The image on the left is of Mary on February 18, 2014. The image on the right was made May 10, 2017
From time to time I try and locate people that I have photographed in the past just to see how they are doing, if they are still living on the street without shelter, and if anything has changed for the better in their life. Sadly, things are seldom better and for the most part have just remained the same. Such is the case for Mary. Here is a link to the posting when I first met Mary three years ago in February of 2014.
The photo on the right was made on May 10, 2017 at almost the exact same location at the George Washington Hospital Metro Station. While Mary appears a little more presentable and has had a hair cut recently she is still very agitated, disorganized and almost impossible to engage in a conversation. I was able to induce her to sit still for this photograph by buying her some food and water from a convenience store across the street. As it was more than three years ago, Mary is unable to talk about what she has been doing, how she manages day to day, where she sleeps, or anything other than her delusional thinking. Mary does not and most likely cannot effective panhandle. She seems to just meander around crowded areas in the city. As is sometimes the case, passersby will offer her food and or money.
Mary and the other mentally ill women and men like her who live on the streets of DC without shelter are a testament to the failure of this city to care for it’s most vulnerable citizens. That leaves these vulnerable souls to be cared for by the churches and non-profit outreach organizations in the city. If you see Mary or someone like her on the street, try and engage them in a conversation. It won’t be easy and they may just walk away from you but at least try. If you succeed, it will be a rewarding experience that the both of you will appreciate.