“My name is Anthony. I was born, raised and educated in a little town in Louisiana called Natchitoches. My dad was a construction worker and a gambler. He and my mom separated when I was just a kid. My mom worked hard to make ends meet for my brothers and sisters. She even did men’s work sometimes.
After high school I enrolled in college. I attended Southern University then Louisiana State University in Shreveport. I majored in Electrical Engineering for a long time, but switched to Business Management just before my senior year.
I didn’t graduate. I found a good job, then lost it while I was still in school. About this time I found myself in a downspin. I wound up in prison after I did not finish a deferred probation that was unfairly adjudicated. I stayed for two years.
Later, while in prison for another charge, I finished my college degree–graduating from Tarleton College in Stephenville, Texas. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has a program for inmates who want to take college courses. I took advantage of that.
Following prison the second time, I went to Waco, Texas. While there I learned I was not prepared to adequately cope with life. So I moved to Austin, hoping I’d do better there.
Last year I got hit by a car, injuring both legs, my right shoulder, my neck, and my back. I had some bleeding on the brain. The Medical Assistance Program (MAP) covered my medical expenses. I am still recovering, or trying to.
Being homeless is not easy. It’s a hard way to live. Things don’t get better; it’s a constant struggle just getting along from day to day, living on practically nothing except the kindness of strangers; trying to stay warm in the winter and cool in the hot summers; finding a place to sleep; just having enough to eat. So it’s understandable that homeless people are severely depressed and have just given up on life. I was one of them.
But recently, my fortunes changed. I met Steven Hebbard outside a coffee house near Riverside and Congress in Austin. Steven told me about Mobile Loaves and Fishes, explaining that I could make some money, if I wanted, by working with other volunteers—homeless and otherwise—in Mobile Loaves and Fishes’ Genesis Gardens.
I’ve been working in the Mobile Loaves and Fishes Genesis Gardens Program for awhile now. I like it. The food we grow helps feed Austin’s homeless people. I get paid a small stipend for my work, more for working double shifts. That’s money for food and other essentials. There’s no shelter for me yet, but Steven said there is a future project, a village for the homeless, that might offer that. Right now I stay at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH), a homeless shelter in Austin.
I am trying to get out of being a homeless person. I want to show up, and not be absent any longer. It’s hard to do. But my work with Mobile Loaves and Fishes is getting me closer to where I’d like to be. Mobile Loaves and Fishes has been the ship for me, like the ship that carried George Washington to victory in the Revolutionary War.
While the work at Mobile Loaves and Fishes helps me feed my body, it also feeds my self esteem. It’s not just the physical work. I feel free to express my ideas for bettering the gardens I work in, making them even more productive food sources for Austin’s homeless population. That feeds my creativity. And in spite of being homeless for so long, I still care about people. At Mobile Loaves and Fishes I get to work with others in my same situation, talk with them. Maybe, over time, we’ll find ways to help one another. In the meantime, it’s mutually supportive to be working side by side with them to help others like ourselves.
I believe that Mobile Loaves and Fishes provides the synergy to help not only homeless people, but also the community at large.”
Click on the leaf heart to support Anthony and other folks transitioning from a life on the streets.