Lew wants to cut meat. Preferably behind the butcher counter at any given super market. Problem is no one's hiring. At least right now. But Lew tells me he's got his resume at a couple places and something could "pop" soon. That "pop" means a paycheck, something Lew hasn't seen in several months.
Lew and I talk about the path that led him to a life without a home on the benches outside the Columbia Museum of Art on Main Street.
"How did you become homeless?" When the sentence comes out of my mouth I realize how stupid that sounds but it's too late to take it back. That word is used so often but somehow when you are living the life that word is just a label used by people who really don't understand.
Lew humors me and says "I wouldn't say I'm homeless. More like jobless." It hits me that a home really is open to interpretation. Jobless, not so subjective. You either have one or you don't. Lew does not. But he did.
Lew was living with his brother after divorcing his wife and mother to his 16 year old son. He started to pick up lawn care jobs around his brother's neighborhood. Word spread that Lew was good and before he knew it Lew was making a decent living. He brought in just enough to get by but not enough to save for a rainy day.
Lew's rainy day came in the form of a massive heart attack killing his brother. Lew couldn't keep up with the mortgage he and his brother were paying. He left the house and showed up at the doorsteps of Oliver Gospel. He was accepted to their Hand Up program - a service designed to help men land jobs, teach them the skills to keep the jobs, and get a home of their own.
Lew feels like he's close. The lady at the chicken plant said they had something in processing, but with a wink she tells Lew she sees him more of a packaging man. That wink and the notion that she saw him doing bigger and better things outside of plucking and gutting chickens makes his face light up. The lady behind the desk says something will be open in a matter of weeks.