One of the many Faces of Homelessness

Ever wondered what its like to experience one of NCH’s Faces Of Homelessness presentations?  Here a long-time supporter describes seeing NCH Board Member Donald Whitehead give a presentation recently in Florida:

They say that clothes make the man. In yesterday’s case the clothes worn by Donald Whitehead certainly made an impression with the students at Spanish River High in Boca Raton, Florida.

Not knowing who he was, all eyes were on the homeless man walking through their campus on the way to the lecture hall. He then took a seat in the front of the auditorium. The kids continued to stare and whisper and ask one another how this street person got on campus and why he was now sitting in their auditorium.

He was then introduced as the speaker. He made his way to the podium and the room went totally silent. In his soft voice Donald began to tell his story. He spoke about his successes and failures; his experiences on the street and in shelters.

Complaining of the heat in the room he began to take off his clothes. The audience was on the edge of their seats not knowing what this homeless man was capable of doing. Absolute amazement as the suit and tie appeared from under his “street wear”. To the students his new clothes represented the progress and successes he has made in his life.

Donald posing with students, and his Emmy

The students asked questions. They were inquisitive about his addiction and the abuse.

Donald said no one is above homelessness. The subject of homeless kids in schools was also discussed as well as the rise of homeless college and graduates living in shelters and on the streets.

Donald’s final point really hit home. The majority of attacks on the homeless are made by high school kids.

All the kids appreciated the visit, gave him a resounding applause and many students came to the stage to shake his hand.

By Jeff Firestone
Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County

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