This is Richard

Another installment of "The Invisible Ones" of Washington, DC

I met Richard outside of an office building early one morning just before Christmas. It appeared he had slept in a small alcove near the entrance. Richard has no possessions other than the clothes he is wearing which are badly in need of washing. He has shoes but no socks. When I asked Richard how he was doing and if he needed anything, it became clear that he also had some serious mental health issues. He spoke only in a soft whisper and it was almost impossible to make sense of anything that he said. I was able to learn that he had not eaten recently so I bought him some food and a coffee for which he was grateful. This allowed me to explain the photography project and get his agreement to allow me to make this photograph. Interestingly, he recognized the camera brand that I use and was interested in seeing it more closely. Beyond that there is little I can say about Richard other than he is badly in need of shelter and mental health services. I will make the programs that I work with in DC aware of him and hopefully their outreach teams will be able to make a connection. There are far too many men and women like Richard living without shelter in Washington, DC. Should you see any of them as you head back to work this week, stop for a moment and ask if you can help in some way. At the very least just say hello. I guarantee you'll both be the better for the experience.

This is Sky

Another installment of "The Invisible Ones" of Washington, DC

I have seen Sky on several previous occasions. I should say, I've seen a pile of tattered blankets and a plastic tarp with what appeared to be a person underneath asleep. I came by this location later in the morning and found Sky to be awake and passively panhandling. She has two small dogs as her companions that did not come out from beneath the blankets. Sky tells me that she has been living on the streets of Washington, DC for almost two years and hopes to get back to Colorado where she is from. That would be the last bit of reality-based conversation that we would have. Any further questions from me were met with rambling, delusional comments about how she designed and built many of the buildings in DC, including the Kennedy Center. When asked about family or contact with Social Service agencies in DC, she just looks away and then reverts to a more delusional conversation. Sky does not appear to have any belongings beyond what she is wearing and supplies for the dogs which come from benefactors who pass by her location. It is always interesting that persons who are homeless with pets always seem to have more benefactors than those without. Sky's location at 1st & M Streets in the trendy NOMA neighborhood of Washington, DC puts her right in the middle of several upscale apartment buildings, a food market,  numerous restaurants and many dog owners who I'm sure are concerned for her pets. While all of this works to Sky's advantage, she is still living on the street, suffering from what appears to be a serious mental illness and, for the most part, is invisible to hundreds of people who pass her by every day.