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A Veteran Pays It Forward

On September 28, Community Liaison Officer Kelly Shay requested Starfish assistance with a homeless veteran who had recently had his bicycle and a few other items stolen. Jim Stewart, who is our Vice President of Homeless Services, readily agreed to meet up with him. Our network of volunteers donated a bicycle and we purchased a heavy duty lock for it, which Jim took to Devin.

The two got along very well. Jim had been homeless himself for six years, only moving into an apartment a few weeks prior to their meeting. Jim took Devin out to lunch and promised to return later in the week to help him get food assistance and a few incidentals that could make his life a bit easier.

Devin thanked Jim profusely and confided that he'd been planning to commit suicide later that day. He had felt that things were hopeless and they were never going to change, so he'd decided to throw himself in the river. Then Jim came along.

Since that day, Jim has visited Devin several times, dropping off items such as a sleeping bag, a tent, a coat, and work boots. Jim helped him to get enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps), and Devin was able to replace his stolen driver's license.

Last Sunday, Devin called Jim to tell him he'd gotten a job. He'll be a substitute truck driver. And this is the basis of Starfish Assignment: a police officer identifies someone in need, Starfish volunteers work to help the person, and the person's life becomes a bit better.

Devin has a long way to go, no question about that. But with the support of Starfish in general and Jim in particular, he's on a path that he didn't think was possible back in September.

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