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Stephen - Homeless from Texas to Oklahoma

Stephen is a 57-year-old man who has overcome homelessness in Oklahoma. He grew up in Texas with a “very tough childhood”. He had two siblings and three half-siblings. Stephen’s father left when he was young and he only has one memory of him: One day, he asked his dad how much he made in an hour and he responded $10 an hour. He already had $4 saved under his pillow and begged his dad for $6. Stephen then tried to pay his dad $10 for an hour of his time but never got it. 


After Stephen’s father left, his mother did not know what to do and took the family to a railroad track to "end it all”. Fortunately, the police showed up and told them to find support at church. During this time, his mom wrote many anonymous stories and poems that he holds close to his heart.


A few years later, Stephen’s mom remarried a very abusive man when Stephen was under 10 years old. In 8th grade, Stephen finally told his biological father about the abuse and was able to move in with him. He played high school football to try to get his dad's attention, but he never went to any of his games. This lack of attention caused Stephen turmoil and he started hanging out with kids who smoked weed and skipped school, so he started getting into trouble.


Stephen was kicked out of the house in 10th grade after he was caught with his girlfriend home alone and he was kicked out of school due to his absences at the same time. He knew someone who gave him a temporary job, but they got into a fight shortly after, and this is when Stephen first experienced homelessness. He tried to move in with his uncle and work for him, but that didn’t last long either. During this time, Stephen got a DWI and went to jail for selling meth for 3 days. He was suddenly released and he learned that the policemen got shot and were not able to continue with the trial. 


After experiencing homelessness on and off while trying to find a place to stay as often as possible, Stephen decided to move to Las Vegas when he was 28 on a whim to take a bartending class. He could only afford to live there for a week, so after that, he didn't have anywhere to go. He began sleeping on the streets and in dangerous areas, witnessing deaths and having to sleep where people had passed the night before. 


Stephen worked as a porter and then as a barback until he switched jobs to be a bartender after

he completed his classes. Unfortunately, he was never able to make much money and, after 6 months, he decided to come back to Texas, where he was still homeless but was at least closer to family.


Upon returning home, Stephen’s sister offered him a place to stay and he found a job as a bartender. After three years, he was able to move into a friend's house that was moving out and he lived there for ten years. He switched through many jobs during this decade and also had an accident that caused him to have operations on his neck.


After the swine flu pandemic, Stephen lost his job and was evicted because he could not afford to pay his bills. He moved back in with his sister but was kicked out over a fight because his dog bit someone. Stephen was working at the Salvation Army and got his first paycheck. He had to decide whether to rescue his dog or save the money for himself - he chose to rescue the dog. Stephen shared: “I was homeless, I was broke, but I had my dog, and that was probably the greatest, happiest moment I have ever experienced."


Stephen has overcome homelessness once again and has lived in Oklahoma for the past 5 years. He is now working on giving back to the homeless by feeding them and donating as much of his time as possible.


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! :)

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