raven felt empowered. She was on her own for the first time in her whole life and was forced to make the most of life on the streets. She had a new found confidence and finally felt secure in her own skin. She had no one to answer to and no expectations to meet. To make money, she collects cans and turns them into a local recycling agency. This provides her with enough money to have food and water and she does her best to save by going to local shelters for meals. Although the shelters provide a lot for individuals, she feels most comfortable living in her tent on the streets in downtown Vegas. I asked if she is ever nervous about being a woman alone on the streets, she mentioned that she does everything in her power to avoid conflict and this keeps her out of trouble. She maintains good relationships with other individuals on the streets but is also very selective with who she trust.

Raven’s biggest struggle on the streets is finding shelter in harsh weather and keeping clean. In the downtown area, business owners are very strict about not letting homeless individuals use restrooms so finding a place to wash up is difficult. She said the best place she has found is a gas station about 2 miles away from where she stays. Although this is not the easiest life, Raven has found happiness in her struggle. She makes the most of her situation and that is why I admire her so much. I often look back at the photo we shot for her story and think about how genuinely happy she looks.

I hope Raven’s story inspires you to be happy with the situation you are in and to make the most of the world around you. Life is full of good things, you just have to be willing to look.

Raven, if you are ever reading this, I hope you know the incredible impact you have had on me. You have shown me to make the most of my situation no matter how stressful or hard things get. I cannot thank you enough for sitting down with me and letting me get to know you. Please stay safe and never lose your optimism.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney


Eugene Phoenix, AZ

Since starting Can You Spare A Story, a lot individuals I’ve spoken with have told me the same advice, “you can’t help those who do not want to help themselves.” I always took this advice with a grain of salt, powering on to serve anyone and everyone, until I discovered the large population of individuals who are chronically homeless. I, myself never understood the concept of loving life on the streets until I met Eugene.

Eugene recently celebrated his 59th birthday on the streets, the same place he has celebrated it since 1982. Eugene has been chronically homeless for 32 years since he got caught up in a bad loan which lead him to lose his whole life. When everything fell apart, he became depressed and angry, making poor choices and getting himself in trouble. He hung out with the wrong crowd on the streets and ended up addicted to drugs and a life in and out of prison. As Eugene has become older, he has separated with negative influences and has found happiness living on the streets. Although this may seem impossible to most of us, everyone has a different definition of what a good and meaningful life is.

Now that Eugene is older and wiser, he has learned how to survive and be successful within street life. He told me the importance of traveling alone and how the only person you should depend on should be yourself. Eugene is currently staying in the downtown Phoenix area and acts as a security guard for young women and children on the streets. He has learned from his past mistakes and enjoys helping other avoid the same situations. Eugene told me that he believes individuals struggling with homelessness tend to act crazy as defense mechanism so that no one will mess with them. He believes this is the wrong approach and is dramatically impacting the public’s view of the homeless population. He believes there are two kinds of homeless individuals: those who are anti-social and those who are seeking attention to receive help. The anti-social individuals are people who mind their own business and enjoy the worry-free life of homelessness. The attention seeking individuals are normally newly homeless and looking for a way to be saved.

From his 32 years on the streets, Eugene has thought of a multitude of ideas to successfully tackle the worldwide epidemic of homelessness. He has taken it upon himself to demand social change for the homeless population through sharing his ideas with anyone who will listen. He has written to state legislators, governors, and even previous President, Barack Obama. Sadly, he has never received word back. I was lucky enough to have him share a few of his ideas with me.

Eugene believes that the current system to address homelessness is backwards and belittles the individuals rather than building them up. He truly believes that knowledge is power and that by allowing the homeless to have access to computers, GED opportunities, and basic life skill courses will provide individuals the motivation to get back into the swing of things. He also suggested an alternative to the shelter system, we could take an empty lot and section it off into individual camp spaces for people to call their own. In order to gain your own space, the individual would have to work cleaning up the streets. This would allow for individuals struggling with homelessness to feel a sense of ownership while cleaning the area, costing taxpayers less money in the long run. Eugene suggests that if we encourage individuals living on the streets to take pride in the space they call home that less resources would needed to keep the area clean.

Eugene was passionate and creative with his ideas to address an issue that he has been living with for 32 years. His passion for others is wildly apparent and he is a natural born protector. I hope to one day implement these ideas and if I had the resources to do it now I would hire Eugene on immediately to watch his ideas come to life. Although most of us do not understand Eugene’s lifestyle, we should be accepting of his choices and be happy that he has found comfort in this lifestyle. Eugene is happy on the streets protecting others and that is all that matters.

Eugene, if you are ever reading this, I am so grateful for the opportunity to hear the ideas you have been thinking of for decades. I will do anything in my power to make these ideas come to life. Thank you so much for using your knowledge of the streets to protect others. You’re an unspoken hero and I loved getting to know you.

Thanks for reading,

Syd

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Mike (Rooster) Phoenix, AZ

Mike is one of those individuals whose creativity and compassion is contagious to all of those around him. As he was telling me his story, he spoke with his hands, which were filled with unique turquoise rings with a story attached to each one. Mike has been on the streets for a year but 2 months ago, he met the companion of his dreams. A beautiful girl named Delilah, with a white coat of fur and a wagging tail, she was the dream companion for Mike’s travels. Mike mentioned that all of his friends call him Rooster and that since we were now friends I was more than welcome to call him Rooster.

Mike grew up as a fun-loving hippie, who lived to beach camp in Stayton Beach and travel across the United States raising hell with his friends. As the years went on, the need to grow up approached him all too fast, forcing him to do physical labor roofing housing. He loved what he did and was grateful for the job to put food on the table but his body was overworked, leaving him strained. He began having extreme pain in shoulders, back, and knees, leading him to be prescribed morphine. Morphine is a highly addictive opioid which is used to treat severe pain. The opioid epidemic is huge within the United States, leaving people addicted and broke with nowhere to turn but street drugs. This is exactly what happened to Mike, morphine made his pain bearable and when the doctors stopped writing the prescriptions, Mike turned to heroin for a cheap fix. Mike mentioned that this was by far his worst mistake and if he could go back he would. His need for the drug became more important than paying bills and eating, making him lose everything. He was forced onto the streets after being short on rent.

Mike felt defeated and lost within the world until he met Delilah. 2-months-ago, Mike was sitting at a bus stop talking with a man whose girlfriend was attempting to make money to get food. Mike was fascinated by how beautiful their dog was and began showing interest in her. The man spoke about how they were barely affording a small studio apartment and how the dog was too large for the space. Mike had been living in an abandoned parking lot and had tons of space for the dog. Mike proposed a trade for some money for food and found his new best friend.

Delilah is a Pitbull-Labrador mix who is 7-months old. She is an extremely faithful companion for Mike and has even saved his life when he was having a seizure. Mike added that she stood over him only letting the paramedics get to him. She was a natural born service animal who is dedicated to protecting Mike. Mike shares all of his food with Delilah and even shared the pizza that we at Can You Spare A Story provided that day! The two are inseparable and are perfect companions for a journey.

Mike has recently bought a van that he lives out of and is trying to get his life back together. Today, he is no longer using opioids or heroin to ease his chronic pain but has instead turned to medical marijuana. He has found that his pain is bearable when he smokes and he can function better than when he was using harsher drugs. Mike believes that he has been protected by his passion and love for life. He is the kind of man who would give the shirt off his back for someone in need and I truly believe his kindness is genuine.

Mike, if you are ever reading this.. I hope you find your way back to the life you have dreamt of and I hope you continue to let your passion guide you finding friends along the way.

Thanks for reading,

Syd

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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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Mike Las Vegas, NV

Mike is one of those individuals who is born with the blues in his blood. His passion for the music is electric and present as you speak with him. In recent years, he has been struck by homelessness killing his ability to freely practice his passion. He has been playing, practicing, and performing for the last 30 years of his life. He came to Las Vegas from Massachuset looking for a life in show business doing anything to make it happen. To practice his daydream, he had to deal with a day job at a local temp agency. The work was few and far between leaving Mike with no consistency in his financial situations. With bills to pay and a mouth to feed, the money ran out quick and he was forced onto the streets. Mike has spent the last two years on the streets just trying to survive.

I am a firm believer that passion can get you out of any situation that hits you in life. The excitement in Mike's voice a I met him was one extremely familiar to me. It was a voice of excitement for the future. I had the pleasure of meeting Mike on a day full of incredible opportunity where he had just tried out for a blue band in the downtown area. His passion was contagious as he told me all about the audition and how for the first time in a long time, he felt right again. The music is what keeps Mike going, it's the notes and beats that dance in his head giving him the strength to carry on.

Mike has learned the ropes of the streets over the course of the last two years. You would be so surprised to know how much time management and patience it takes for survival on the streets. Mike has to wake up, get in line for breakfast, wait 2-3 hours, get back in line for lunch wait 2-3 again, and then get back in line for dinner. Once has finished getting food, he has to focus on finding a place to stay for the night. If the line is too long for the shelters, he must find a place on the streets before everything is taken. In his free time, he has to focus on finding sources of clothing, transpiration, and locker space.

Mike says that hardest part about being homeless is finding a safe place to store your belongings while trying to get sleep in. A lot of theft occurs on the streets and if you aren't careful you could lose it all in the blink of an eye. Mike travels on his own and minds his own business to stay out of trouble. He is still on his mission of making his music career come to life and practices daily to keep up with his skill set.

Mike is filled with passion which I personally believe will get him through this rough patch. I hope more than anything that he received the opportunity to play in the blues band downtown to let his talents shine. If you're reading this Mike, never quit your daydream.

Thanks for reading,

Syd

 


Janice

Janice; Las Vegas, NV

It means the world that you guys come back and read these stories, that you take a break out of your busy schedule to listen to the voiceless homeless individuals through our organization and blog. Although I’ve never struggled with homelessness, I feel an overwhelming need to provide a voice for the homeless individuals I meet. I guess my point is, we all struggle. Whether it be to make ends meet and find a place to lay your head at night or battling with the little demons that try to hold us back. You come to Can You Spare A Story to connect with those you otherwise would not have the opportunity to, I thank you for giving us that honor.

It is extremely rare that I meet women on the streets who are willing to have their photo taken. Janice was different, Janice was ready to smile and tell the world her story. I have decided to be more like Janice. I find that too often, I am overly self-conscious of what I look like and what people think of me. In all honesty, why does it matter? Your story is your story. It makes you who you are but it will never define your future.

Janice is a 59-year-old Chicago native who grew up in the heart of the city! In recent years, she has moved to the Las Vegas area with her daughter and grandchildren to start over. After a falling out with her daughter, she had nowhere to go but the streets. Luckily, she met a group of other women who live on the streets and travel together. This group includes Melissa ( Click her name to read her story), whose story we have already shared. I have such admiration for the women in this group. In this day and age, it can be extremely difficult for women to motivate one another without feeling threatened. These ladies challenge that and build each other up while they are on their way back to a normal life. I feel this is a quality we should teach our daughters, to build each other up instead of tearing each other down.
Janice turns to the Lord in times of need. In fact, she lives by the motto, “Let go and let God.” When most of us placed in Janice’s position would give up on a higher power, I find respect in knowing she remains true to her faith. This is the blind faith many of us hear about when you don’t even know if you are going to make it through the day, but you still believe.

Janice and her friends stumbled upon our Priceless Pop-Up Shop and were overjoyed to have a free shopping experience. This is what the Can You Spare A Story family LIVES for, making those in need feel like an individual again. We often times forget the luxury behind going into a store and purchasing needed items. Janice and her friends don’t have this opportunity so we work to provide it. We are hosting our second Priceless Pop-Up Shop on December 23rd and we are MAJOR need of donations. We are collecting men and women’s winter clothing, blankets, and toiletries. If you live in the Las Vegas Valley, Please consider donating to us as we give back directly to the individual’s whose stories you are reading. You can donate at all Ticor Title Locations which are pictured below!
and sharing these stories. As readers and supporters, you are automatically part of the Can You Spare A Story family which works to provide a voice for the voiceless homeless population. Please keep us in mind this holiday season by choosing to donate, volunteer, or sharing these stories with loved ones.  You can be the change that you wish to see in the world.

Thanks for reading,

Syd


One Year of Can You Spare A Story

One Year of Can You Spare A Story

Today marks one year since the creation of Can You Spare A Story. What started out as a passion project of a young girl in her dorm room, turned into a non-profit organization bringing people together to serve the homeless population. In one year, we have provided 20 homeless individuals a voice to share their stories without the fear of judgment. We have gathered 2,380 email followers who avidly follow and share these stories. Can You Spare A Story was created to end the negative stigma attached to the homeless population by sharing real-life stories of the homeless individuals I meet throughout life. In the last year, I have met and introduced some of the most inspiring individuals through the blog. I hope we continue to inspire individuality throughout the homeless.

The Can You Spare A Story family has felt inspired, defeated, and respected throughout the course of the last year. We have worked together as a community to collect 200 bags of clothing for our first event! On July 29th, we successfully held a Priceless Pop-Up Shop which provided our homeless clients a normal shopping experience without the worry of cost. Words cannot describe our excitement as 30 volunteers worked tirelessly to serve our 150 shoppers.

In the past year, Can You Spare A Story has become less about me and more about providing for others. This may sound strange, but through interviews, I have found a new appreciation for the little things in life. As we head into our second event, I have nothing but absolute faith and trust in the community. We will be hosting our second Priceless Pop-Up Shop on December 23rd, 2017. Once again, we will be working hand-in-hand with the Care Complex to provide for our homeless community. We are currently accepting donations of all men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories! Please see the following photo for information!

I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be trusted with the responsibility of sharing these stories. I hope Can You Spare A Story helps you realize that everyone has a story, you just have to listen.

Thanks for reading.

Sydney