Fred is an African American man in his 70’s. Fred is a very colorful, salty, and well liked character. Fred makes everyone laugh. A strong and hardworking man, Fred was employed all of his working years in the south, mainly in the automobile manufacturing industry. Fred came from a large family of hard working people, but never had a family of his own. After retirement, Fred’s drinking habits progressed into chronic alcoholism, burned bridges with his family, and eventually in to homelessness as a transient. Fred’s monthly retirement checks were consistently spent on buying alcohol for him and the people he met on the street as he migrated across the country.
Fred ended up in Coeur d’ Alene in 2013. Shortly after arriving he had a stroke which left him partially paralyzed and living on the street. On two different occasions Fred was taken in by ‘friends’ who helped him spend his monthly retirement check on beer and cigarettes. Fred would often be seen limping around Coeur d’ Alene dragging his belongings behind him- alone and exploited.
Fred came to the 2nd Street Commons (a ministry of Kaleidoscope Community Services) during the late winter of 2014, and became a ‘frequent flyer’- a regular fixture. We all enjoyed his humor and respected his resiliency. Even though his circumstances were dire- he was always up. As we got to know Fred, and as we became more aware of his situation, we began to look for a way to get Fred off the street. A friend of Kaleidoscope Community Services (KCS) became aware of Fred’s situation and agreed to sell Fred a really nice, older motorhome for $ 500.00. KCS paid for the first month at a local RV park, where Fred lived for 8 months.
As Fred’s health began to decline, it became apparent the Fred was not going to be able to live alone. KCS rented a house and moved Fred into his own room with two men who had agreed to help Fred. Fred loved living in that old house! He said that it had been many years since he lived under a real roof, felt safe at night, and had real friends who didn’t expect anything from him.
After four months we began to see significant decline in Fred’s health. One morning we got a call from one of Fred’s room-mates that Fred was not responding to him. An ambulance was called and Fred was transported to the emergency room where it was diagnosed that Fred had suffered a major stroke. Fred was transferred to Hospice House where he passed 10 days later.
Fred did not die homeless. Fred did not die alone. Fred was surrounded by people who cared for him. It was an honor to help Fred in life, and an honor to serve him by attending to his funeral and cremation after he died.