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Our mission is to warm those in need through knitting, crocheting, looming and quilting. Our NEW hand made items provide hope to those living outdoors and those in temporary shelters. We provide for Men, Women, and Children in Central Ohio all year long. Specific details available by clicking item specific tabs, or the Who we Help Tab. If you have further questions, please contact me via the contact form. ALL DONATIONS MUST INCLUDE A NOTE WITH AN EMAIL ADDRESS.



Goal: 36
Start: #29
Current: 30

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Jack Otis, The Face of Homelessness


Meet my fellow classmate and friend, Jack Otis. By the hair style you might be able to guess the photo is from the sixty's. 1969 was the graduating year to be exact. Look at that infectious smile and twinkle in his eyes. Now for folks younger then me, seeing this picture -- you might be shocked to see someone dressed for their senior picture. Being barefoot, in casual clothes, outside leaning on a tree or sitting with the family pet was never ever done! The men always wore coats and ties, and the ladies always wore the same blouse for uniformity. Ladies could wear a fluffy cape looking thing the photographer supplied for an extra fee.

Jack Otis graduated from Whetstone High School back in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. Unlike most of my classmates I didn't know Jack for eons and eons. We didn't attend grade school and junior high together. His family didn't live in the same neighborhood forever, like so many of us. In fact, very little is known about Jack's family. Jack lived with his Dad. None of us knew anything about his mother, except that she wasn't around. Those who knew his home life, remembered his Dad as not being a particularly stable person. Jack was new to our school, he came from someplace in Kentucky. Some classmates believe he moved around a lot.

During those high school years, classmates remember Jack as fun to be with, perhaps even a bit on the wilder side. He was full of life, a bit ornery. Not wild as in bad, but not a mild quiet, stay to oneself type of person. He liked to drink PBR (translation for the younger set, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer). I should also add that drinking at age 18 was legal back in our day. We had what was called low beer, 3.2 and those 18-19 and 20 could drink that, but you had to be 21 to drink hard liquor and or high beer...high beer is the beer that's out now days. 3.2 no longer exists.

Jack like to drive around on old trails in his Bugged Eyed Sprite (sports car). He was chosen to be Nancy Edgars' escort for The Home Coming Court. That was a big deal, back in the day. Jack was popular folks. He was well liked, he was good looking guy...which you can clearly see from his picture.

He was born (as best I can tell from research) on June 14th, 1951. He died in the year 2000, alone and penny-less. He died homeless in the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona. He lived in a hobo camp outside the city limits and is buried in a small paupers grave in Pima County, Arizona. That area set aside in the cemetery for those without family, those who are indigent, those who have no means of another burial.

Did Jack choose this life? Did the life choose him? What happened to make this smiling good looking young man die alone and homeless? We know he chose to travel some after graduation, and for a short while, we know a fellow classmate gave him lodging in Tucson. That didn't last long, as Jack returned to the hobo camp and died sometime later. Did his sad unstable home life play into this? Who knows. But, this is the face of homelessness folks. I'm willing to bet you all have someone in your past with a similar story. He was someone's son. He was a friend. It makes me sad to know he's buried in a pauper's grave. The reality that truly anyone can be homeless is a sobering fact.
This isn't a newly written post, but is so important, I thought I would re-cycle it.  Homelessness does have a face, it's perhaps easier to ignore the problem if we fail to understand it does indeed have a face, a face of a friend, a relative, a co-worker; or perhaps a neighbor.  There are many people who judge homeless in a very negative manner.  There is sadly, sometimes a general feeling that homeless people are all criminals, on drugs etc.  But, homelessness happens to all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons.  Some we understand, some we do not.  Can you put a face to homelessness?  If so, please share.



  1. I remember reading this from a few years ago. It was so sad to read about someone you knew. It is still sad to read. Too many people are just one paycheck away from being homeless.

  2. Sad, but thank you for posting it again

  3. Thank you Sue and Cynthia for visiting, reading and commenting. I truly appreciate your support.


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