A Yale employee and former banker ended up homeless in Los Angeles. A colleague then offered him an unexpected offer


"I started reading it – just tears," said Kim Hershman, who had studied for a year in front of Pleasants at Yale. Although only known at the time, Hershman immediately felt compelled to help, especially after learning that Pleasants' headquarters were just miles from her home.

"When we were in Yale in the '80s, there were very few black students there," Hershman recalled. "Things are very different now, but I know that for what he did, something changed and he didn't have the support I probably had."

Shawn Pleasants had always distinguished himself in school.

A Hollywood business affairs consultant, Hershman is also a lawyer who graduated from Yale Law School. She returned to her alumni network for guidance and encouragement, and a flood of publications soon appeared on a Facebook page about black Yale alum.

"If Kim wants to do something, I shouldn't stop," one member wrote.

"Would he be willing to accept the offer of help?" raised another question.

There was only one way to find out. The next day when my story on CNN aired online, Hershman made her way to Koreatown to try to find a pleasant way between the tent camps.

"I was a little nervous because I was like, 'Where am I going? I'm a 5-foot-1 woman, "she remembered, fearing she might not be safe.

Hershman – accompanied by two Yal, including the significant other, began asking for homeless people in the area if they knew where the Euphorians were coming from.

"Yes," someone finally told her. "It's in the corner."

He had a familiar face and a convincing offer

Almost everyone in Shawn Pleasants' orbit was homeless like him. Some of the walkers were friendly ("When people say 'Good morning' really makes a difference," others would like to know.) Others were indifferent or rude.

So when the woman wearing a Yale hat sat next to him on the sidewalk and grabbed his hand, Thanks knew he was not just a visitor. Seeing the hat's "Y" logo, his mind ran back to the magical setting of the Yale campus in New Haven, Connecticut.

"I had seen her maybe seven or eight times at school," she recalled.

Although they had never been formally introduced, Thanks knew who they were.

But why had he come to see him today? he wondered.

The hosts lived on the Los Angeles sidewalk for 10 years. He said he was one of the few to have a laptop.

After a few minutes of brief talk, Hershman had a simple but extremely complex question about a man who lived on the streets for a decade.

"My big thing was, 'Do what you want and do what you want, I will do what I can to help you,'" he told CNN, recalling the original conversation.

"I want to make a difference," the Eucharist replied. "I'm in this situation, and there has to be a reason for all this, and I want to help others."

Shawn Pleasants spotted the Yale logo in Kim Hershman's hat.

They were talking about the possibilities. Thanks explained his vision for a homeless resource center where people who live on the streets can shower, receive mail, charge a phone or iron a shirt. A kind of one-stop shop to meet some critical needs, she said, was desperately needed.

Hershman made no promises. However, he assured the Philippines that if he accepted her help, he would take him out of the streets and help him regain his life.

But there was only one obstacle, and it was non-negotiable: He had to agree to drug rehabilitation.

Over the years, Thanksgiving had rejected similar offers from the family.

This time he said yes – but with his own warning: 'I need to bring my husband with me,' he told Hershman, referring to his long-term partner, David, who had lived with the Pleasants for years, and they both became homeless. .

Hershman agreed.

"He's a very charismatic and persuasive leader," Pleasants said. "And when he wants to do something, he does it, on a clothesline. He's an angel."

They set a removable date for a few weeks later. However, Pleasants wasn't sure.

Hershman shares letters of encouragement that his Yale classmates wrote in Thanksgiving.

After a week, Hershman returned to check out The Pleasures and share a series of supportive, encouraging messages that his classmates had sent to Yale. He was "terrified enough to embarrass his family and Yale's biological family to make history," he said, referring to a CNN report.

"To know he didn't, and had inspired people and touched people's hearts, meant the world to him," Hershman said in the text. "The messages are really what made Shawn decide to get out of the way."

A new life still feels like a fleeting fantasy

Beneficiaries' items consisted of a series of grocery carts with clothes, blankets, and other unspecified items. The nails attached to the trolleys formed a roof. A basket of clothes held closed cereal boxes she had taken from a food cellar. His stuff seemed to take half a block.

But he left everything behind except for some clothes he had packed in garbage bags and luggage he had acquired on the road. The hosts also held a battery-operated candle that would "mentally warm him" and a baseball bat he held for protection.

Homelessness is at an emergency level in Los Angeles

"Sometimes I had to mess up the bat because I didn't know what was going to happen," he said. "I had been stabbed in the back by someone I didn't even know. And my husband had been cut with a knife by a total stranger in the night."

As he prepared to bid farewell, Pleasants, his partner, and Hershman, along with other homeless residents, formed a circle to say a prayer.

"Let's not forget where we come from, what we've gone through and where we hope to go," he told the team.

Walking away, tears welling up in his eyes, Pleasants said he was "nervous and happy". They were scheduled to stop on a McDonald's route, but at the last minute they decided to overlook it, anxious to see what to expect.

Hershman had arranged for Pleasants and his partner to stay in a hostel on the back of a kindly LA estate. It features a swimming pool and basketball court. It is located behind a gate and is completely private. The hostel big enough to accommodate two people has its own kitchen, which Hershman has stocked with all of his favorite foods.

Entering their new excavations, the men went straight to the bathroom and spent several minutes hovering over a sink, washing their hands.

Even weeks after leaving the streets, Thanksgiving continued to acclimate.

In the hostel, Pleasants still holds the baseball bat he used for protection in the homeless camp near him at night.

"At some point, someone is going to say, 'April Stars,' and it's over," he said.

Thanks for dealing with prolonged medical problems, including his vision. One congenital condition left him blind in one eye and advanced glaucoma threatens the other. Meanwhile, David recovered from a cardiac surgery treatment of a genetic disorder.

The ambitious are facing some previous emotional traumas, including the death of his mother in 2010, which he said contributed to his downward spiral.

In the crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles, Skid Row is everywhere

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

Drug abuse, however, remains a work in progress. The ambitious and David have left their union sometimes and Hersman believes they may have taken drugs.

It's easy to say, Hershman said, when he didn't use it.

"He looks flattered, more depressed," he said, adding that his addiction is real – a crutch – and covers a lot of the pain.

"I'm never good at doing a cold turkey. Life is in the middle," Pleasants said, adding that the drug discharge is "equivalent to my credibility".

Making plans to get sober and share his story

Guests were being treated to a rehabilitation facility on Friday in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Tarzana, Hershman told CNN.

The Thanksgiving companion will arrive a few weeks later, after complete recovery from cardiac surgery.

"I'm ready," Pleasants said by phone Thursday, adding that he "felt a bit restless" but that he "felt like he was responsible."

Hershman was ready to face the cost of 30 days of Thanksgiving treatment, which he said amounts to just over $ 10,000. However, upon entering the facility, he unexpectedly learned that the California Medicaid program, called Medi-Cal, would cover the cost.

It also helps Benefactors settle into more permanent housing using a recently received Federal Corporation voucher.

A mother of twin teenage boys working as a freelance consultant, Hershman said it was a "24-hour presence for Thanksgiving.

Through it all, he has written the experience with the help of a videographer. They have visions of a television material "that takes viewers through this journey what they go through," he said.

The ambitious think it could change people's perceptions of homelessness.

Hershman and Pleasants visit his temporary hostel.

"From the soup to the nuts, you will see everything, you will see the good points, you will see the bad points because it must be real," he said. "We are people with a myriad of different circumstances. There are people from all cultures, countries, age groups and professions."

Policy experts point to the lack of affordable housing in California as the primary reason for the endemic homelessness. The friends do not disagree.

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

Ambitious also want to draw attention to the lack of facilities just to "clean your clothes".

Los Angeles homeless deaths more than doubled since 2013, report says

"To get to work and get out, you need to shower somewhere. We need to find a computer to make a CV, where do we need to do these things?" he said, adding that he and Hershman are ideological ways to promote their ideas for a resource center.

In the meantime, he has written a note that will be included in the next installment of Yale's alumni magazine. Hershman shared it with CNN, reading in part: "I want to thank all the graduates for their support, understanding and compassion … and their critical eye on what's going on in my situation. 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 of where I'm going. Thank you for the fact that – on a level that 'values ​​another Yalie'.

In the short term, Pleasants said it wants to be worthy of its new lease on life – made possible by a news story – and a woman who felt inspired to act.

She also knows there are people out there who are wondering if she will blow it up, she said, and end up back on the streets.

"I hope it's not hell," he said. "And I hope for their sake that they don't lose their land because they will experience some of the worst times I have had and no matter who you are, it is a possibility."