Photo courtesy of OpenClipart-Vectors / pixabay.com

First, I thank God for all He has rooted in my life and how he has enabled me to go through to get me where I am. To God be the glory for the great things he has done.

Hello Street Sense Media family and readers. Let me introduce to some and present to others. I am the “original” Reginald Denny and there is no other like me, for God created me in his image and in his likeness. I am unique by God’s grace. 

It wasn’t too long ago that I was homeless, living from pillar to post. 

My mom died seven years ago. I was her son and her primary caregiver; she was my all in all. When she left this Earth, it seemed like my entire world cracked into little pieces that I have not put back together. Life as I knew it had totally changed. I lost everything I had,  my life plunged into a downward spiral, and everything was topsy turvey and all out of sync. I had totally given up and was mad at God for taking the only thing that kept me from falling off the deep end.

I found myself going from shelter to shelter, seeking a place to sleep for the night. It got to the point where I would even ride the bus all night instead of staying in shelters because most of them were unsafe and unclean, and my false sense of pride would not allow me to let my church family know what I was going through. I did not want them to know either my plight or my business. So, I continued to live a lie, convincing myself I could do it on my own. 

I began to use mood and mind altering substances to get through these treacherous nights. This was my coping mechanism so I did not have to face the pain of my situation. Eventually the substances were no longer effective at taking my mind off my homelessness.

I had always known of homelessness, seen homeless people pushing carts or carrying several bags everywhere they went, with their tattered and torn clothing. But only when I became homeless did I realize what it was to live an underprivileged lifestyle. There were times when I did not know which way to turn because I did not want people to know my conditions. So, at first I did not ask for help for fear of embarrassment.

For me, homelessness meant that you had to be dirty and downtrodden and destitute. I was living a lie. My scorecard read zero and I was in denial about it. I was so on edge I wanted to just give up and die. 

Shelters were not working anymore. Riding the buses all night got old. Hanging out in places I had no business being and putting myself in harm’s way were not worth it anymore. Psych wards and rehabilitation centers were my new way of living. But at least I was inside, free of the street life and its dangers.

I had lost everything dear to me. All gone due to my irresponsibility and unconcern for true change. Still, I thought as long as I kept a halfway decent job I’d be alright. I was wrong; I had a job but was still homeless. My choices and decisions made me end up unemployed.

Now I had nowhere else to go but back to the streets. I became calloused to any real emotions and wondered why everybody and God had forsaken me and left me out here to just kill myself and die.

But, I had not totally given up, so I figured I’d pull myself up by my own bootstraps and give myself a chance regardless of the unfavorable odds. I thought I’d get some real help, now that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired! 

During my journey through homelessness I sought self-help groups, psychiatric rehabilitation, etc. They helped while in the midst of these sessions. But when the sessions ended, it was back to life as usual: homelessness without a designated place to rest my tired and weary soul. I said to myself, “I’ve got to get myself together.” 

I did not have to live like this anymore. I was realizing I can be whatever my heart, mind, and soul desire and that I am the master of my destiny. Through dangers seen and unseen, I’m still here!!! That’s God’s grace. 

Despite my homelessness at the time, I decided to become an artist/vendor for Street Sense Media, which filled some of the void I was experiencing by being unhoused and gave me my life back. I began to distribute the Street Sense newspaper. I strayed in the beginning but as time went on I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This organization aided in gradually giving me my independence back and I began to build my self-esteem. The distribution of the paper gave me a source of income that helped me care for myself. 

I also became a member of the writer’s group, the illustration group, and the theatrical group. These groups gave me back a sense of belonging and being a part of a whole. I am truly grateful!!!