The December issue of Frederick Magazine featured a story very close to my heart. It also featured a rather surprising development, my debut as a writer. The latter was a lot more nerve wracking than taking the pictures as I don’t feel that I am a writer, but I know a lot of very good writers.
The article focused on members of the Frederick Homeless, a community that I had begin to learn and develop an empathy through volunteering over the course of the year. There is an incredible support infrastructure from access to cooked food, food banks, showers and basic needs here so many homeless are not as obvious as in other cities. The last count showed 285 full time homeless on the streets of our small town, and over 600 children without full time homes.
Instead of focusing on a fix, or pointing fingers at the issue I wanted to show each person featured as a human being, someone with hopes, dreams and struggles in their own words. The hope and desire being an empathy for those in need be being able to see their eyes, not someone we can easily turn away from on a street. An early interview with Tommy Skaggs of Frederick Rescue Mission to gain an understanding produced a quote that made a huge impact. The greatest pain felt by the homeless is not the pangs of hunger, or the bite of a cold night, but the rejection by us. A feeling of being worthless as we turn away, averting our eyes in fear. They have a lot more fear of us than we have of them.
One of the pictures did not have an accompanying story, yet it is one of hope, that the street is not a final destination.
“Terry returned to the Frederick area late last year to attempt a reconciliation with his wife. When that didn’t pan out the way he had hoped he found himself on the street in mid winter. Not a man to accept defeat gracefully he started to fight his way back. Having spent a life in construction he was used to hard work, and finding it. Through working whenever and wherever he could, from installing flooring, to framing to construction odd jobs he worked his way up from the street, first staying in a friend’s garden shed, to couch surfing and on the day we met being able to rent a small basement room with a cot bed. “I never thought I would be homeless, but you work, and work some more. You don’t get given anything, but each day you get up, go out and work some more and day by day it gets a little bit better”