Another installment of The Invisible Ones of Washington, DC
I met Tony while I was walking along 14th Street near Thomas Circle in Washington, DC. He was sitting alone on the sidewalk panhandling with a handmade sign asking for anything that would help. Tony couldn’t recall how long he has been living on the streets of DC without shelter. His best guess was at least ten years. He is missing his left eye. The result of a robbery and a beating he endured several years ago. He also walks with the assistance of a cane due to an injury sustained during the same assault. When asked about his sleeping & eating arrangements he says he gets by on the street and the kindness of strangers. He pointed to his GW Squash jacket as an example. “Someone just took it off and gave it to me last year.” Like so many of DC’s homeless men and women, Tony will not use the city-run shelters because they are seen as dangerous and dirty places. He says that as long as people are kind he feels blessed.
If you see or know someone like Tony that you pass by on your way to and from work, stop and say hello. Inquire as to how they are doing and help out if you can. Just acknowledging their existence allows them to feel less invisible just for a moment.