Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hope, Perseverance, and Will Characterize One Man Homeless in Springfield, MO

Words and Images by Al Griffin

Downtown Springfield is a vibrant and charming place of 150,000 or so citizens where some are on the way up, some are on the way down, some are on the way in, and some are on the way out. Springfield’s  city center around the square has the usual mix of social circumstances: ups and downs, in and outs.

But on this day, I encountered Billy on a hot sidewalk just before noon. A pleasant smile and firm handshake accompanied the “hello” when I approached him. Outgoing and thoughtful, Billy said he had lived on the street for a couple of years after losing work and home. Billy worked a variety of different jobs before finding himself unable to land any job. He has no car and no prospects. He lives out of a small satchel he carries. 

After talking for a while about his travels from city to city looking for opportunities, it was clear he blamed no one for his circumstances. He suffered no ill will toward anyone and wishes others the best of luck. Even though I doubt he had eaten much in the last twenty-four hours, he refused any offer of money to help him on his way. He smiled and shook his head, saying, “give it to someone that needs it more.”

I wonder how many of us in similar circumstances would be so giving and so forgiving. He soldiers on with nothing but hope and perseverance and will. And good cheer. Could I have the same things to offer? I wonder.

I wish good luck to Billy. He deserves it more than most I think.