By Darnell Boyd

Feb. 15, 2019

I will never forget that day. It was July 17, the day I first arrived in San Francisco. It was a cold, wet and rainy day when the Greyhound bus pulled into the station. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What happened to the summer?” because two days before, I was in Phoenix and it was 115 degrees. I knew right then that I needed to find a shelter, and fast.

I was freezing, so I saw some men walking with backpacks. I asked one elderly gentleman, “Could you please tell me where is the nearest shelter?” He told me to follow him, and I did.

It wasn’t what I expected, but it had to do. Home Sweet Home, it wasn’t, but at least I wasn’t cold, wet and hungry any more. For that, I was truly grateful for the shelter.

Some years later, I was walking home last night, and I watched an elderly woman engaged in a fight with the streets of San Francisco. She was no match for the cold, wet and mean streets, because the streets had help from the elements, tag-team style. First, the cold winds attacked her, then the cold winds from the Pacific, then the hot sun came and burned her skin.

Then, it was the streets’ turn. The streets took her tent, blankets, meds and a citation. Just when the streets thought they had her beat, along came a stranger and offered her shelter. The shelter gave her, which gave her a place to stay until they gave her housing. Then they gave her a job. Now she is giving back to society, thanks to the shelter.