Jared; Phoenix, AZ

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

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

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

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

Thanks For Reading,