He was bundled up in two ragged old coats
Mitchell is homeless. He lives on the streets of Gallup, New Mexico. Mitchell is totally unique. Of course, we could say that about any person we may find living on the street. In the case of Mitchell though, he does not fit any description I have ever known.
I had never met Mitchell until about 3 months ago, given that I am from Crownpoint and have not spent much time on the streets of Gallup New Mexico.
Recently, I have been spending more time in Gallup, working at the soup kitchen and working with the project office at the Southwest Indian Foundation.My first knowledge of Mitchell was when a very good woman who runs one of the town laundry mats came into our office. I could overhear her talking about this gentle homeless man who was beaten up last night because he was protecting one of her lady patrons who was taking her laundry to her car.
She was retelling the story of how this homeless man Mitchell was a "guardian angel" for her customers. Her would keep a look out in her parking lot,especially for the women and children. This good woman had cleaned up the cuts and bruises on Mitchell's head and face, and fed him. She was really appealing to us to help get him off of the streets where she feared that he would not live much longer.
After doing some more investigating, I found that Mitchell has been a homeless orphan since he was 13 years old. He has wandered up into Colorado, down to the Mexican Border and out to Los Angeles. As a Navajo, he always seem to find his way back to his ancestral lands and Gallup.
Now, at around 40 years of age, he looks much older. Some of his skin has been frost bitten from the winter elements. His eyes are severely sunken and his ears are gnarled from exposure to the harsh elements.It turns out that that despite these difficulties in his life, Mitchell is one of the kindest souls you would ever meet. He is bright and sensitive. Although he is slightly nervous and apprehensive because he has been roughed up and robbed over the years, he personally would not hurt a flea. I have heard stories how he looks after the most vulnerable of the street community.
I heard a story that during the winter chill we had about 5 weeks ago, he built a "lean to" for an elderly homeless woman out of cardboard and rags behind a tunnel to keep her out of the wind. He made a special trip to find her food and water during a snow storm. In some ways, Mitchell is the stuff of which heroes are made. Why he is on the street is a complicated question. I only wish you could see his smile and his eyes sparkle. It would be easy to understand why he may be bitter or even demented but the opposite is true. I have seen him beam with joy over the smallest little pleasure. I handed him a tortilla one morning and I saw his eyes well up with goodness. To sum it up,
Mitchell is a good man, with a pure heart.I am really worried about Mitchell's feet. His frost bite from this last winter had gotten worse. His feet almost have no circulation at all. My Doctor examined Mitchell last week for us. The doctor doubts Mitchell will last another winter.So, what is to be done? Very simply, Mitchell will not take "charity". He wants "earn his keep" (his words). He picks up trash and cans all over town during the day. He made an attempt to contract with the City to be an informal "garbage collector". He does not want a hand out.
Although the poorest of the poor, he has a dignity.It turns out, Mitchell and I have a mutual friend who has a piece of property on the edge of town. Our friend offered to let Mitchell place a small one room structure on his property. This is a an ideal solution. We can build this modest structurewe can provide Mitchell with a new home for a very modest price.
I have penciled out the numbers. We can do everything needed to provide this home for Mitchell for under $6,700. He wants a very small simple place. He wants to help with the construction and pledges to continue cleaning up Gallup and the surrounding area.I am so motivated now. I am almost certain that if we do not act now, Mitchell will not be with us this time next year. I am coming to you with an open heart and open hand.
Please help me help Mitchell. If we can help him in this very real way, he can and will help himself.
You can help by donating here for all our projects: Southwest Indian Foundation Donation page
May God Bless you Always, Deacon Sherman Manuelito
P.S. On behalf of the Southwest Indian Foundation, I would like to thank you for your past support. Please look kindly on your Native brothers and sisters who live in extreme poverty.
May you have a blessed Spring season. UPDATE:Mitchell has a new home! Thank you so much for helping with this project. There are many more we are helping with new homes so keep those donations and purchases coming. With great gratitude we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The Southwest Indian Foundation