Person First Project is a photo blog that seeks to give those currently or formerly experiencing homelessness in D.C. the chance to share their stories. In doing this, we hope to reduce the barriers that separate people in D.C. and spark a dialogue. The Person First Project aims to connect us – and to make us all feel a bit more human.
Author’s Note: George was interviewed near Central Union Mission near Massachusetts Ave. and New Jersey Ave. NW.
“I believe it’s depression. I have family members who are diagnosed with it so I’m pretty sure I have that same spirit. But I try not to go to the doctors because I don’t want to be prescribed medication, because I see what it does to my family. It makes them zombies. All they want to do is sleep all day. I don’t want to be that way. So I try to cope with it, to go through it, but sometimes it’s just so heavy. I just can’t. I end up self-destructing.
It’s pretty much ups and downs. From what I’ve read, it’s called manic. You’re up and you’re ready to do things and you want to do things. I get that way, and I get to work and I love my job. I never have any complaints about my job, I love working. But then all of the sudden I feel like I become anti-social. I don’t want to be around people. I get upset, I get angry, so I just separate myself. And that’s when I stop going to work, and I just hide in a cave for a few months.
I worked in food service for about 11 years, and then I started getting into construction. I did a little bit of courier service. I do all kinds of stuff. I do whatever people don’t want to do, I’ll do it. The last job I had was in an oil field. It was pipe inspection. It was a good job, a great job. But I just – boom, all of the sudden I didn’t want to be around anybody.”
Author’s Note: I included three posts and three photos to help better tell George’s full story.
“I’m from San Antonio, Texas and I’m headed to New York City. I’m on a walking journey, looking for some change. I have a mom, a dad, a sister, a brother. I have two children. I have a bunch of aunts and uncles.”
Why did you leave?
“I felt like I was a burden to them. I felt I was more a bum back home than I am out here in the streets.
Men, we want to be able to take care of ourselves and our families. That’s what I want. I want to be able to hold a family together.
I have a son, he’s 12 years old now. His name is Murphy. And I have a daughter named Iris. I call her duck. She’s about a year and six months now. She just started walking a few months ago, so she’s going crazy. I get to see her because I can use Wi-Fi on my phone. My sister is taking care of her right now, so she sends me little clips and photos of her. And her mom sends me stuff too.
I walk around and I see families, and I see men with their kids and I wonder: How do they hold it together? That’s what I want.”
“I stay on the street. I stay outside. I don’t go into shelters because I’m on the highway and I keep a field knife on me, and you don’t take those into the shelters. So usually I just stay on the street – under bridges, on the side of the road, in the woods, on the side of abandoned buildings. I don’t like to go inside because that’s trespassing.
I just try to stay away from people because I don’t like to make people feel uncomfortable. I try to find a dark spot where I can just hunker down.”