An exceptional man and his journey: Exhibit B

James. June 1, 2014.

James. June 1, 2014.

Yesterday I gave an update on Brian D’Apice and his 10,000-mile Bicycle Around America solo trek for charity.

Today brings the tale of another exceptional man on a very different journey.

Here in Central New York, my homeless friend James pushes a shopping cart several miles a day.

James, 49, is a survivor and a loner.

He sleeps on a bench under some trees, between the county justice center and a building designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei to house art.

A couple of weeks ago while James slept, someone stole his shopping cart. It held everything he owned except what he was wearing. James also relied on it to transport the returnable bottles and cans he redeems for a nickel apiece.

Ever resourceful, James obtained a wheeled trash toter, but it was hard to maneuver and he didn’t go far with it. Collecting returnables was difficult.

James’ informal network of supporters stepped up. They brought him clothes, gift cards, sneakers — and a replacement shopping cart.

The cart came about when a colleague of mine told a grocery store manager about James’ situation. The next day, she and her husband picked up a well-used but very functional cart.

James is back in business, making his daily rounds pushing the cart through Syracuse. His life, his journey, play out in an area no larger than a few square miles.

For a closer look at James, check out this fine video by Kevin Rivoli, a photojournalist with The Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in Homeless, Irish Investigations, poverty and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to An exceptional man and his journey: Exhibit B

  1. There are fine people every where Jim. James and his friends are proof.


  2. Good lord. Who would be so low as to steal a homeless man’s cart? I like the happy ending though. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Having read your posts about James before, I was thrilled to hear his voice Jim! Thanks for continuing to share about James. Often the homeless are invisible; you’re making sure that’s not true about James. ❤
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ksbeth says:

    how wonderful that you, and the community at large are, to recognize and respect people who may be marginalized in other places.


    • Jim McKeever says:

      Thanks, Beth … James really does have quite a few folks looking out for him. He’s the ideal candidate for a ‘tiny house’ (there are plans for some to be built soon in the city), but there are qualifications, going through an agency, etc. James prefers to operate on his own terms, after bad experiences with shelters, agencies, etc. I’d like to find him an alternative before winter.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Angie Mc says:

    Love that you have these exceptional men back to back, Jim. Perfect.


  6. Like John Callaghan said in his comment, “Who would be low enough to steal someone’s shopping cart?” I agree with you, Jim, that the thief/thieves were probably after the contents.

    What amazes me about James is his survival skills in Central New York’s brutal winters. He’s a proud man and trying to make a go of it on his own. I wish him all the best. The video and your story certainly does put a “face” on the homeless. Many don’t see the homeless as they rush by.


    • Jim McKeever says:

      Judy, he’s a remarkable man, one of the most resilient people I’ve ever met. There have been some winter days when I freeze just standing out there with him for a few minutes. Then I have to retreat to my warm car and later, to a warm bed. A lot of nights I lie there and wonder how the hell he does it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Losing your belongings is one of the perils of homelessness — whether rough sleeping in in a shelter.

    So sad.

    and so glad your friend got support.


  8. Amy says:

    Wonderful to recognize the faces we usually pass without a second glance. We are all in this journey together whether we live in a mansion or out of a shopping car. Thank you for helping to connect us


  9. Such good news that you and Jame’s other supporters are looking to find him a more permanent place to stay. You walk your talk.

    Excellent post.


  10. markbialczak says:

    I saw James tooling around with his cart up on my end of James Street last week, Jim, and both wondered why and worried that he was out of his usual area. But the light changed and off I went in my car, and I’ve not seen him in this stretch again.


  11. kathe32 says:

    James hits Eastwood/Shop City area regularly.

    Liked by 1 person

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