Meet Kelly — She Wants to Go Back to School and Be A Counselor

We recently teamed up with Naji H. Kelley and BLNDED Media for a 5-part photo series on homelessness and life on the streets of Austin.

Thanks for talking with us, Kelly. You were a pleasure to be around. Photo credit: Naji H. Kelley.

This is Kelly.

We met Kelly as we roamed downtown Austin around the 6th and 7th street blocks, looking to chat with people living on the streets. Kelly is one of five people we talked with and this series is meant as a quick snapshot into their lives to better understand homelessness in our community.

“Will you hand me that piece of cardboard right there? Yea, that’s a good one. That’s what you want out here.”

Kelly was washing her clothes in the alley when we met. This felt like a very common thing, despite being across the street from Front Steps. Naturally, the irony was certainly validating given Front Steps’ current campaign aimed at a new washing machine to help solve this exact problem.

Kelly was carrying a piece of cardboard, her purse, a bag, a few changes of clothes, and a bath towel when we met her. Photo credit: Naji H. Kelley

Kelly was sweet. She was polite and considerate. I could tell that she thought we were out in the Austin heat for a reason, so she felt good about talking to us. She wanted to help.

This is what we told us:

“I was born and raised right here in Austin.”

“Food is my favorite food. Because my mother didn’t always have food in the house. We always had clothes, everybody had clothes, but not always food.”

“My parents, my sister and I at Highland Park Baptist Church on Halloween my kindergarten years, I think. We were singing in a talent show. As Baptists, we sang and we danced and we smoked and we drank. We did everything we weren’t supposed to do. But that’s still one of my favorite memories.”

“I’m just trying to get off of the street you know? I want to go back to school and be a counselor. Tell some kids my story.”

If you’d like to help Kelly and hundreds of others currently living on the Austin streets, give to Front Steps and help them buy a new, industrial grade washing machine. More clean clothes = less homelessness in Austin.

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