“Hey can I get one? Y’all giving out presents?”
This is how I first met Belo, he approached me under the subway at 16th and Market. To be honest, I had to check my prejudice immediately because at first glance I would not have known what he was experiencing. This young man had on stylish glasses, jeans, boots, a sweatshirt and a denim jacket and was carrying a book bag; he looked very nice (not even just okay…he looked nice). I gave him the bag and said “yes you can if you need it”, and told him what was in it. He said “there’s a lot more people upstairs if you need people to give stuff to; they are all right near the elevator”.
Then I asked him his story.
“My name is Belo, B-E-L-O. I am 23 years old and I don’t have a home. Most people wouldn’t know by looking at me. I’ve been told I’m the cleanest looking homeless person people have ever seen. My parents taught me that. I moved here from the islands, and I was homeless for a while as a child.”
“It’s really nice that you’re doing this for your birthday. Most people don’t do that.”