Just a short distance from the posh beaches of Malibu, glittering streets of Hollywood and rich mansions of Beverly Hills, more than 5,000 homeless live on the sidewalks of Los Angeles.
I see the wanderers on daily walks along busy Santa Monica Avenue, where they trod east to downtown LA or west to Pacific Ocean beaches. At night they rest on the sidewalks, on park benches, and in makeshift tents.
Many of the homeless are veterans, some from the most recent wars in the Middle East, as well as elderly vets of earlier wars. Wouldn’t it be a happy miracle if our government decided to spend less money preparing for the next war, and use it to to decare war on the poverty in its streets.
When touring the Sunset Strip and other famous Hollywood locations, in addition to pleasant city landmarks, you’ll encounter these sad sights. If you want to help, consider donating money and/or volunteer time to the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other organizations that provide aid for the homeless.
Along with shoppers, tourists, families, pets and strollers, I encounter others on my daily wanderings through West Hollwyood. Along the sidewalks, just a few city blocks from the glamorous Sunset Strip and posh Beverly Hills, there are the wanderers. Carrying everything they own, they stop to rest and hope kindhearted passers-by will offer cash.
Of course, the money may be used to buy booze and drugs. But maybe some will provide meals or a safe place to spend the night.
Daily wanderings with camera include searching for meaningful people scenes along Santa Monica Boulevard (U.S. Route 66) in West Hollywood. I always seek to capture a moment that has never happened before, nor will ever happen again. I never pose my subjects. Here and in most cases, they’re totally unaware that my camera is pointed at them.
The scene reminds me of artist James McNeill Whistler’s famous portrait of his mother, called Arrangement In Grey and Black No. 1. I can’t help wondering if the tragic figure in my photo is someone’s abandoned mother.
Just steps away from the glamorous Sunset Strip and wealthy Beverly Hills mansions, these wanderers attempt to find peaceful places to rest on their endless journeys. If you’re considering volunteer work, spend some time with lost souls who need your encouragement and compassion.
Hints for helpers: your local church, Salvation Army, Red Cross, homeless shelter, HUD Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS).
When you see a sad wanderer on the street during this happy season, stop for an encouraging chat and to donate a few bucks. If you fear the gift will be used to buy drugs or alcohol, make your contribution to a local homeless shelter, Salvation Army, Red Cross or other charity. Then enjoy a happy holiday season with those you love!
We see them every day along Santa Monica Boulevard, the final miles of America’s Route 66 that end at the Pacific Ocean. Many are on their way to beaches, downtown Los Angeles or just quiet alleys or lawns to spend restful nights.
Friendless, jobless, aimless. When we recognize their ragged clothing and meager posessions, do we ever pause to wonder what the wanderers once were? Happy children, eager students, proud soldiers, loving parents, ambitious workers? We realize then that each in our own way, we are all wanderers. And we pray to ourselves, there but for the grace of God go I.