Man Goes Above and Beyond to Help Homeless Immigrant
Lifestyle| | By Valerie Cools
When it comes to helping homeless people, direct, personal contact and initiative can be most effective, as the story of Adam August and Tarec Atkinson shows.
August, a 28-year-old tech sales representative from San Francisco, had seen Atkinson, 37, several times around his local Starbucks. The man appeared to be homeless, and after some hesitation, August approached him and invited him to lunch.
As they ate, August got to know Atkinson’s story. He was born in Jamaica, he had moved to the U.S. a few years ago, and had been living in a tent next to a highway for the past year.
“Tarec goes days without eating, sometimes living off of the berries he picks, he spends 90 percent of his time alone and has no friends and no family in the states,” August wrote in a post on Quora.
August decided to further help Atkinson. He took him to his apartment and let him use his shower, and then offered to buy Atkinson some clothes and drive him around to help him find a job.
“The more we talked, the more he showed me he wanted to help me help myself,” Atkinson told California television station KTVU.
As August accompanied Atkinson to various businesses, he saw firsthand how difficult it is for homeless people to escape their situation. For example, most businesses only accepted online applications, which isn’t as simple as it may seem to those of us who are used to having unlimited access to the internet.
“Let me tell you something. We take our computer literacy for granted,” August wrote. “Watching him struggle to fill out an application put so much into perspective for me. Some people judge our homeless. We’ve all heard someone say, ‘Why don’t they just get a job?’ or ‘They’re lazy.’ I saw firsthand how the ‘system’ is set up to fail people like Tarec. There is no way he could have been able to do any of this without my help.”
August and Atkinson’s efforts paid off when, two weeks later, Atkinson landed an interview at Safeway and got a job stocking produce. But the story doesn’t end so simply. The men lost touch over the next few months, during which Atkinson lost his job.
“Holding a job when you sleep in a tent and can’t shower every day isn’t a recipe for success,” August told New York television station WABC. “I didn’t appreciate that fact a few months ago. I do now.”
So August is now trying to help Atkinson in a more permanent way. He has started a Gofundme page, and hopes to raise $25,000 for his friend, enough for Atkinson to have a roof over his head while he rebuilds his life. $8,000 have been raised so far, and thousands have expressed support and encouragement for Atkinson.
“The love and concern that strangers have shown a man they’ll probably never meet is beyond words,” August wrote on the fundraiser page. “I recently spent an evening with Tarec reading your comments to him. I wish you could’ve seen his face light up. To say your words mean the world to him would be a vast understatement. For a man that has practically nothing, the sense of pride and importance that YOU have given him can’t ever be taken away.”
There have been several cases of successful fundraising for people who are homeless or down on their luck. Hopefully August’s efforts, in combination with help from associations, will help Atkinson get off the streets permanently.
Your Daily Dish reached out to August for a comment.