My Experience & Reason…
By: Daniel Castilleja
Never judge a man till you have been in his shoes. You know that they are so quick to look away, because it’s the easy thing to do. This is what I live by today.
What I do now is volunteer for causes I believe in, and one of them is to end homelessness in L.A. and the rest of the World. When I was asked by S.R.O.to participate & represent them at the United Way HomeWalk, I was honored and excited. I raised about $700 on my own, and was told later that I was the top fundraiser for Team S.R.O. It was good to know, but that is not the reason why I asked for donations. It was to help United Way raise money to end homelessness in L.A.
I was homeless about 2 ½ years ago, due to losing my job. I slept in my Land Rover, and then eventually lost it due to not paying the tickets I would get for parking in places I could sleep at. After losing my vehicle, I found an apartment complex and slept in the stairwell with only the clothes I had on. Days went by without eating and showering. I remember how people would look at me with ugly looks and would say comments that would make me feel even lesser than I already did. A smile or a nice comment makes your day a lot better than a dirty look or bad comment.
I now live in a beautiful apartment complex called The James Woods Apartments in Skid row, owned by S.R.O. Housing. I see homeless people every day I step out of my building, and as always I smile and say good morning. I just want them to know that I’m not judging them and that I’m not like the people that don’t speak to them because they are homeless. I offer my help by doing little things like when I save my aluminum cans and pass them out, or when I have clothes, shoes or sometimes food and a little extra change, I can afford to give out.
If you knew me, then you would know I’m pretty ambitious and that I don’t give up that easily. So don’t be surprised if what I say now comes true…I believe one day everyone will have a place of their own, where they won’t have to sleep out on the street, and this makes me feel great inside!
Daniel generously dedicated his piece to everyone at United Way of Greater LA and S.R.O. Housing for their ongoing efforts to end homelessness in Los Angeles.