This is Shannon

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

This is Shannon

I noticed Shannon panhandling just outside the Whole Foods Market in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC. This is a very busy spot during the morning rush hours but Shannon was being ignored by almost everyone who passed by, making her one of the invisible ones. Shannon says she's been living on the streets of Washington, DC for over 10 years. She came to DC from Annapolis, Maryland with a boyfriend who is now in prison and has been homeless ever since. Shannon's lack of shelter is complicated by her addiction problems. She has a noticeable tremor which she says is due to alcohol withdrawal. Shannon is no stranger to detox programs but cannot manage to stay clean and sober. She was recently beaten and raped while staying at a shelter. You can see the wound on her forehead in the photograph. It is for this reason that she prefers to sleep on the street where it is safer. Shannon is a pleasant and affable woman who is not aggressive with her panhandling. She sits quietly, with her tattered cardboard sign asking for whatever help a passerby cares to give. She agreed to this photograph in exchange for a bottle of water and something to eat. If you know or see someone like Shannon, stop for a minute and ask if you can help in someway. You'll both be better off for having had that conversation. 

This is Kim

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

This is Kim

I met Kim on a busy street corner near the Farragut Square Metro station in Washington, DC. She was sitting quietly up against a building holding an empty paper cup in an attempt to collect donations. Kim is a friendly and affable woman who has been homeless and living on the streets of DC for about ten years. She was formerly a nurse but lost her credentials due to severe problems with drugs and alcohol. She tells me she has been clean and sober for two years and is hopeful that this time, she will stay that way. Kim is a good example of someone who previously was a productive member of society that through her own poor choices caused her life to spiral out of control. She would be the first to tell you that and is only looking for a chance to get back on her feet. It is very difficult for women who are living without shelter for all of the obvious reasons. For Kim and other recovering substance abusers, it is even more difficult because of the easy availability of drugs and alcohol on the street. I have a great deal of admiration and respect for people who persevere with maintaining their sobriety under these circumstances. If you know Kim or someone like her, stop and have a conversation. Ask how they are doing and if you can help in some way. I guarantee that you'll both be better off for having had that experience.