Stevie Tempe, AZ

Today’s story deals with elements most people wouldn’t think of right off the bat. The other day I met Stevie, a goofy, fun-loving, bundle of joy whose smile might confuse you of the fact that he is in need. We were having a perfectly normal interview until I asked to take his photo. His eyes became glossy and his face was filled with shame, he said he was embarrassed of the way he looked.” if my family saw me like this, they would think I was less of a man”, those words broke my heart. Self-image isn’t the first issue that comes to mind when “homelessness” is thought of, but Stevie’s honesty shows that it’s an issue everyone struggles with.

This gets me to my next point, homeless individuals are treated like a subcategory, like they aren’t even people. Stevie opened my eyes by saying” no one says ” that man” they say ” that homeless man” like I’m a different species”. The homeless population is defined “homeless”, someone’s housing arrangement doesn’t change that they are individuals just like you and I. Being human means the ups and the downs, the insecurities, the traits and characteristics and so much more, the homeless community shouldn’t be defined by the fact that they don’t have a place to lay their heads at night but by who they are.  I hope you take this into account in your daily lives.

Stevie is a joyful ex-cowboy from East Texas who ended moved to Mesa, Arizona in July of 2014 with his then girlfriend. Stevie became homeless after his long-time girlfriend went back to her ex-husband and left him with a mortgage to pay. Following the break-up his depression set in and he found himself drinking to handle the pain. Alcohol took over his life…missed work, drunken rage, and bar fights became apart of his daily routine.Leaving his boss no option but to fire him, 2 months later he lost the apartment he once shared with the woman he loved.

Stevie has now been on the streets for 10 months, he started at a shelter in Mesa but couldn’t abide by the rules so he was asked to leave. He then met Robbie, his best-friend who showed him the ropes of living on the streets. My heart melted as he said something I will never forget, “He was like an older brother to me, my biggest blessing and now he’s my guardian angel”. He told me his eye-opening experiences happened on the streets of Phoenix, which he called his own personal hell. He speaks in a fearful tone of the fights, drug-use, and robberies he witnessed, even watching his only friend Robbie being stabbed to death in an altercation with an addict on the streets. Stevie now stays in Tempe, living a life with a few close friends on the streets. Stevie is a lover, who speaks passionately about the ones who he adores most, he says he thinks about his ex-girlfriend daily and does everything in his power to honor Robbie. I have been moved by Stevie’s story and although I didn’t have a photo to share, I felt the need to share his story.

Thanks for Reading,

Sydney

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