For most of the men at Central Union Mission, the street has proved to be a lonely place.
“When you're down and out, you think nobody cares nothing about you,” says Charles Hill, a homeless man staying at the mission. It’s attitudes like that Earl Smith is working to change.
“It's a privilege, actually,” says Smith, a cook at the mission. He’s worked here since 2009. “In 2009, I came through the spiritual transformation program,” he says. Smith lived at the mission for a year while be battled emotional problems and teetered on the edge of addition.
“Earl is really good example of a guy who came here with a large number of problems,” says David Treadwell, the executive director. Smith says through the faith-based programs here he was able to find life again.
“Before I graduated, they asked me to cook,” he says.
“And he's a good cook,” Treadwell says. “So the guys love it when he cooks.” If you ask around, appreciation doesn’t stop at the kitchen.
“It makes me feel that I can do it,” says Charles Barrow, a man living at the mission. Earl has quickly become a living example of life after homelessness. “It's a blessing, it's just a blessing,” Barrow says.
“If I can do it, anyone can do it,” Smith says. As he gazes into the dining hall, it’s like a quick glance into the past.
“They're out there, they have no other place to go,” says Smith. “That’s what I’m thankful for, seeing them.”
Cooking for those who need it and feeding his soul.