This is an extra edition of an earlier post on the same subject. I did not realize in my first post that the homeless man that was tossed out of his local Starbucks was in fact a homeless veteran. One of the approximately 200,000 homeless veterans living in the streets, woods and under bridges of our country today.
But since the earlier story mentioned that he was a blogger, I thought I might be able to google him. I found this earlier story about him in a different newspaper:
Homeless man makes a living on downtown Bethesda streets
Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2006
Stephanie SiegelStaff Writer, The Gazette
Photo by Laurie DeWitt⁄The Gazette
Al Szekely Sr., a homeless man, came to Bethesda from Georgia after he was injured at his auto body shop. The accident caused him to have to sell his business. Szekely holds a list of rights he is entitled to while living on the street.
(…) fill in the blanks by going to the link above
Al Szekely has a laptop computer, cell phone and e-mail account. It’s a roof over his head and four walls to call his own that he’s lacking.
For about two years, Szekely, 59, has been homeless. Most recently he has taken up residence on the streets of downtown Bethesda, sleeping in a parking garage stairwell.
Despite losing almost everything he had, being beaten, robbed and generally ignored, Szekely still has hope.
‘‘One thing I do is keep my faith strong with God,” said the graying and bearded man. ‘‘The more adversity people face, they’re going to gain faith or lose it. My faith is stronger. I can still smile, tell a joke, make someone laugh, make their day better.“
Szekely wasn’t always this way. He used to have a home and a business. A former mechanic, he came to the Washington, D.C., area two years ago from Dublin, Ga., to fight for disability benefits, following an on-the-job accident that left him in a wheelchair and eventually drained his savings. He had no health insurance.
‘‘I’m still the same human being I’ve always been,” he said. ‘‘I have a heart, I have feelings just like you.”
Szekely made his way to Bethesda because he heard it was quiet and there weren’t many homeless people. Since settling in, he’s found ways to get by.
‘‘If you manage what little you got, you can make do,” he said.
He often checks his e-mail at a Bethesda computer store. He gets his coffee from a local coffee shop just up the block, where he said he buys one cup and the second one is free. The guys who sell Italian ices from carts on the corner of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues hook him up with cool treats on hot days. And other employees from area shops generally keep an eye out for him. However, employees at downtown businesses would not comment on helping homeless people.
‘‘There are a bunch of good kids that watch over me and make sure I’m alright,” Szekely said.
That’s why he prefers the streets to shelters, where he said he’s been robbed. He spent a total of a week in shelters in and around Washington, D.C., including a night at the county’s men’s shelter on Gude Drive in Rockville, which left him with ‘‘a fair impression.”
There need to be more shelters, he said. But not of the kind most people think about.
‘‘Shelters are no more than warehouses …,” he said. ‘‘I’m not talking about handouts. Give me an opportunity to go to school. Give me an opportunity for honest work.”
Homeless residents need educational resources, job placement and training and ‘‘some form of counseling to get you back into society,” he said.
Kirk said that many homeless people do whatever they can to begin working and find stability in their lives. But others just aren’t ready, for a variety of reasons. (…) Kirk said Szekely does not come to Bethesda Cares or use any of the organization’s services.
Szekely said he is waiting to receive a Social Security check, which he expects by the end of the month or early September. Then he plans to go back to Georgia, where he said he’ll be able to afford to rent an apartment. Szekely said he believes that people get what they give in the world and said he’s working the best he can to improve his situation.
Oldtimer’s Comment. This is the same man that was kicked out of Starbucks because they did not want the homeless in their store, despite the fact that, (according to the news article quoted earlier) he was a regular customer, drinking coffee with another regular customer who was not homeless. Once put out, he was not even allowed to send someone in to purchase a fresh cup and bring it back out. A homeless hero treated poorly by a business with a heart for money but no heart for the needy human, customer or not!
Starbucks – What were you thinking?
I know you offered to give more money and coffee donations to a nearby shelter after your poor citizenship was held up to the light, but what is needed is a clearer understanding by your corporate as well as franchise staff as to how to meet the needs of those less fortunate in the community that you serve coffee to and how that will work going forward. There needs to be a human side, a compassionate side, a caring side of your business. Its not all about money!
You have used up your goodwill pass for this year. Time for damage control, but this will not go away until you show a true heart and compassion for the needy, a will to help the homeless, and a genuine respect for our veterans, homeless or not! Shame on you!
Update! Update! (added since first issued)
If any reader thinks this is an isolated incident, then check out this news item found by my friend, a homeless veteran, Wanderingvet:
Starbucks: Customers can’t talk to homeless people either! Homeless people that buy coffee have to leave the store, customer who talked to one also kicked out!