"I started reading it – and just tears," said Kim Hershman, who had studied a year before Pleasants at Yale. Although they were barely acquainted then, Hershman immediately felt obliged to help, especially after she learned that Pleasant's camp was only miles from her home.
"When we were at Yale in the 1980s, there were very few black students there," Hershman recalled. "Things are very different now. But I know that for everything he achieved, something changed, and he didn't have the support I might have."
Hershman, a Hollywood business adviser, is also a lawyer who also graduated from Yale Law School. She took her alumni network for guidance and encouragement, and a flood of posts soon appeared on a Facebook page for black Yale alumni.
"If Kim wants to do something, I'd better not stand in the way," wrote one member.
"Would he be willing to accept the offer of help?" asked another.
There was only one way to find out. The day after my CNN story surfaced online, Hershman made his way to Koreatown to try to find Pleasants in the middle of tent camps.
"I was a little nervous because I was," Where am I going? I'm a 5-foot-1 female, "she recalled, fearing it might not be safe.
Hershman – escorted by two Yale alumni, including her significant other – began asking homeless people in the area if they knew where the Plants were "Yes," someone finally told her. "He's around the corner."
She had a familiar face and a convincing offer
Nearly everyone in Shawn Pleasants & # 39; path was homeless, like him. Some who passed by were friendly ("When people say: 'Good morning', it really makes a difference," he would want others to know.) Others were indifferent or rude.
So when the woman wearing a Yale hat took a seat next to him on the sidewalk and grabbed his hand, Pleasants knew this was no ordinary visitor. When he saw the hat's "Y" logo, his mind jumped back to it. the magic environment on the Yales campus in New Haven, Connecticut.
"I had a look t maybe seven or eight times at school, "he recalled.
Although they had never been formally introduced, Pleasants knew who she was.
But why had she met him today? he wondered.
After a few minutes of small talk, Hershman had a simple but extremely complicated question for a man who lived on the streets for a decade.
"My big thing was:" What do you want? And based on what you want, I'll do what I can to help you, "she told CNN, recalling the first conversation.
" I want to make a difference, "replied Pleasants." I'm in this situation , and there must be a reason for everything, and I want to help others. "
They talked about the possibilities The plants explained their vision for a homeless resource center, where people living in the streets could take showers, get mail, charge a phone or iron a shirt. to meet some critical needs, he told her, was desperately needed.
Hershman made no promises, but she assured the Plantsants that if he would accept her help, she would get him off the streets and help him regain his foot in life.
But it found s a catch, and it was non-negotiable: He must accept drug rehabilitation.
Over the years, Pleasants had rejected similar offers from the family.
This time he said yes – but with his own warning: "I have to bring my husband," he told Hershman, referring to his longtime partner, David, who had lived with Pleasants for several years, already before they both became homeless.
"She is quite charismatic and a convincing leader," Pleasants said. "And when she wants to do something, she does it through golly. She's an angel."
They set a transfer date a few weeks later. Still, Pleasants were not safe.
After a week, Hershman returned to check out Plantsants and share a lot of supportive, encouraging messages their Yale classmates had sent. He had been "quite frightened because he had joked his Yale family and biological family into making history," she said, citing CNN's reports.
"Knowing that he had not, and inspired people and touched people's hearts, meant the world to him," Hershman said via text. "The messages are really what made Shawn decide to move out of the street."
A new life still feels like a volatile fantasy
The plant's possessions consisted of a series of food carts surpassed with clothing, blankets and other built-up objects. Tarps connected to the wagons formed a roof. A laundry basket contained unopened cereal boxes he had received from a food pantry. His things seemed to take half a block.
But he left everything behind, except for some clothes he packed in garbage and luggage he had provided on the street. The plants also held a battery-powered candle that would "mentally heat" him and a baseball bat he held for protection.