Meet Bless: Homeless But Staying Cheerful–In Most Dire Circumstances

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NASIR RAZA — Serving lunch to the homeless at St Vincent de Paul’s. It was a Saturday .. and I was really looking forward to going to the St Vincent de Paul’s facility in downtown Phoenix and serve lunch to the homeless … As usual I chose to be a busboy … the task is simple: keep the tables and floor clean with a moist rag … I like this particular task because it provides the opportunity to get close to these folks and ask how they’re doing and if I could get them anything … usually everyone is very polite but once in a while you encounter people who are emotionally disturbed and one just learns to be a calming presence or get help … but I digress.

With Bless … bereft of arms, and with almost nothing at all except an ever present smile.

This particular day, someone asked where the restrooms were? I went around the hallway and found them in a remote corner … which was okay … but they were out of order … which was definitely not okay … so I asked the organizers and was told there were some outside in another building … I went out to see for myself …

Volunteers and experienced folks cater to the needs of the homeless.

Meeting Bless amongst the Homeless outside the St Vincent de Paul Building

Outside, I saw homeless people being treated or just idling in the parklike area … alone or in small groups. I walked into them.

The homeless idle in this parklike area.

Almost immediately I saw Bless sitting on a picnic table bench with all his belongings on it or on the side. Noticing me noticing him, he invited me over. There was a whole pumpkin pie on the table. During our conversation, many times he offered me the pumpkin pie. I declined each time.

Bless’ story:

What struck me initially is that one of Bless’s hands was missing. Looking some more I saw the second hand missing too!
Apparently he had lost them as a child …

So I was intrigued and Bless had my full attention and he was so friendly that he talked and I listened … standing/leaning against a tree and enjoying the wintry 🌞 sunshine!

Bless was from Kentucky. His parents died a short while ago and he came to Phoenix to take care of their simple house. Arriving, he found it totally trashed and so for a whole year he has been homeless while fixing this house. Lacking money and resources, Bless has had to struggle …

Bless talked about his home state Kentucky and his eyes lit up. A smile and grin never left his face. He said …
– the grass was really blue (google says bluish purple spring buds give rich blue cast to the green grass!).
– The women are the most beautiful – both black and white as they were raised well! They win the beauty pageants all the time! I said I’d check it out on google 🙂.
– 195 proof moonshine (historically high proof illicit distilled liquor/whiskey made from corn) was clearer than the water in the bottle on the picnic table.
– “Hollows” is a depressed area which would start as a road and then dip down into a large cavern or hole hundreds of feet deep; these hollows were all over Kentucky! Again I said I’d check it on google!
– Muhammad Ali was from Kentucky and has many buildings and places named after him.

Happily, Bless rambled on about Kentucky…

Then a call from Zebi cut short this visit, and I left with a distinctive feeling that Bless is not just homeless but very homesick as well.

Nasir Raza is a Pakistani-American professional residing in Arizona.

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