Alfred Finds Grace: The Greying of the Homeless
In 2011 an earthquake unlike any other hit Japan. The Tohoku Earthquake sent 30-foot waves over the it's coast, destroying homes and damaging local nuclear reactors. Alfred Perez was living in Japan and was laid off from his job soon after. Perez found his way to San Jose, California. He's spent the last five years trying to get back on his feet; looking to Monster Jobs, Indeed, and other online job portal. He's applied for nearly every position, he has not been able to secure anything. Perez says "There's just no jobs available." He's over 55, so he is unable to get Social Security Assistance and struggles with what little money he gets from General Assistance.
Perez used to ride on the Hotel 22 from East Palo Alto to Eastridge, a 24-hour bus loop, just to stay out of the cold. He says that some of the bus drivers were understanding and would turn on the heat on, "other's would like punish us." He also says that the city streets can be brutal too, "Police don't want you to sleep anywhere that makes the city look bad." He recalls a time that one officer asked how long he had been sleeping in this spot, and the officer allowed him to stay, after he responded with "two years." An example of kindness, in a usually harsh world for the homeless.
When Alfred was struggling to find food, he was down about 50 pounds from his usual weight. One of his friends saw what condition he was in, and directed Perez to Social Services. Social Services helped Alfred find Grace Baptist Church. He's able to shower and eat meals at the church on 10th street. He visits Grace everyday that it's open, which is about 4 days a week. He helps out in the kitchen so he can earn his meal. However, he still struggles to find shelter and sleeps outside of the Diridon Train Station. He wakes up at 5am everyday, before people start getting on the trains and the supervisors force him out. He doesn't give up hope. He always prides himself of that fact and knows that he will get out of this hole one day. Perez teared up as he said "I hoped that this would be over by this Christmas."
Racing to Tesla
Jay Ponce is a Mechanical Engineering student. He is a junior and is looking for an internship. He's been looking into Tesla. He knows that it's going to be a competitive, but he's hoping that the experience he has will land him the job. He's been on the Spartan Formula SAE racing team since he came to San Jose State as a freshman. He's had a love for cars ever since he was a kid. His grandmother owned a shop and he grew up around cars. He knew that when he went to college he would pursue a career in cars because of it. This year he is designing the brake system for the car. He says he gained so much from being on the team. He's been able to network with big company names during races and people really are impressed that he's worked in Formula. He says that companies always come to their pit and ask them about internships or jobs that they would want. There is always an abundance of opportunities. He knows that he will be able to secure a good job after college because of all that he's learned from designing the Spartan SAE car. He is always learning from each other and grow together. He says that sometimes you fail but it's a process. He always has fun though and knows that this is setting him on the right path.
Elizabeth Garber: Bald, Bubbly, and Beautiful
Elizabeth Garber has been homeless for over two years. Her and her husband come to the Martin Luther King Jr. Library every day and sit on the 4th floor. Their journey to homelessness started when Elizabeth's mom died and they no longer had a place to live and were on the streets for a year. Unfortunately, her husband's dad died, but he left them with an inheritance which put a roof over their head temporarily. They moved into a studio apartment - which cost $1500 per month to rent. Elizabeth says that the cost of living "took the inheritance right out from underneath them," and they were back out on the streets. Elizabeth has been bald since she was 8 years old; she has a disease that makes it so she is unable to grow hair on any part of her body. She has spent her whole life being made fun of and attacked over it. So when her and her husband had a son, their only choice was to give him up for adoption. He is now 9 years old and living with a family that is taking good care of him. Despite all the hardships that have taken a toll, she still hold hope that she will get out of the hole she's in. She is going back to high school online and always takes the time to laugh. Elizabeth holds onto the hope that she and her husband have better things ahead.