After the fundraiser to raise awareness and funds for David the Water Man Ross and his storage facility for the homeless we were left with money and lots of promises to help. That was on 11/11/11 when Thanksgiving rolled around just a few weeks later no one was there. All the people that had promised to give more funds or even offered to volunteer had evaporated; I’m guessing went back to their lives and their daily routine.
Thanksgiving, instead of joining black Friday shoppers as they camped out for deals, my husband and I decided to join a different kind of camper. Across town we went with David the Water Man to pass out blankets. It was a brisk November night and I remembered I could see my breath as we got out of the car and met the Water Man at the San Diego Emergency Winter Tent. The tent has 300 beds, for those of you who are counting government statistics say San Diego has close to 10,000 homeless on any given night. That night there were close to 30 people who were waiting to get in to get beds. Everyone politely waited to hear the word on if they got in. They shivered and thanked us as we passed out blankets and socks. Then under the instruction of those staffing the tent they got in a line to take numbers for a lottery that would be drawn.
That night there were only 3 beds and those who were over 60 were told they would have to go elsewhere because they were only top bunks. One of the women pleaded saying she was strong and wouldn’t sue, she just wanted a bed. Downhearted those who didn’t get beds began gathering their things. Before they could scatter and become engulfed by the cold dark night, David stopped them. He told a few jokes, encouraged them, to not be downhearted that there is hope and then he played, “Why Me Lord.” They all stayed and listened, and then we watched as they became nothing but dots in the darkness.
That was much the way I had met David, down and out on my luck. I was sitting on a friend’s sleeping bag playing cards in front of the San Diego Public Library when a car rolled up. A little black beat up Hyundai. Everyone on the sidewalk jumped up from their encampment, some even started calling out, “Water Man.” I looked at my friend and we jumped up to see what was going on. David the Water Man introduced himself to me and I told him I was jobless and having tough times, he made punching motions and told me to keep my head up. He shared his message of hope, and said it would get better and he played , “Why Me Lord,” for all of us. Carefully, he stressed the important lyrics to us. I watched his Hyundai disappear a little dot in the darkness of night.
Three days after we had passed out blankets on Thanksgiving night I had an unnerving feeling about David. David and I talked almost every day. I had tried to call him but no answer, I knew he was anti technology and had tried in vain to get him to step into the new millennium. Panicked I told my husband I was going to check on him. The whole car ride I was arguing and pleading with God for my friend to be safe. Frantic, I went to his beloved check in center and inquired with the staff. No one had seen him. Alarmed I went to his building that he lived in. When I asked about him the building staff seemed upset when they recalled they hadn’t seen him all weekend either. The maintenance man offered to go with me to check on him. Asking me to stand back, I stood biting my nails as he went in ahead of me. I heard him call loudly “David. David, David its maintenance,” nothing but silence. “David,” he yelled. “Huh?” I head from my friend. “Its maintenance, your friend Merideth is here she came to check on you because she was worried about you.” David said, “Well why the hell didn’t you send her in first. I’m just waking up and I have to see your ugly face.”
The maintenance man laughed and they talked for a second and he said I could come in. David’s place was in shambles. He suffers from extreme migraines. He felt ill on Thanksgiving night and hadn’t been up since because of the pain. He was sitting up when I walked in and apologized for the mess. My OCD kicked in and instinctually I began cleaning. He asked me to stop but I told him I was going to be incapable of listening to him until the place was clean. He sat and sadly looked at me saying, “What happened just yesterday we were at the party everyone was there we were dancing. It was great. Now look at us. My center runs out of funds in a few months and nobody cares. Why are you here? Its over honey. The Center will close and I will go back to working out of the back of my trunk.”
David the Water Man, the man who had brought hope to so many now needed help and a lesson on hope. I kept telling him this would be different that my husband and I were going to help. I encouraged him that we knew people and we could get things done. “Oh honey I have tried. For six years I have tried but this city just isn’t going to change. City council and the people, they don’t care. They are too busy doing their own thing living in their fancy houses with all of their bling bling.” He said so sadly looking defeated on his couch. I reminded him of what he always tells me, “God always comes through in the eleventh hour.” I made him repeat it with me and gave him a speech that would have made the late Joe Paterno proud.
It has been almost two months since that moment in David’s apartment. The past week on Tuesday, January 31 at 10:20am the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to give $45,000 in emergency funding to keep the Water Man Center open. The Center was to run out of funds on February 3, 2012. God came through in the eleventh hour. It truly was a miracle where people from the community that cared, my husband with his business savvy drew up a plan and the powers that be in the city all came together.
David and I have come a long way and often remind ourselves when we do what we do in the streets that time and time again God does come through in the eleventh hour. Yes there are days when it is tough, there are deaths but through it all there is no denying that God is in control. Today that message of hope is for you dear reader. Wherever you are no matter what is going on in your life you can make it through it. God will come through and give you strength in the eleventh hour in your bleakest situation. (Now go listen to “Why Me Lord”
M & The Water Man