Shawn; Tempe, AZ

As the days of November continue to fly by, I hope you are making a difference in this year’s Homeless and Hunger Awareness month. You can do this easily by sharing this blog, volunteering, or even offering a smile in your daily commute.. You can be the change you wish to see in the world.

Today’s story is the story of Shawn whom I met outside a small coffee shop while discovering more of Tempe, AZ. While falling in love with the artist vibe of the downtown area, I also fell in love with the genuine nature of sweet Shawn.

This Nashville native moved to the Phoenix area in the summer of 2014 for a job with Samsung. He thought this was his big break working with such a huge name brand would offer monumental results changing his life forever. Everything was working out as planned until he was laid off in January of 2016. Shawn lost his lease and was forced onto the streets within a month of being laid off. In the months following, he heard the heartbreaking news of his mother passing away. With no way to return to Nashville for the funeral or even to mourn with family,he fell into a deep depression where the world felt like everything was against him. He continuously told me that he never turned to drugs, but that alcohol was his vice and inability to collect money to purchase alcohol was the only thing that saved his life.

In a drunken stumble, Shawn went down forcing him into a wheelchair with a fractured ankle, this was his rude awakening that drinking was taking over his life. He mentioned that his father had similar issues during his childhood, and he didn’t want to turn into the man he used to fear. He has been placed into two half-way houses for a chance at a life of sobriety. I was in shock when he mentioned to me that half-way houses weren’t for people “like him”. My confused expression must have ignited something in him because he immediately explained himself, saying ” Half-way houses are aimed at drugs more than alcoholism”. As further conversation continued, we discussed the fact that the environment was so negative that living on the streets seemed like a more positive option.

The question of ” what are the biggest challenges of life on the streets?” always come up with the obvious answers. (Sleep deprivation, hygiene, hunger, etc.) Shawn had a different answer, the use of meth and heroin on the streets at a growing rate in the area. He told me that drug-addicts cause the most problems with their delusional thoughts and irrational actions. He travels in a group of a few close friends to remain safe from the outside world. He told me an old member of his street family got involved in the drug scene, a few months went by and he came back looking like a zombie.Blue bags under his eyes from lack of sleep, scabs on his skin from where he had picked, and holes in his arm from the use of dirty needles, a terrifying image of real-life results of drug use.

I hope you keep Shawn in your thoughts and prayers.

Thanks for Reading,