In Forest Grove homelessness is less rampant than it is in other areas, but it’s still there. One of the chief differences however when comparing the Grove to other towns and cities is that often as not, the people will take care of those that have fallen on hard times. When roaming around Portland, or Beaverton, it is easy to see those that have slipped beyond society’s notice as they lounge in empty doorways, sleep beneath piles of cardboard, newspapers, or worn down old sleeping bags.
In the Grove, the issue is far from being solved, but at the very least it’s being handled. Of course given the appearance of one man that continually roams the streets, one might think differently. But that’s simply because they don’t look past the surface, to the man beneath the layers of jackets, sweaters, and coats. They see a shopping cart, a wagon, suitcases, plastic bags, all filled with items and possessions, and many would think that he’s a wandering bum, small but visible blight on an otherwise peaceful little town. Needless to say, those that don’t see deeper would be quite wrong.
John Weddell, Forest Grove’s resident man about town so to speak, has been walking up and down the streets of the town for the past two decades, toting his belongings with him from sunup to sundown. If you see him, you’ll note that John is either slowly but surely moving his belongings one a time. He’ll move the cart ahead first, then the wagon, and then whatever else he has that day will come next. It’s a constant, endless trek up and down Forest Grove’s streets, and one that many individuals throughout the years have either grown tired of, or have come to accept.
John isn’t quite the typical homeless man, as he’s already proven to several people that he is quite intelligent, affable in a way that is both innocent and carefree, and quite capable of taking care of himself. A kind man, John has a story unlike many, and is glad to talk about a good deal of it to those that will listen. So why then would anyone simply walk past this man with their eyes down and a look of pity in their eyes?
In Forest Grove, not many do. Throughout the years many Grove residents have come to know John for the kind and talented man he is, and have embraced his presence rather than scorn him for his habits. John has shown he’s a man of culture with a practical nature and a quick smile for those that know him best. Simply speaking to him is an experience that many have said is quite pleasing, as he is always ready with something to say or a least a pleasantry to offer others when they greet him during the day.
Many of the homeless are looked down upon or even considered to be lesser human beings due to their circumstances, but this is largely because many people see how frail their own lives could be, and are scared of sharing a similar fall. My advice when thinking this way is to keep John Weddell in mind, and remember that looking at someone isn’t knowing them. Once you scratch past what lies on the surface you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.