Jacob "Treat Everybody Like Family"

Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

I’m originally from Lake of the Ozarks, in Missouri I moved in order to go to college and also to be reunited with my Mom - I’m adopted. So I moved up here without talking to her - I hadn’t talked to her for like seven or ten years I think. So I wanted to see her, see how she was doing. Next thing I knew, I’m moving out of my foster parents’ area and moving up here to live with her. We try to take care of each other.

What led to my homelessness? I would say mistakes. I would say I haven't had the best choices but I wouldn’t say… my average is no more wrong choices than anybody else, but it happened at a rapid pace and at a wrong time in my life. So I, you know, ended up where I did unfortunately. But that’s just how it can go, I guess.

If I had it to do over, I probably would have gone through the red tape a lot more. Whenever it comes to FAFSA and stuff like that, ‘cause there’s college funding for people who don’t have the money to do it. But it required a lot of - I came from a foster home of fifteen people, so whenever I went to fill it out it needed all kinds of social security numbers, and even though I wasn’t living with my foster parents, I wasn’t considered an independent. I think you’re not considered independent until you’re twenty-one or something. So unfortunately, between the ages of eighteen to twenty-one…I was there when I was twenty, almost there to where things would have been okay, but I messed up and ended up getting a DWI at .036 and there’s a zero tolerance policy because I was a minor at the time. I decided to have one or two beers and drive home and one thing led to another wrong choice, but… just one thing led to another and there are fines, and if you don’t pay your fines you go to jail, then, you know, in and out and in and out from there.

I would say the hardest part about being homeless is using a phone. Something simple like that. It’s just like, it’s not really that big of a deal, but it feels like a huge deal when you have to walk to the other side of town to do laundry at somebody’s house even though they said you can come over and do whatever you need - take a shower, eat, things like that, a place to store my stuff so it I can trust it won’t get stolen. You know, whatever it might be - but then it’s a task. Because I don’t have a car, and then you get there and nobody’s home. And then I have to walk. Just little things in life. I mean, people got things they got to do that doesn't revolve around me. And then people assume when I ask to use their phone that I’m doing a drug deal or that I’m going to steal their phone and that’s not the case. And you know, there’s no pay phones anymore. It’s all expected to be, you know, convenient. And convenient can be all the luxury you can get, but sometimes you have to look at it from the wrong side of the deal.

My advice would be to treat everybody like family. Because that’s the only way you can have a full life. Because life is about relationship. With others and with yourself. So you can keep living.

(Story chronicled in 2017)