Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Homeless in Oklahoma City, OK: Erin

Words and Images by Al Griffin

I found Erin standing outside a day-labor center at the edge of the parking lot. Like others nearby, he wore a bright colored vest to identify him as available through the temp agency system. Even though he lives on the street, he picks up work many days through the agency. 

Erin said he came from Lawton in Southwest Oklahoma, but was born in Germany. He has never had a real home since reaching adulthood. He has no family left and seems to have adjusted to his plight. 

I have no statistical evidence to offer, but in my experience, I have found more and more young people living on the street in the last few years. In 1995 I started regularly seeking out and visiting with those living on the street in large cities from Atlanta to New York to Seattle and even Vancouver, B.C. Although completely anecdotal in nature, my observations indicate a downward trend in the age of homeless individuals in America.

If I can’t imagine a person such as an itinerate farm laborer living the last few years of his life in the bitter circumstances of street life, how can I begin to fathom the long endless years from childhood to old age faced by the Erins of the world?

Can he rise above the reality of his circumstances?

Yes, many do so.

Will he succeed?

I hope he does. He is not afraid to work based upon his willingness to put himself out there every day for the agency. And he does make some money on an occasional basis. 

Full or part-time employment usually requires transportation, permanent residency, and reliable communication by phone. The old adage that it takes money to make money does not just apply to the wealthy entrepreneur starting a new business. Just getting a job requires the means to hold that job day to day and earn the trust of the employer that the long-term investment in this employee will pay off for both parties. Reliability requires character first, but also resources. 

Erin seems to have enough character to succeed based upon my observations. I hope he can gain the resources to find that real job for which he searches.


Note: This blog will retire at the end of 2014. We are grateful to those of you who have read posts and especially grateful to those of you who've commented or liked these posts. Look for Al Griffin's thoughts and images about homelessness in the U. S. on Google+. Connye Griffin continues to write and critique at My Writing and Editing Coach on Blogspot.