Justin is a man, but almost a boy, or at least he looks more like a boy when you get up closer. His beard is deceiving, his big worn hands are deceiving, his homeless status is somewhat deceiving. On my first go around, I saw a dark head tilted down into a jutting collarbone, dwarfed by a large cardboard sign that said, "Anything helps" (anything helps, need work, I am trying to pull my life together, please) I made it three stores down before I turned back. When I addressed him with my perky and sunny "Hi" he immediately looked up.
My friend on Union Street is a man named Dave. I have mentioned him before, both in this blog and in conversation, because his life nudges mine.
Today he accompanied me to my bus stop, which was a sweet and gentlemanly gesture, though I think his motivation was more because he did not want our conversation to end. He had just had his cast removed, and he wanted to update me on his leg's progress.
Last week I volunteered at a local nonprofit called New Door Ventures. New Door Ventures provides job-training, employment, and one-on-one support to youth with histories of homelessness, substance abuse, and extreme poverty. In short, NDV gives youth a second chance, and a helping hand in the somewhat formidable job market. My part was simple. I showed up with my Mary Poppins bag of goods and got to work, cutting and styling the hair of the kids involved in the program.