Watching a Sea of Feet
“Sometimes it's easy to walk by because we know we can't change someone's whole life in a single afternoon. But what we fail to realize it that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place.”
― Mike Yankoski
During my first year in the Digital Photography and Imaging Program at Georgian College - we were assigned a project to capture a theme of our choice, i chose Homelessness. Two weeks in a row i drove down to Toronto to try and find the right person to talk to and capture. The first trip, i was going down past the Hockey Hall of Fame when i saw the young gentleman above bundled up outside in one of the storage blocks. I immediately felt drawn to him and i swung a right and pulled into the parking lots. As we made our way back up to the street, i soon realized that he had left his spot. We spent close to 30 minutes walking up and down the side streets seeing if we could find him but no luck.
A few days later i made a trip down to Toronto again and to my surprise, there he was, in the same storage block as i saw him in the first time. Every step I sped up to meet him, i wasn't taking the chance this time that he would leave. As i rounded the corner i was taken aback by the sincerity and hurt and loneliness in his eyes. I contributed some funds to his cup and we began to talk as i started photographing him. He told my brother and i he had been on the streets for 3 years and about 2-3 months ago moved to Toronto from Barrie, where i attend school, Small World!
In that moment i came to the conclusion that i was meant to meet this young gentleman. He humbled me instantly. As we left to continue on our journey i couldn't stop thinking about him, we sat down to eat, and i couldn't take a bite. I had ordered a gourmet burger and fries, the burger marinated in red wine for hours. I felt sick.
I asked the waiter for a to-go plate, paid and left. As i walked back into the street i knew what i needed to do and made my way back down to this boy. My brother and i sat down with him as he devoured the meal i offered him. He could barely speak in between the massive bites he took and the satisfying eating noises he was making. This made my day by just giving him some funds and a meal that you could bring the light back in someones eyes!
I have not seen this gentleman since, although when I'm in Toronto i try to find him. My hopes is that someone does and helps him, not everyone on the streets wants to be there or has a drug or alcohol problem that put them there. Sometimes, people need a little help here and there!