Home / US / A Yale graduate and former banker became homeless in Los Angeles. Then a co-alum made an unexpected offer

A Yale graduate and former banker became homeless in Los Angeles. Then a co-alum made an unexpected offer

"I started reading it – and just tears," said Kim Hershman, who had studied in Yale a year before Pleasants. Although they were hardly known at the time, Hershman immediately felt obliged to help, especially after learning that the Pleasants camp was only miles away from home.

"When we were in Yale in the '80s, there were very few black students there," Hershman recalled. "Things are different now, but I know that everything he's done has changed and he did not have the support I possibly had."

  Shawn Pleasants was always excellent at school.

Hershman, a business consultant in Hollywood, is also a lawyer who graduated from Yale Law School. She consulted with her alumni network for advice and encouragement, and soon a flood of postings appeared on a Facebook page for black Yale alums.

"If Kim wants to do something, I should not get in the way." a member wrote.

"Would he be prepared to accept the offer of help?" another asked.

There was only one way to find that out. The day after my CNN story appeared online, Hershman set off for Koreatown to try to find Pleasants in the tent camps.

"I was a bit nervous because I thought, 'Where am I going? I'm a 5 foot 1 woman,' she recalled, fearing that it could not be safe camped out.

"Yes," somebody said to her at some point. "He's around the corner."

She had a familiar face and a compelling offer.

Almost everyone on Shawn Pleasants' orbit was homeless, just like him. Some people who passed by were friendly ("If people say, 'Good morning,' that really makes a difference," others would like to know.) Others were indifferent or rude.

So when the woman wore a Yale He took a seat beside him on the sidewalk and reached for his hand. Pleasants knew that this was no ordinary visitor. When he saw the hat's "Y" logo, his thoughts returned to the magical setting of Yale's campus in New Haven, Connecticut.

"I may have seen her at school seven or eight times," he recalled.

Although they had never been formally introduced, the Pleasants knew who she was.

But why had she come to visit him today? he wondered.

  Pleasants lived on a sidewalk in Los Angeles for 10 years. He said he was one of the few who owned a laptop.

After a few minutes of small talk, Hershman had a simple but extremely complicated question for a man who had lived on the street for a decade.

My big deal was, "What do you want, and based on what you want, I'll do anything to help you," she told CNN, remembering the first conversation.

"I want to make a difference," Pleasants replied. "I am in this situation and there must be a reason and I want to help others." Shawn Pleasants noticed the Yale logo on Kim Hershman's hat. Shawn Pleasants noticed the Yale logo on Kim Hershman's hat. "class =" media__image "src =" http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191108112513-03-homeless-yale-grad-shawn-pleasants-large-169.jpg "/>

Talking about the possibilities, Pleasants explained his vision of a homeless resource center where people could take a shower on the street, receive mail, charge a phone or iron a shirt, a kind of one-stop shop to meet some critical needs, it was urgently needed.

Hershman made no promises, but she assured Pleasants that if he accepted her help, she would fetch him from the streets and help him regain his footing.

But there was a catch, and it was non-negotiable: he had to agree to drug rehabilitation.

Over the years, Pleasants had rejected similar offers from families.

This time he said yes, but with his own restriction, "I have to take my husband," he said Hershman and related his longtime partner David, who has been living with Pleasants for years. even before both became homeless.

Hershman agreed.

"She is very charismatic and a compelling leader," said Pleasants. "And if she wants to do something, then she does it with pleasure." She is an angel. "

They made a move appointment a few weeks later. Nevertheless, Pleasants was not sure.

  Hershman shares letters of encouragement her classmates at Yale wrote to Pleasants.

After a Week, Hershman Returned Look for Pleasants and share a lot of supportive, encouraging messages that their classmates had sent to Yale. He was "quite scared that he had shamed his family in Yale and his family," she said, referring to CNN's coverage.

"Knowing that he had not inspired and touched people meant the world to him," Hershman said in a text. "The messages really got Shawn to leave the street."

A New Life Still Feels Like A Fugitive Fantasy

The belongings of the builders consisted of a series of food carts with clothes, blankets and other unkempt items. Tarpaulins connected with the carts formed a roof. In a laundry basket were unopened cereal boxes, which he had received from a pantry. His belongings seemed to take half a block.

But he left everything behind, except for a few clothes he had stashed in garbage bags and luggage he had bought on the street. The employees also held a battery-powered candle that would "mentally warm him up" and a baseball bat he kept for protection.

  Homelessness reaches an emergency level in Los Angeles.

"At some point someone will say 'April Fool's joke' and it's over," he said.

Pleasants has been dealing with ongoing medical problems, including his vision. An innate state blinded him in one eye and advanced glaucoma threatened the other. In the meantime, David has recovered from heart surgery to treat a genetic abnormality.

Pleasants has also come to terms with an earlier emotional trauma, including the death of his mother in 2010, which he believes has contributed to his downward spiral.

  In the LA homeless crisis, skid row is everywhere

"You have to show a strong face out there," he said his life on the streets. "But here I can sit and cry and we can hug and clear it in 30 minutes."

However, his drug abuse is still ongoing. Pleasants and David have left their grounds a few times, and Hershman believes they may have been drugged.

It's easy to say, Hershman said, if he did not use.

"He seems to be flatter and more depressed," she said, adding that his addiction is "genuine – a crutch – and hides a lot of pain."

"I've never been good at doing something cold turkey, life is in the middle," Pleasants said, adding that "being synonymous with my credibility" is becoming drug-free.

Make plans to sober up and share his story.

On Friday at a rehab facility in the Los Angeles Tarzana neighborhood, he told CNN. Hershman identified the facility and considered it suitable. Pleasants' partner will enter a few weeks later after fully recovering from heart surgery.

"I'm ready," Pleasants said over the phone on Thursday, adding that he felt "a little scared," but that "it feels like the responsible thing to do."

Hershman covers the cost of 30 days of treating Pleasants, which she says are just over $ 10,000. Yale's colleagues have agreed to contribute, though no reimbursements or financial arrangements have been made. The price could also rise because "they might recommend that it stays longer than 30 days," she said.

It also helps Pleasants stay in more permanent housing with a federally subsidized Section 8 coupon he recently received.

A mother of two teens who works as an independent consultant, Hershman said she was present around the clock for pleasants.

During all these years, she has the experience with the help of recorded videographers. They have visions for a television documentary "that will guide viewers through everything they're going through," she said.

Pleasants believes that this could change people's perception of homelessness.

  Hershman and Pleasants visit his temporary guest house.

"From soup to nut, you'll see everything, you'll see that." Good points, you will see the bad spots because they have to be real, "he said." We are people with a variety of different circumstances. There are people from all cultures, countries, ages and occupations. "

Political experts point to the lack of affordable housing in California as the main cause of endemic homelessness, which Pleasants can not argue with.

" Not everyone can afford $ 2,000 Paying for a studio a month, "he said," People who used to help homeless people ended up sitting next to us on the street. "

Pleasants also wants to draw attention to the lack of facilities just to" dress up

  Los Angeles homeless deaths have doubled since 2013, a report said

" To get a job and get out, you have to take a shower somewhere. We have to get a computer to do a CV. Where should we do these things? He added that he and Hershman are considering ways to promote his ideas for a resource center.

In the meantime, he has written a note to be included in the next issue of Yales Alumni Magazine, Hershman shared CNN and read in part: "I would like to thank all alumni for their support, understanding and compassion … and for their critical eye for what is going on in my situation. I do not just want charity. I need critical and constructive help (in terms of advice or real goods and services), not just someone who throws money at me … I need more than a helping hand. I need a map where I go. Thank you for doing so – at a level that's another Yalie & # 39; underestimated. "

In the short term, Pleasants said he wanted to be worthy of his new joie de vivre – made possible by a single message A woman who felt inspired to act.

He also knows that there are people who wonder if he is blow up and return to the road.

"I hope the hell does not," said, "and I hope for them that they will not lose their grip because they will experience some of the worst times I have have experienced. And it does not matter who you are, it's a possibility. "

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