We went to a Church that serves hot lunch for the homeless and people who simply can’t afford to buy food, TeeJay was one of the lovely people we met. He was immediately on board and excited to take part in the project. We waited for him to finish his lunch then went outside to take his jumping photos.
What I didn’t expect was his incredible energy! He hopped around like a little kid on a pogo stick. I could barely keep up with his jumps and he had me laying on the ground laughing so hard I could barely take the photos.
What I learned about TeeJay from our conversation was that he had been living on the streets since he was 12 years old. He’s been diagnosed with multiple mental and physical ailments and has no home to go to, nowhere to rest and no one to help take care of him. The night before this photo was taken, he slept in the desert without a blanket – and it gets very cold and windy at night in the desert. He sometimes gets to stay in one of the very few shelters in Palm Springs, but was recently kicked out because of a dispute over a sleeping bag with another person at the shelter. He is tired and wishes he had a home to go to. I can only imagine how stressful and lonely this must feel.
However, his difficulties and struggles did not get in the way of him wanting to share joy with the world and he was proud to take part in this community project. For just a few minutes, he got to let go of his struggles, play, create and share the innate joy that exists within all of us, no matter our circumstances.
TeeJay, won’t see this post. He doesn’t have a phone, a computer or a home… but I want to thank him here anyway, for sharing his jumping joy with us.
We are a community, his community. What can we do to help him?
If you’d like to help out people in Palm Springs who need a hand up, please make a Donation to the Well in the Desert.
Thank you to the Palm Springs Cultural Center inviting me to be your first Artist in residence and bringing the Jump for Joy Photo Project to the Coachella Valley.
If you live in the Coachella Valley and would like more info on the project, or would like to take part, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org