Pepper – the “Mayor of Skid Row” – is a charismatic and well-known figure in downtown Los Angeles. FID staff member Lindsey got to know him ten years ago, when she used to make weekly trips to Skid Row with her family to give out food and supplies. A determined individualist and fiercely independent, Pepper was adamant about not receiving any help, but he and Lindsey did become very good friends.
Fast forward to the present – a ten-year-old photo of Lindsey and Pepper popped up on Lindsey’s Facebook feed, reminding her of what started her on the route towards working with unhoused people, and prompting her to wonder what had happened to Pepper – was he even still alive? Life expectancy is brutally short, when you live on the streets.
And then, only a few days later and quite by coincidence – when she was helping a client get moved into a housing facility in Downtown Los Angeles – Lindsey was surprised and delighted to run into Pepper again! It was a joyful reunion for both of them.
This isn’t really a Friends In Deed story at all. But we wanted to tell it because of what it says about the real and deep relationships that exist between our clients and our staff members, and the web of interconnected support networks and services of which FID is a part. We don’t know what finally enabled Pepper to accept the support of a bridge housing placement, but we like to think that it was an incremental process, perhaps involving many people like Lindsey and many organizations like Friends In Deed, all doing their bit to bring Pepper to the point where he could accept that a little help might change his life for the better.
We couldn’t be happier that things are looking brighter for this extraordinary individual. If you’d like to see a little more of Pepper, this music video of the song Long at All, by Everlast, features him and captures something of his personality.