When he was 12 years old Willie began his first experience in homelessness and more than 20 years later he is still living on the streets. Over the years he has traveled all over the nation staying in Texas, Florida, the Carolinas, New York, Chicago, St Louis and California. To Willie life on the streets is normal and he can hardly imagine a different lifestyle. But with summer coming Willie reflected on the dangers of living on the streets in summer. “In the winter, even criminals don’t want to go outside. But in the summer they will come to where they know the homeless are and rob them or find some way to exploit them.” Violence is normal for those living on the streets; with no air conditioning to keep people cool, tempers are more likely to flare at homeless camps.
Normal homelessness issues like hygiene and health care are exasperated as the heat brings out the worst in humanity and the insect world.
Over the past 20 years Willie has stayed at multiple shelters with some being better than others. Until now he has never taken full advantage of the opportunity for a new life. At Gospel Rescue Mission in Muskogee, Willie is starting to dream again. “The first thing I need to do is get a real ID,” Willie says with a smile. “Over the years I have had so many fake ids that sometimes I forget who I really am.” The ID is a ticket to better jobs. Those better jobs will help him discover what he would like to study in college and afford the education.
He says that he would love to coach football for young people. With a glimmer in his eyes he related a story from when he was staying at a shelter in Texas.
“I played football with my friends and a coach saw me play. He thought I was pretty good. When the coach tried to find out where I went to high school I was too embarrassed to tell him that I was homeless so I lied.”
Willie feels like there are other potentially great athletes out there who just need someone that understands and can see the potential in them.
At Gospel Rescue Mission we strive to see that potential and offer to help them reach toward their dreams. When you support Gospel Rescue Mission we are investing your donation into the lives of these men and women so that they can rise up to be who God called them to be.