California man helps homeless man living in tent find a job


Like most of us, Adam August hits up his local Starbucks on coffee runs. On several occasions, he’d notice a homeless man nearby.

“Every time I’d see him I’d tell myself that I would take him to lunch but always found an excuse not to,” writes August on question and answer site Quora. “Today was different. It might have been selfish but I was lonely. I didn’t want to spend the whole day alone. I walked up to him, put my hand on his shoulder and said ‘Do you want to have lunch with me?’”

<i>Photo courtesy of Adam August</i>
Photo courtesy of Adam August

But the two had more than just lunch.

Over the course of the meal, August learnt the man’s name (Tarec Atkinson), that he was born and raised in Jamaica and that he dreamt of being a pro soccer player as a kid but was a troubled teen and never had the opportunity to.

Atkinson immigrated to the U.S. eight years ago but spent the last year living in a tent by the side of the freeway. Without family of friends, he spends most of his time alone and goes days without food, sometimes living off the berries he picks. When August learnt he had not showered in a month, he kindly invited Atkinson to his apartment so he could take a hot shower and clean up. But he didn’t stop there.

“Because of all these hardships, trying to get a job is impossible,” notes August. “How can you fill out an application when you haven’t eaten in days?”

So he arranged to drive around with Atkinson next week to speak with business managers and fill out applications. He even took Atkinson clothes shopping so he could pick out an interview outfit.

“We stopped at Ross so he could pick out a shirt and some slacks. I was blown away at the immediate change in his demeanor,” he writes. “His smile was radiant, he stood up straighter, and even walked with a swagger.”

<i>Photo courtesy of Adam August</i>
Photo courtesy of Adam August

“I couldn’t convince him to tuck in his shirt. I guess you win some and you lose some.”

The duo spent the next two days going to Walgreens, CVS, Safeway, Home Depot, Starbucks and more to inquire if they were hiring.

“I would walk in with him so he knew he wasn’t alone. It can be overwhelming to walk into a business and ask for a job,’ writes August. “We had a few positive responses but the majority of businesses told us that applications were submitted online.”

A convenient process for most, but a stumbling block for Atkinson who didn’t have a computer or much computer literacy — so the two headed to the local library.

<i>Photo courtesy of Adam August</i>
Photo courtesy of Adam August

Watching him struggle to fill out an application [gave me] so much perspective,” wrote August. “Some people judge our homeless. We’ve all heard someone say ‘Why don’t they just get a job?’ or ‘They’re lazy.’ I saw firsthand how the ‘system’ is set up to fail people like Tarec. There is no way he would have been able to do any of this without my help.”

When Atkinson landed an in-person interview at Safeway, August drove him there.

“I remember driving to Safeway being nervous. I looked over to him and asked how he was feeling. He looked back at me and said ‘I got this.’ I believed him.”

<i>Photo courtesy of Adam August</i>
Photo courtesy of Adam August

After 20 minutes, Atkinson walked out and greeted August with a big smile and a thumbs up. He officially had a job offer.

In just two weeks, August had helped a man living in a tent get back on his feet again. Naturally, the pair had to celebrate with ice cream.

<i>Photo courtesy of Adam August</i>
Photo courtesy of Adam August

August rounded off his post saying, “My hope in sharing this story is that it will inspire others to spread LOVE. We all need help in one way or another. Sometimes all someone needs is a friend.”

What do you think of August’s act of kindness? Let us know by tweeting @YahooStyleCA.

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