Whether we are aware of it or not, we all know people who used to be homeless. We all know people who will be homeless. It could even be us. It’s interesting to ponder on the people who have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.
The life of a recently deceased millionaire computer genius Steve Jobs had a precarious beginning, as described by Ivana Kvesic:
Jobs ultimately decided to drop out of Reed College and did so because he trusted that ‘it would all work out ok.’ However, during this process, Jobs became homeless. As a Reed drop out, Jobs did not have a dorm room and slept on the floor of his friends’ dormitories. Being a homeless and unemployed student required Jobs to return coke bottles to earn money for food and walk seven miles across town to get a free meal once a week at the Hare Krishna temple.
British author Colin Wilson was one of the “angry young men,” the creative yet alienated generation whose influence led to what we call the Sixties. After the 1956 publication of The Outsiders, he was recognized as the foremost philosopher of phenomenological existentialism, and went on to a prolific career as a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Before The Outsiders, he was just another young bum, by night sleeping rough in one of London’s parks, by day working on his manuscript in the reading room of the British Museum.
Vietnam veteran and multi-book author Bruce Goldwell was homeless in Los Angeles for more than nine years. He is quoted as saying,
To have gone from living in an alley behind Dennis Hopper’s house to now having a book published in another country felt like such a different direction for me. I was no longer falling deeper into despair but climbing the ladder to a whole new level of success.
In the November 2005 issue of Smithsonian Magazine (which is not online), Roy Rowan profiled photographer Gordon Parks as one of the 35 people who made a difference in the world. When Parks was 16, his mother died, and he stayed only a short time with his sister before, as Rowan says,
Her hard-boiled husband soon kicked him out of the house, forcing Gordon to spend his nights riding trolley cars back and forth… and scrounging food to continue going to high school.
Today, thousands and thousands of kids are in that kind of situation, and not all of them are so lucky in finding places to spend the night. (Incidentally, Ben Franklin, whose portrait is on the $100 bill, was a 17-year-old runaway.)
After his first self-produced stage play failed, Tyler Perry called his car home, or inhabited a succession of hotel rooms rented by the week. As an actor, writer, director, and producer in movies and TV — and doing it his way every step of the way — Perry went on to become one of the wealthiest African-Americans in show business, said to have a net worth of about $350 million.
Other current celebrities who were once homeless include Halle Berry, Sylvester Stallone, William Shatner, Hilary Swank, and Jim Carrey. A documentary film called Dressed was made about fashion designer Nary Manivong, formerly a homeless abandoned child. Athlete James Jones grew up in shelters. Mark Bittner, whose life was documented in The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, spent 15 years on the street. The list goes on and on.
At AngelFire.com, someone has taken the trouble to compile a list of “Noted Individuals Who Have Experienced Homelessness” — 182 of them, including Charlie Chaplin, Sally Jesse Raphael, Cary Grant, David Letterman, “Colonel” Harland Sanders, Martin Sheen, Shania Twain, Dr. Phil, The Road to Wealth author Suze Orman, and Gautama Buddha.
You are invited to learn more about the Homeless Protected Class Resolution, a document that could impact the life of someone you love.
Source: “Steve Jobs: From Homeless Drop-Out to Innovative Millionaire,” Christian Post, 10/08/11
Source: “Vietnam Veteran Turned Homeless Veteran Turned International Author,” PRLog, 03/13/11
Source: “Dressed, a Doc on Fashionista Nary Manivong, Gets Snagged on Cliches,” The Village Voice, 02/02/11
Source: “Noted Individuals Who Have Experienced Homelessness,” AngelFire, 10/01/11
Image by Kedume (David Alcubierre), used under its Creative Commons license.