By: Chris Miller
Zachary Harper (left) and Andre Sims represent the different generations of men we met at a local homeless shelter, each with his own unique story.
Every night in the Akron area, 800 people are uncertain of where they lay their head at night, and as winter approaches, the bitter cold will makes this struggle for shelter even more significant for our area’s homeless population.
We interviewed a number of men at a local homeless shelter, and many of them spoke about the positive side of their situations. Like Zachary Harper, who’s been on dialysis for 14 years. Harper, 56, said he was thankful for the shelter’s proximity to downtown hospitals, and he’s also thankful his experience at the shelter has helped him to better appreciate his life.
Andre Broom, 52, is no longer homeless, but he often returns to the Haven of Rest Ministries to help others who are in a similar situation. Eric (below) says he doesn’t drink or do drugs, but ended up in a homeless shelter because of finances. Photos: Dale Dong
Jim is a homeless Vietnam vet who’s trapped in a Catch 22. He gets a pension each month, but due to extreme pain, he self-medicates using heroin, although he clarifies that he’s not strung out. And because he tests positive for illegal drugs, he can’t receive any pain management treatment through his veterans’ benefits. So he self-medicates and the cycle continues.
“They won’t manage my pain because I’m a drug addict,” says Jim (who requested that we not publish his real name due to some of his admitted activities). He gets his check each month, finds a hotel room for a week or two, then runs out of money and returns to the streets. And to places like a local homeless shelter, where we had the opportunity to speak with him and a number of residents.