A writer can never quite predict the reaction his published words might evoke. That was never truer than the reaction to the Sept. 1 cover feature in Monday entitled “Green Crows.” It was a piece that told the story behind some of the fellows who eke out a living in our downtown core by rooting through dumpsters in search of recyclable bottles and other containers.
Kaitlin wrote in to say, “I just finished reading your ‘Green Crows’ article and I would like to thank you . . . People tend to judge so quickly when they see someone living on the street . . . it really can happen to anyone.”
Kaitlin was one of many who were especially touched by Ron Bough’s story. Ron struggles with some mental health issues, lives outside and had been robbed of his prized possession; a guitar. He was trying to save enough to buy another because the music helped him through his chronic depression.
Another reader, Karen Burton, offered Ron a guitar. She’d been touched by the story and wanted to help.
That left us with the problem of finding Ron again. It took some doing, but we did. He’s living under a bridge now because the rains have started for the winter and his camp beside the Galloping Goose trail is just too cold. Karen dropped off her guitar at the Monday office and I arranged to meet Ron outside Wal-Mart.
“Tell her thank you for me,” Ron said with a smile. “It’s good to know that some people still care. When I get back on my feet, I’ll try to help others, too.”
With that, he took the guitar from its case and started playing. As I was leaving, one fellow stopped, listened for a minute, and dropped a few coins in the guitar case.
The feature story touched a different nerve, however, with one woman who was angry about one of the other homeless men spotlighted. “That man ruined my life,” she explained. I checked out her story and found that the fellow in question had broken into her home while she was away and taken up residence for a while. He had trashed the place. She wanted people to know that he wasn’t the nice guy we had portrayed him to be.
“He’s not a crow, he’s a vulture!” she told me.
Several other people wrote and called to thank Monday for publishing a piece that highlighted the plight of homelessness in Victoria. M