Volume I: The Beginning
Welcome to the first edition of my blog “Souls Not Forgotten: …Stirrings from the Street”. What started as a project to define a vision for my photography has turned into an incredible life’s journey and fostered some very unlikely friendships.
It seems like yesterday, I sat at my computer, 4 weeks into my photo project trying to articulate a vision and direction for my photography this is what I wrote:
I intend to create a photo series entitled ” the Forgotten” with multiple galleries. Each gallery will highlight a different group of people in need. One group stood out above the rest, in my mind and in my heart and that was the homeless.
For me this was a departure from the norm. In the past, I had done volunteer work for animal rescues, dabbling in training and socialization but mostly creating those glamour shots that would tug at the heartstrings of potential adopters. As they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression. I wanted to save all those four-legged victims of neglect and abuse. Many of them made their way home with me. It never occurred to me until that very moment, to try and help my fellow man.
And so with that my journey began, one Friday evening armed with a bag of McDonalds cheeseburgers, I ventured out behind a retail shopping plaza where a number of homeless people were known to live and congregate. That’s where I met my friend Fritz Dutter. Our friendship inspired this journey. What I didn’t expect was the tremendous impact it would have on my life. I have met many forgotten “souls” during this journey as well as people and organizations that give of themselves to help them. They are” Angels of the Homeless.”
I feel very fortunate to have access to this world, one that I never imagined and one that I had many preconceived notions about. The homeless community is very private and guarded, there is very little trust and with good reason. It’s about survival.
You see, rarely if ever, is homelessness a choice. When you lose your job, your house and use up all your savings what do you do, where do you go? And once you’re out on the street, how do you assimilate back into society? How do you get a job interview let alone go to a job regularly? How do you get ready for work when you are sleeping under a bridge or in an alley? Things we take for granted are for them very much a luxury. Unfortunately, most of the systems and organizations are not geared to help people piece their lives back together. All they do is support the status quo by providing food and temporary housing. This in itself is not a bad thing but it is only a temporary patch and not a long-term solution.
Homelessness happens to people in all walks of life, Veterans corporate execs, children and the elderly. The economic downturn has had a catastrophic effect; there are homeless people everywhere you just need to open your eyes. That’ s what happened to me.
My hope is that as we start the New Year, we all look compassionately upon those who have nothing and nowhere to go. And we remember the true meaning of the holidays past letting concern for our fellow man tug at our heartstrings and guide us to help.
Tags: Blog, Fritz Dutter, Homeless, Souls Not Forgotten, The Beginning