Adam August would often see Tarec Atkinson, a homeless man, at a Starbucks in Marin City. He would always tell himself that he’d treat Tarec to lunch one day but always found an excuse not to. But one day, he finally decided to do it.
“It might have been selfish but I was lonely,” August said, according to an article he wrote on Quora. “I didn’t want to spend the whole day alone. I walked up to him, put my hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Do you want to have lunch with me?’”
That day August learned that Atkinson, who was from Jamaica, moved to the U.S. eight years ago and had been living in a tent by the side of the freeway for about a year ever since he lost his job. Sometimes it would be days before Atkinson would get to eat.
He would spend 90 percent of his time alone and it had been a month since he last bathed. This broke August’s heart and he took Atkinson back to his home to take a shower.
“Because of all these hardships, trying to get a job is impossible,” August wrote. “How can you fill out an application when you haven’t eaten in days?”
August offered to help drive Atkinson around to find a job, but first, Atkinson was in need of some new clothes. So, August took him to Ross and bought him some.
“I was blown away at the immediate change in his demeanor,” August said. “His smile was radiant, he stood up straighter, and even walked with a swagger.”
The pair relentlessly searched for work over the next few days going door to door to places like Walgreens, CVS, Safeway, Home Depot, Molly Stones, and Starbucks.
“I would walk in with him so he knew he wasn’t alone,” August said. “It can be overwhelming to walk into a business and ask for a job.”
What they found was that many of the businesses required applications to be submitted online. Only problem was that Atkinson didn’t have a computer or computer skills. So, they went to the library and August helped with the applications on the computer.
“We take our computer literacy for granted,” August said. “Watching him struggle to fill out an application put so much into perspective for me. I saw firsthand how the ‘system’ is set up to fail people like Tarec. There is no way he would have been able to do any of this without help.”
Atkinson then had to find a phone so he could take some phone interviews. August helped him with that as well, and Atkinson finally landed an in-person interview at Safeway. The two of them were overjoyed when Atkinson landed the job.
“Like we all are, Tarec is searching for a purpose in life. He yearns for happiness,” August wrote. “He wants to create a better life for himself so he could one day have a family and stability. He is just like you and me. My hope in sharing this story is that it will inspire others to spread LOVE. We all need help in one way or another. Sometimes all someone needs is a friend.”
After that, the two men lost touch over the next few months and Atkinson eventually lost his job.
“Holding a job when you sleep in a tent and can’t shower every day isn’t a recipe for success,” August told New York television station WABC. “I didn’t appreciate that fact a few months ago. I do now.”
Now August is trying to help Atkinson get enough money to get an apartment until he is able to rebuild his life. So far, the gofundme page he sent up for Atkinson has raised $16,000 of his $25,000 goal.