Alex, 39

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"I was told I had six months to live, but I'm still here.  God is good."

To know Alex is to love him.  He is a bear of a man, with the smile of a child.  His demeanor is gentle and his voice soft spoken.  He even laughs softly with quiet bursts of giggles.  Alex has been diagnosed with AIDS and although receiving treatment is homeless.

This is Alex's story.

Alex is an Orlando native and has been homeless for twelve years.  He was adopted as a child, and never knew his parents.  He lived with his grandmother until she passed leaving him without family, a place to stay, or anywhere to go. One of our volunteers is the closest to family that he has who will, on occasion bring him home for a hot meal and a shower.  She is diligently working on his behalf to help him reacquire lost identification so he can begin the process of "getting inside" through the Homeless Services Network.

Although Alex dabbled in alcohol and marijuana, he is now sober and has been for quite some time.  He contracted AIDS through sexual relations with a woman who did not share or did not know she was HIV positive.  He keeps to himself on the street because he knows how easy it is to be persuaded by the wrong crowd.  He is constantly surprised by how poorly the homeless treat each other and how the few can ruin opportunities and assistance for those in need.

Alex did have a reprieve from homelessness for a while.  He worked at TJ Maxx as a maintenance worker until the store was shut down.  He also had a room for rent until his disease took a turn for the worse and he woke up one morning with blood soaked bed sheets.  It was then he decided homelessness was better than potentially endangering the other inhabitants of the house. 

I told Alex how much I love his smile and he said, "I'm a happy person.  I don't let anything bother me.  I keep the faith.  I'm blessed no matter what, you know, so I can't complain."  He did add, "It's not fun being on the street at all.  It's not fun at all." I asked him if he could have anything at all what it would be and he replied he would just want to take a shower.  He says it's hard to keep clean and not smell bad when all you have to use are the sinks in the bathrooms at the bus station or the public library.  

When referencing his sickness he said, "It's kinda scary, you know, but everything happens for a reason." In November of last year, Alex was told he had six months to live which means if the diagnosis is correct then his time with us is rapidly coming to an end.  His body and physical stamina have decreased tremendously and all we can do is worry when he doesn't show up to the food shares or when he doesn't check in.  I admire his optimism and faith.

Please join me in praying for Alex.

~PJ Charles

PJ Charles