Feb. 26 2008 01:55 AM

Our weekly series putting faces on San Diego's homeless

homeless-prime

Like many native San Diegans, Steve (not his real name) grew up with a surf obsession he just couldn't shake. After riding the waves for years, Steve says his parents, a well-off Coronado couple, eventually called a family meeting, during which his uncle offered him a fully paid college education and a brand new surfboard, as long as he agreed to take life more seriously.

“And I just said no,” Steve recalls. “That's not what I want to do. I want to go surfing tomorrow.”

So he surfed. Then he tried his hand at professional volleyball, and he wasn't bad at that. But a broken neck put an end to his dreams, and his new goal became opening a surf shop in Mexico. By this time, his family had given up on him.

“I was always so promising in the industries I was working in, and my family saw that,” Steve says, “but then I'd drop everything to go on these spontaneous surf trips.”

A year ago, Steve took a trip down to Tijuana and rented an apartment in preparation for opening a surf shop, but two months into his stay, his financing fell apart. Homeless, he crossed back to San Diego.

“At first, I thought [sleeping on the streets] would be just like another one of my surf trips,” he says.

But it wasn't. One rainy night, while he was standing under a bridge after recovering from slipping on another homeless man's feces, he told himself he was done living on the streets.

“I finally reached a spot where I was just kinda telling myself maybe it's just over,” he says. “Maybe the word ‘temporary' has been temporary.”

Steve joined up at Saint Vincent de Paul, a downtown homelessness charity, but he found the programs too fast-paced. So, for the first time in his life, at the age of 36, he made a decision to do something a bit more permanent. Two months ago, he signed up for the yearlong program at the San Diego Rescue Mission, a religious homelessness charity in Bankers Hill. He's using the year to get his life in order: He's working toward going back to school and getting a good job.

If he completes the Rescue Mission program, he'll have earned 12 college credits. “I have an opportunity to just leap into what I've always wanted, which is a college education,” he says.

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Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28