John "Start Living Again"

  Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

I was born in Neptune, NJ in 1971. I moved here with my family in 1975. We moved to a little town outside of Springfield, twenty-six miles west of Springfield off I-44. I went to school at St. Joseph Catholic school for grade school, then Springfield Catholic for high school.

This last time I was released from the penitentiary December 15th. I was on the streets until March 27th. In between periods of my parole when I would get out of the penitentiary, I would home plant to my mother’s home and start drinking and she would ask me to leave, so I would be out on the streets. So probably a total of a year that I’ve spent on the streets here in Springfield. At different times. The first time I did was in 2012, and then again in 2013, then again in ’14, and then ’15 and ’16.

The hardest part of being homeless was staying warm and fed. But you just gotta keep plugging away. And take the resources offered to you. I learned this as a waiter waiting tables in my twenties - if anyone’s willing to give you something, take it. And there are so many places around Springfield that are willing to help the homeless. With food. One Door with housing. The women have a shelter every night. Just take advantage of things that you can and just keep working because something will happen. You’ll get into a place or they will find you a home, start fresh. I moved into the Salvation Army - I have a roof over my head. It’s a blessing because as soon as I get my medical issues taken care of, I can go look for a job and start living again.

My advice? Just survive, do what you can, and use the blessings that have been given to you.

(Story chronicled in 2017)