Home / US / A Yale grad and ex-banker ended up homeless in Los Angeles. Then a colleague's argument made an unexpected offer

A Yale grad and ex-banker ended up homeless in Los Angeles. Then a colleague's argument made an unexpected offer



"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."

  Shawn Pleasants had always excelled in school.

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.

  Plants lived on a sidewalk in Los Angeles for ten years. He said he was among the few who had a laptop.

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. "

  Shawn Pleasants noticed the Yale logo on Kim Hershman & # 39; s hat.

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.

Hershman agreed.

"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.

  Hershman shares encouraging letters that their Yale classmates wrote to Pleasants.

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.

  Homelessness reaches an emergency level in Los Angeles

As he prepared to say goodbye, Plantsants, his partner and Hershman, along with some other homeless residents, formed a circle to say a prayer.

"Let's not forget where we come from, what we have been through and where we hopefully go," he said hard to the group.

Riding away, tears well in his eyes, Pleasants said he was "nervous and happy." They had planned to stop at a McDonald's drive but at the last minute they decided to skip it, worried to see what awaited them.

Hershman had arranged for Pleasants and his partner to stay in a guest house on the back of a fine LA property. It has a pool and a basketball court. It sits behind a gate and is completely private. The guest house, more than large enough to accommodate two people, has its own kitchen which Hershman had filled with all his favorite foods.

As they entered their new digs, the men went straight to the bathroom and spent several minutes hovering over a sink and washing their hands.

Even weeks after leaving the streets, Pleasants were still adjusting.

  At the boarding house, Plantsants still holds the baseball tree that he used for shelter at the homeless camp near him at night.

"Somebody is going to say, & # 39; April Fools & # 39 ;, and it's over," he said.

Pleasants have dealt with remaining medical problems, including with his vision. A congenital condition left him blind in one eye, and advanced glaucoma threatens the other. Meanwhile, David has recovered from heart surgery to deal with a genetic disorder.

Plants will also face some previous emotional trauma, including his mother's death in 2010, which he said contributed to his downward spiral. [19659040] In LA's homelessness crisis, Skid Row is everywhere "data-src-mini =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190606182326-lz-granderson-small-169.jpg "data-src- xsmall = "// cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190606182326-lz-granderson-medium-plus-169.jpg" data-src-small = "http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/ dam / assets / 190606182326-lz-granderson-large-169.jpg "data-src-medium =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190606182326-lz-granderson-exlarge-169.jpg "data -src-large = "// cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190606182326-lz-granderson-super-169.jpg" data-src-full16x9 = "// cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam /assets/190606182326-lz-granderson-full-169.jpg "data-src-mini1x1 =" // cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190606182326-lz-granderson-small-11.jpg "data- demand-load = "not-loaded" data-eq-pts = "mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781" src = "data: image / gif; base64, R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP // ///// wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI + py + 0Po5yUFQA7 "/>

Hershman faces the cost of 30 days of treatment for Pleasants, which she said amounts to just over $ 10,000. Fellow Yale alum has offered to contribute, she said, though no refunds or financial arrangements have been made. The price tag could also rise because "they can recommend that he stay longer than 30 days," she said.

She is also helping Plantsants to settle in more permanent housing with the help of a federally subsidized Section 8 voucher, which he recently received.

A mother of twin teenage boys working as an independent consultant, Hershman said she has been a "round the clock presence for Pleasants.

Throughout, she has gained experience with the help of a videographer. They have visions of a television document "that takes viewers through this journey of everything they go through," she said.

Pleasants believe it can change people's perception of homelessness.

  Hershman and Pleasants visit his temporary boarding house.

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

Political experts point to the lack of affordable housing in California as the main reason for endemic homelessness. Pleasants disagree.

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

Plants also want to pay attention to the lack of facilities just to "clean your clothes."

  Deaths among homeless people in Los Angeles have doubled since 2013, according to the report

"To get a job and get out, you need somewhere to shower. We need to get a computer to do a resume. Where are we going to do those things?" He said, adding that he and Hershman brainstormed ways to promote his ideas for a resource.

Meanwhile, he wrote a note to be included in the next section of Yale's alumni magazine. Hershman shared it with CNN and read in part: "I want to thank all the students for their support, understanding and compassion … and their critical eye on what's going on in my situation. I don't just want charity. I need critical and constructive help ( when it comes to advice or real goods and services); not just someone throwing money at me … I need more than one helping hand. I need a map of where I'm going. Thank you for providing it – at a level that "another Yalie" appreciates. "

In the short term, Pleasants said he would host his new life loan – made possible by a single news story – and a woman who felt inspired to act.

He also knows that there are people out there who are wondering if he will blow it up, he said, ending back on the streets.

"I hope not to," he said. "And I hope for their sake that they don't lose their footing because they will experience some of the worst times I've experienced. And it doesn't matter who you are, it's an opportunity."


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