We’d like to introduce you to some of the people we’ve had to pleasure of meeting this winter when we were in Los Angeles with 530 Shelterbags from our social factory in Cape Town.
“I smile to keep from crying.” A good soul in a sour spot. Larry recently lost his eye when he was jumped next to his car, which he’s been living in for the past 8 months. A few days later he was attacked by a pit bull on the street, which shook him up even more. Still, he has the most positive attitude towards life and helping those around him. Larry knows everyone, and everyone knows Larry.
A few days after we met he told us it was time for him to move on. He gave his car away to a friend sleeping outside and packed up his stuff.
“A kind personality will get you far in life.”– Larry
Ron (67) has a car he sleeps in himself but asked us for a Shelterbag to give to a lady he knows. “Her name is Caroline, she’s 50 years old. I see her running around in the street.”
Ron helps out his unhoused neighbors as much as he can. He lets people charge their phones in his car, and he drives around food to people he knows who are not as mobile.
“It’s a big rat race trying to pay rent or motel rooms, so I just stay in my front seat.”– Ron
James, (nickname JamesBrains because everyone knows he’s super smart) is from upstate New York. People around told me James used to be a pretty successful artist living in New York. Now he prefers to be disconnected and only owns what he can carry on his bike.
“I ended up homeless on the street in New York. I rode to San Luis on my bike in 3 months. At some point, I thought I was somebody. You know, the ego thing. But I completely checked out from society. I decided I’m gonna be happy.”– James
When we talked to Wendell (49), he had just moved into his own room with the help of St. Francis Center. “I don’t have to look over my shoulder there, no people that are gonna turn on me. It feels good. I’m trying to move on after this, but I’m taking one day at a time.
My lowest point was probably sleeping in cars. That was like a soul changer. It really scared me. My family turned their back on me, that was heartbreaking. I was sitting in parks because I didn’t know where to go.
The older I’m getting, the wiser I’m getting. I’m starting to see who’s in my corner. And just try to do the right thing, and good things will happen. Trying to stay positive, don’t let the world bring me down spiritually. I look in the mirror and say it’s gonna get better. Stay on that good road, not the bad road.
Every day, just trying to move on.”
With your periodic donation, we can continue to produce sustainable Sheltersuits, create more jobs and offer warmth and dignity to the most vulnerable people.
For this ongoing project, we engage with unhoused communities in various cities. The intimate documentary reflects the unraveling of society and exposes the equal measures of strength and vulnerability of each of its characters.
By capturing these raw moments in a new light, we challenge the mainstream representation of a growing, forgotten group. It reminds us that people who experience homelessness should neither be labeled nor disregarded. Everyone has a story to tell.