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The Beginning

The kindness of strangers – it can brighten anybody’s day.

But for the folks whose only home is a makeshift camp under a Dallas bridge? Their survival depends on gifts and help from people they don’t know.

People who don’t know them.

“I asked one of the homeless people once, ‘like what’s you lifestyle?’ and they said we don’t get anything unless someone gives it to us.” said Laterras R. Whitfield, who is out to bless the homeless with his HomeBless Life series.

“It’s just like another little old bitty small world, you know, a community thing” says Canel, AKA “Pops”

It’s a world and a community that Pops has been a part of for a long time.

Pops says “I really never stopped to take time to figure out, you know, how much time and everything, but it’s been over, the last over 20 years.”

Laterras asked Pops “what do you do?” He said “I just sit here and mind my business. There’s not really too much to get into, you can have a hobby, you can write.”

Once upon a time, pops worked in maintenance and construction in California. Then the work dried up and he found himself in Dallas and out of work.

He’s stayed that way, but not by choice.

“He’s a worker, he wants to work, even at 70 he says he has the energy” says Laterras.

And it’s true.

Pops says “you know, you always would like to have a job, you know, kinda hard to find, going to get an ID, places you gotta report to, like sanctions for vouchers and things like that.”

There’s no simple path from one world to the other, so Pops makes do. The only way he knows how.

He says “I try and get a little work in and everything. Some of the shops let you do things, a little work and things.”

But most of the necessities have to come from generous strangers like Laterras.

Laterras says “I said ‘you’ve been homeless off and on for the last thirty years – I mean hasn’t it gotten easy for you? Isn’t this kind of easy now?’ he said ‘no, it never gets easy.’

“It’s not exactly like camping” says Pops.

This camping trip has lasted 30 years for Pops.

Camps like this one are hidden in plain sight all around cities like Dallas, and it’s not just the tent villages that are invisible.

You can see how strangers respond to Pops on the streets of downtown Dallas when he asks a simple question – “where’s the library?”

While lots of folks are nice enough, others won’t even look in his direction.

Imagine if he was asking for money.

How do you respond when someone who looks like Pops approaches you on the street?

What difference would it make if Pops could make a better first impression with those strangers he depends on so much?

Let`s find out.

After a quick stop at a hotel for a shower and a change, Laterras brought Pops to Grand Prairie’s Studio 21 Salon for a day of pampering and a whole new look.

It’s a makeover that changes Pops’ outlook and will hopefully change the way you look at people like this.

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