Have you ever saved the life of a homeless person?

Have you ever saved the life of a homeless person?

I don't know.

I have helped people who may have been doomed, but then, something else may have happened to help them, or my efforts may not have saved them, per se.

Once, on a wilderness camping trip, I helped a family of three who were in dire straights get to safety. The Dad was convinced that he was out of his league and that he and his children would die. We were 35 miles out in the wilderness, and I helped bushwhack a way to ‘civilization.'

I don't really know how many people I've helped who are homeless - lots and lots and lots. But I don't know that I saved their lives. Hopefully, I helped make their day a little less hopeless, and that may contribute to a quality of life.

Once, I was driving on an unusually cold evening, about 29 miles from any community. It was very cold. Below freezing. As I rounded a corner, I saw a man walking on the roadside. He seemed to be a long-walker - that is, he was carrying a backpack. He wasn't dressed well for the weather.

I pulled over and spoke with him. He admitted that he hadn't planned to come on this route, but had ended up here, and then the weather changed, and he was a bit concerned about finding shelter. He asked me where the next town was, and I said it was in 29 miles, but there was no where there to stay. The next place with a town to stay was about 60 miles. He seemed to deflate when I said that.

I believed he may very well freeze to death out on the road, with no adequate shelter. Fortunately, my farm was only 8 miles away, so I took him home, fed him, he showered, and gave him a bed for the night. The next day I drove him over 100 miles to a decent sized city and got him a room for a few days so he could rest and decide what to do.

Don't know that I saved him? He may have had adequate survival skills to make it through the night.

About three years ago, I became aware of a young man who was living in his car behind a bar in town. It was winter. In Minnesota.

I went to meet this young man. Sure enough, there he was in his car, behind the bar. The police were aware of his presence, but there had been complaints about him parking there. I invited him to park in my reserved parking space at my place of business for the night, so he wouldn't be harassed. I made a sign stating he had my permission to be there, and placed it on his car.

The next morning, I was angry at myself for being frightened to bring him home. I went to work and found him and brought him to the house, provided him a room, food, etc.

He was a decent young fellow, down on his luck. His car was on its last legs, and he sold it for a couple hundred dollars.

I had an old vehicle I had been driving for 19 years, but realized I no longer needed, and so sold it for a few thousand dollars and used the money to help give this young man a new start.

He lived with us for about 6 months. My wife and I helped him prepare for the GED and taught him other (social) skills.

We got him set up in an apartment, bought him transportation (a nice bicycle) and several other items and he moved into the apartment. He's still there.

Did we save his life? I doubt it. He was a survivor.

But maybe we made a positive difference in his life, and gave him the hope of new possibilities. I certainly hope so.

Peace


Yes, I saved a homeless man in Santa Fe, who was severely psychotic. He had been sleeping outdoors in the snow and bitter cold of winter. Someone stole his guitar and sleeping bag, and his frozen feet developed serious gangrene.

When he was transported to the emergency room, he refused life-saving surgery. No one was willing to help, because helping would mean getting a court order to allow the surgeons to operate. Anyone who would defy the homeless man's express wishes would be risking a lawsuit.

The reason I was the only lawyer who could request a court order for the surgery that saved his life is because poor people like me are suit proof. You can sue me successfully, but I have no money to pay a judgment in your favor.

After that event, a Good Samaritan law was passed in the state legislature that would protect others from lawsuits when they need to ask the courts for help in similar situations.


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