Say “Hello” to Shon!
When Shon first came to Loaves & Fishes, he was simply looking to get a TB test. Instead, he left with a TB test, two sleeping bags, and a newfound community.
Shon’s first experience with Loaves & Fishes caused him to feel safe, secure, and loved by the staff, the volunteers, and the other guests. And this has caused him to return to Loaves & Fishes whenever his life needs it, most recently since June.
Therefore, on most days you can find Shon sitting on a bench under the new mist-ers, facing towards the entrance of Friendship Park. He arrives at Loaves & Fishes a little after 7am, but not before making a quick stop at a shelter to check-in and see where he stands on their waiting list. Each week he has moved up, closer and closer to getting a bed. And each week he provides a mountain of knowledge to all who enter Friendship Park.
Shon gains this knowledge both from his personal experiences and through his time spent in the park. Throughout the day you will find him wandering the park as he catches up with both guests and staff.
Shon is always making connections with others, learning from their knowledge and experiences before he passes that knowledge onto someone else.
When asked what advice he could offer, he simply put: “If I don’t have the information that you need, then always talk to a green hat”. And that definitely is true. Shon is the person that always has the answer, anywhere from CalFresh options to shelter requirements to the safest places to rest. He almost always has the answer. Or at least knows who to talk with to get the answer. And it is all due to his interactions within the park each day.
Lastly, I asked Shon what is his favorite part of Friendship Park and his immediate response was, “I simply like being in the park”. To him, you cannot separate out each aspect of the park and say that it stands alone. Rather, Friendship Park is a safe place because of all the programs it provides: from the washroom to the service center, it all comes together be a space of peace.
So, the next time you visit Friendship Park, make sure to say “hello” to Shon.