It’s easy to give a generic weight to a person who doesn’t have a permanent roof over their head, but that doesn’t tell you their story.
That’s because each experience is personal, and there isn’t one simple path to becoming homeless.
However, similar to any school, workplace or social event — there are jerks among the crowd, and that includes to each other.
It’s only when you get to know them that you find out what caliber of character they possess.
Tracy Gillespie, 47, grew up on the South End of St. Joseph, and said he’s been homeless for three months, “this go around.”
Gillespie scheduled a meet-and-greet with some of his friends and News-Press NOW outside of the old police station located next to The Crossing Outreach Ministry’s Emergency Shelter.
Greg Filardo owns the property and allows them to use the shade, because they clean up after themselves and are friendly to one another.
Hailaie Fletchall, 20, is a native of St. Joseph and attended all three high schools in town. She said of the three she preferred Lafayette High School. She’s been homeless in the area for three months.
“We’re all not bad people, you know, we care about everyone,” Fletchall said. “I care about all these people, you know, sometimes they might, like, make us mad or whatever. But these people are like our families.”
Vincent Bush, 18, lived in Lathrop, Missouri, for six years, and came to St. Joseph in February.
Israel Alsbury, 21, is from Chillicothe, Missouri. He walked to St. Joseph after he ran out of time living at the 30-day shelter there, and didn’t have money to pay rent.
“I’ve pretty much seen it all, and I’m finally starting to get back up on my feet,” Alsbury said.
Lisa Swett, 51, has been homeless for eight years. Prior to that she was working at a Toys R Us in Independence, Missouri. She has a dog named Delilah Gene and hopes to find housing for the two of them some day.
She admits that alcohol is her vice in life, and said it also helps her sleep at night.
“Once we get up out of here, then we can start working on the addiction problem,” Swett said.
John Wright, 65, was evicted from his apartment and has been homeless for two months. He uses a cane to get around, and has been on disability since he was 39. He has spent time working as a cook or doing lawn care.
“Born and raised in this messed-up town,” Wright said. “North End — went to school here all my life, and lived here most of my life.”
Gillespie said not having a place to store their belongings is a thing that has held some of his friends back from finding work. He said there is a fear that a potential employer may look down on them, because typically employees don’t carry all their possessions with them at all times. Sometimes all those things fit snugly inside two bags.
Even talking about the possibly of having access to Wi-Fi, or temporary phone service for their cellphones made the group of six smile at the prospect.