Skid row…. definition…. A run-down part of a town frequented by vagrants, alcoholics, and drug addicts. An unfortunate or difficult situation (definition acquired from Google Dictionary). Basically, a place filled with people who’ve hit rock bottom (definition from Major Robert of the Salvation Army Southern California).This is where I found myself this past November while at BWELA. When we were told that Mark Horvath (of Invisible People), along with Hanes and the Salvation Army Southern California were going to be handing out socks to homeless living on Los Angeles’ skid row…. we were ready to go meet up with them. Socks may seem trivial, but if you think about it, without socks your feet would be in pretty bad shape. To individuals who don’t even know where their next meal is going to come from, socks are huge.When we arrived, we were introduced to people from both organizations. I actually really wanted to photograph the entire experience, so I asked if it would be ok to take pictures. Major Robert, seeing I was a bit nervous, really kinda took me under his wing and led me around introducing me to people and educating me on different aspects of the work being done with L.A.’s homeless. I remember one thing he said to me very clearly…. that what these people crave is human touch, to not be afraid to take their hand. As I walked with him and met the faces of L.A.’s Skid Row, I was the one who was touched.There was Reginald….Lisa and Yolanda….Jerry, a former U.S. Marine….Brandy (who seemed so bubbly and full of life, ready to pose for the camera)….Jose, who gave me the thumb’s up as he waited in line for his socks and sack lunch….Willie….and then there was Dee, who had no shoes but proudly wore her new Hanes socks, as if they were her most precious possession.Finally, there was Annette, who is not homeless, but a volunteer whose story is so amazing. I could feel the passion behind her desire to help in any way she could. She left her job in corporate real estate and had volunteered for the past 3 months. As she told me her story, she basically related how meaningless the money was and how important this work is to her now. She hopes to work with the Salvation Army in the future but for now volunteers.Mark Horvath says something that I’ll never forget. Think about this the next time you’re driving down the street and see someone who’s at the “Skid Row” point of their life…. Homeless has a name. That pretty much sums it all up…. they have a name….they’re real people in need of that human touch, a helping hand that’ll give them even an inkling of hope. In the process, even though they may be the ones who are given a helping hand…. we may be the ones whose lives are touched forever.
(Disclosure: Thank you to Mark Horvath, Hanes, and Salvation Army Southern California for making this volunteer effort possible. Thank you to Collective Bias and Murphy USA for allowing us to go and help.)