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Every day on my way to school I’d pass by one particular homeless man who always greeted me with a smile and a kind word.

John, 47
Incarcerated: 15 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison

Growing up in Southern California, I had seen my fair share of homelessness. Every day on my way to school I’d pass by one particular homeless man who always greeted me with a smile and a kind word. I didn’t understand why he didn’t just go live with family. My nine year old brain couldn’t understand his full plight. One day my childish curiosity got the better of me, on my way past him I asked, “Why are you homeless.” So he told me. Drugs, crime and alcohol led to his position. Yet in his current position he was drug and alcohol free with many years sober. He talked and talked and told me all about his family. He wanted to go home so desperately but he couldn’t face them after all he’d done. So my friendly attitude towards him grew and I took him leftovers and old books. I became friends with Larry and he just talked. One day he said I’d inspired him to give it a try. He was going to go see his grown children and see if there was a place in their lives for him. His parting words to me were, “Thanks for listening kid.” I realized everyone has a story to tell, but is anyone listening?

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