Updated: Apr 24
Nick S. is a 24-year-old male currently living in his car & recovering from an Achilles tendon & plantar fascia surgery. Nick was placed in the foster system as a young boy and was adopted at the age of 4. His adoptive parents were extremely abusive, which caused him to have a very challenging childhood. He was depressed for many years & attempted suicide multiple times. From ages 13-16, he was placed in a psychiatric hospital 18 times. Throughout his entire childhood, Nick was a very athletic basketball player. He believes that not stretching or taking care of his body very much at the time caused him to endure his injury later in life. When Nick was 17 and just about to graduate high school, he was kicked out of the house due to a huge argument with his adoptive parents. A couple of weeks later, he begged his parents to take him back and he began working as much as he could as a manager at his local movie theatre.
Two to three years later, at age 19 or 20, Nick was kicked out again and he had no other option but to live in a tent for 6 months. He was dating a woman at the time & her grandparents gave him food. He showered at the beach, as he did not have a gym membership at the time. During this time, Nick left his movie theatre job and worked an overnight job at a warehouse. After about a week or two, he started to feel severe pain in his legs.
From 2018-2020 he was going back and forth to doctors while working 3 jobs, seven days a week. He saved up enough money to rent an apartment but his legs “felt like they were on fire,” & he had to get surgery on his right leg, so he was unable to continue working. His girlfriend at the time refused to get a job as well, so he, unfortunately, lost his apartment after 2 months. Nick then moved in with his girlfriend’s grandparents. This was during the Covid-19 pandemic & he was in recovery for 6 months, so he was unable to do very much in terms of work. His girlfriend cheated on him, so he left her & ended up living with his sister for a little while. They had a falling out & he has been living in his car since August 2021. Nick tried to go to a shelter but the man working there told him that it would not be worth it because he would have to spend thousands of dollars just to stay there. So, he went to Social Services & tried to get help, but they told him that since he was living in a car, they could not help him. However, he did receive EBTs (food stamps), which have helped Nick tremendously since he has not been able to work as much as he would like to. He was never really aware of any other resources, so he decided to stay in his car and work for Doordash. That worked out for a couple of weeks, but when gas prices increased, people began ordering less, so he could not help as many customers. He was also struggling to keep his leg elevated in his car, which is crucial for his recovery.
Nick was extremely depressed throughout the winter of 2021 & the beginning of 2022. He was originally scheduled to get his surgery in January 2022, but he became very sick for 3 weeks & the surgery had to get postponed for 3-4 months. He said that “the hardest part of all of this is the injuries themselves.” He stated that living in the tent was by far his most difficult living experience because he did not know how he was going to get out of the situation, which caused a lot of extreme stress. Nick shared: “I'm usually a person to have a plan for everything… even if things don’t go well, I'll usually come up with a plan, but this time there was no plan, there was nothing that I could do.” He also said that it was extremely hard on him physically and mentally. Knowing that “my body was telling me that I could not do it & that I had to just say that it did not matter,” was very difficult because, “if I didn't do it, I would still wake up in a tent the next day.” On the contrary, Nick commented that the positive aspect of living in a tent was the mental strength that he had to get from it & the fact that he wouldn’t have been able to be this strong if it weren't for the experience. He believes that “we all have limits in life, but if you push through them … you can really achieve some great things.” This is why he “wants to inspire people to continue pushing through tough times, because if you can get through tough times, life will get better.” He is currently in recovery from his surgery in April 2022 on his left leg, but he believes that once he recovers he will be “on [his] way to where [he] wants to be.” Nick said that finding a desk job has been extremely difficult because most of them are in doctor’s offices & he does not have experience with medical practices. But, soon he will find a job and save the money to hopefully be able to rent an apartment! He says “I'm a pretty optimistic person, like through everything, all of the experiences I have had, I have never quit on myself," so he will get through this experience as well.
Nick stated that the biggest thing that has helped him through this journey is his TikTok account because he now has a platform to inspire people. He never asked anyone for money, but his followers did ask for him to start a GoFundMe and he was able to raise a little over a thousand dollars, which helped him pay off his late car payments. He is still living in his car today & is actively posting on his social media accounts. Check them all out below :)
Nick's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nickstevens__strive4greatness/
Nick's Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@nikolaithegreek
Nick's GoFundMe: https://gofund.me/c72eafae
Thank you to Nick S. for speaking with me today & sharing your story with the world. You are truly making a difference in the perceptions of homelessness in America as well as being a mentor for other individuals experiencing homelessness :)
Donate to Project WHY today so that we can continue to interview these amazing people! Project WHY is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public benefit corporation registered with the State of California & the United States government. 100% of your tax-deductible donation goes to supporting individuals experiencing homelessness! :)