Looking Past Homelessness

By Dr. Chad Audi

Isn’t it interesting how some people can leave a lasting impression on so many others? Two recent stories remind me that regardless of a person’s social background or economic standing, it’s the human spirit inside that truly makes a difference.

Guy Myers of Sunnyvale, California was better known as “Guitar Man.” He was homeless, yet he always found a place in his heart to help others. Even more than he helped himself. According to his son, Myers battled an alcohol addiction for several years. He slept in the bushes off a major highway and was a fixture at several Sunnyvale locations where he would strum his guitar and sing for passersby. Tragically, the 58-year-old Myers was fatally struck by a car last month. The community has reacted with an outpouring of support. A shrine was erected outside a 7-Eleven store where Myers often hung out, and he was remembered in several online messages. A retired school employee wrote a poem about Myers called, “Ramblin’ Guitar Man.”

Here in Detroit, regular visitors to our popular Greektown neighborhood — a dining and shopping destination — became very familiar with an elderly woman known as “Greektown Stella.” Stella Paris was believed to be in her mid-90s when she died last month at a Detroit nursing home. For nearly three decades, she lived on the streets of Greektown, frequently screaming in Greek at passersby. The feisty, eccentric woman suffered from schizophrenia. She was loved by family and strangers, but her mental illness often made life difficult. The police allowed Greektown Stella to sleep and wash her clothes at the nearby headquarters and kept a watchful eye on her safety. Despite her quirky and combative personality, Stella was a beloved fixture in Greektown.

Both are examples of individuals who were homeless, but who touched numerous lives. In Myers’ case, he seemed to care more about other people than he cared about himself. He just wanted to make people happy with his music. Stella Paris provided a colorful part of Greektown’s history and will be missed by many. In their own unique ways, they created lasting memories for many.

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