This is James

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

This is James

I met James in a small park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of NE Washington, DC. When asked how he was doing, he said he was very glad to see that the inauguration and all of the demonstrations have gone away and he could return to his normal outdoor sleeping place in this park. He says that the police were very determined to keep the entire area clear of street people during these events but now it's back to normal. James has been living on the streets of DC without shelter for a little more than six years. He spent the previous 10 years incarcerated at a Federal Penitentiary in Kentucky. Upon release, he left with no money and only his personal belongings. He managed to get back to DC but discovered that everyone he had known previously was gone so he was on the streets where he has been ever since. Like so many people who are incarcerated for a long period of time, there is very little done to support their transition back to society and they either become recidivists or flounder in a society that they are no longer a part of. James is willing and able to do manual labor, he cannot get a job because of his prison record. He chooses to sleep outdoors because of the dangers that the city shelters present. The last thing he wants to do is get into a fight, protecting his property and end up back in jail. He says with a smile that, "the courts are not kind to ex-cons from the Fed system."

James is a friendly and approachable man who does reasonably well panhandling. He was quite interested in the Invisible Ones project and offered to help me find other men and women who would be willing to participate. I may well take him up on that offer. James agreed to this photograph in exchange for a small monetary contribution. If you see James or know someone like him, stop for a moment and have a conversation. Ask if you can help out in someway. I guarantee that you'll both be better off having had that experience.

This is Willie-Satchel

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

This is Willie-Satchel, named after the famous baseball pitcher, Satchel Paige. Willie is quick to tell you that his mother was a big baseball fan. I met Willie while he was sitting on a Capitol Hill park bench passively panhandling. Willie is a happy man this morning as he just received word that he is now on a waiting list for housing. It's been a long ten years he says but good people here have kept me going. Willie is hopeful that the housing will come through before the really cold weather sets in. As with so many men and women who are living without shelter literally within a few blocks of  our nation's capitol building, the irony is inescapable. They sit invisibly huddled against the elements with the backdrop of wealth and power that simply ignores them day in and day out. Surely we can do better. If you see Willie-Satchel on Capitol Hill be sure and say hello and ask him about his namesake. You both will be better for the experience. Willie was kind enough to pose for this photograph in exchange for a food voucher and a bottle of water.

This is Charles

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

This is Charles Purcell, a man who has been homeless in Washington, DC for the past year. Charles is a remarkable man. You can see for yourself if you stop to take the time to speak with him which I highly recommend you do. You can find him at North Capitol St.& Massachusetts Ave. in Washington, DC. Charles is a well spoken and passionate advocate for the homeless. Unlike me, he walks the walk everyday rather than just writing about it. I find that level of street cred to be extraordinary. Charles has a FB page, Homeless United which he uses to both raise awareness about people who are homeless in DC and to connect to another page where he is raising money to distribute Raising Awareness tee shirts to people who are homeless in DC. His vision being a small army of men and women all wearing a tee shirt such as the one he has in this photo. That would be something worth seeing. You can help him out by visitinghttp://www.gofundme.com/homelessmatter

This is Desmond

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

This is Desmond

This is Desmond

I met Desmond in the neighborhood of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. He was standing on a busy street corner panhandling without much success in spite of the busy morning rush of commuters. Desmond tells me he has been homeless since being released from prison two years ago. He will be on parole for another twelve years which will be especially difficult as his parole officer will expect him to have a place to live and a job. Desmond has family in DC but says that living with any of them is not an option due to his "behavior issues." He was not willing to say what that was about. Desmond either sleeps outdoors or finds a space in a church shelter near by. The church shelter fills up early so he usually end up in a local park. Desmond is a affable and friendly man who sadly cannot translate that into his panhandling activity so he makes very little money. He was agreeable to this photograph in exchange for a monetary donation. Desmond is will most likely remain invisible among crowds of office workers and tourists visiting the Capitol this Summer.