Mega-selling novelist Steel (Friends Forever, 2012, etc.) reveals a hidden chapter from her life: the time she spent assisting the homeless on the streets of San Francisco.
Overwhelmed by grief after her oldest son committed suicide, the author prayed for “something to make me hold on.” Within minutes, she heard a voice in her head: “It came to me simply: Help the homeless.” Steel admits to being frightened initially, but the first time she distributed supplies to those in need (accompanied by an employee who agreed to join her), she felt uplifted by their response. The people she met were deeply grateful and undemanding, and she felt a deep connection to them. Although she thought this would be a one-time experience, she returned on a monthly basis over a period of 11 years. She assembled a small team of helpers, all the while protecting her anonymity in order to avoid the celebrity scene. Concerned for their safety in potentially dangerous neighborhoods, she recruited four off-duty policemen as helpers, but in fact, they were never threatened. Steel offers inspiring stories of the people she encountered: a mother in a wheelchair with her daughter, who was receiving chemotherapy, who shunned the shelters because they found conditions inside more dangerous than those on the street; street people whose meager belongings and makeshift shelters were treated as trash by the city sanitation department; and many more. Their outreach group would call out the street salute, “Yo,” to announce their presence, and they became known as “Yo! Angel.” With poverty programs shutting down, while at the same time, more people are homeless, Steel has felt the need to drop her anonymity and go public.
A simple but moving call for action.