This is Gregory, then & now

Revisiting Gregory, one of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC.

From time to time I try to revisit those individuals who have agreed to allow me to use their photographs in this project. Sometimes I find that they are still living on the street but are in general, doing better than when we first met. Sometimes, they have disappeared from the street altogether, perhaps finding housing or supportive services. Then there are the sad situations such as Gregory. I first met Gregory over a year ago, July 27, 2016. You can read about that encounter here. The photograph made at that time is on the left. What was so striking about that meeting was how optimistic and resilient he was. Seeing his self-appointed job as litter patrol on Capitol Hill as his mission in life. Despite living on the street Gregory was remarkably upbeat, happy and in good health.

When I saw Gregory last week, on August 30, I barely recognized him. He had lost quite a bit of weight, was more depressed, disheveled, unkempt, and had recently fallen and sustained a laceration on his forehead. He said the hospital told him he had a seizure. He was still wearing his hospital wristband when I saw him. Gregory was no longer picking up litter as he had done before. He was just passively panhandling without much success. The deterioration in Gregory’s appearance and mental state was shocking. Although, I suppose it shouldn’t be given that he has been living without shelter continuously for many years. How does one remain in good spirits under those circumstances? I bought Gregory some food and gave him some cash in return for this photograph. What kind of city is this that allows it’s least fortunate to deteriorate in plain sight? If you see Gregory around Capitol Hill, stop and lend him a hand. You’ll both be much better off for having had that experience.

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