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For San Diego’s Homeless, One Man Offers Hope

Source: VPR Morning Edition, March 7, 2011, Pam Fessler

This is an inspiring story about homelessness in San Diego, and one Man’s quest to help.

“David Ross, also known as Waterman Dave, hands out bottled water and energy drinks from his trunk in San Diego. The 75-year-old retiree has made it his mission to help the homeless — even if it’s just with a hug or a kind word.”

“Hundreds of people sleep on San Diego’s streets each night, on corners, beneath the interstate and across from the public library. They hang out in small groups or sit alone, watching the time pass. But when a wiry man with dark glasses approaches, everyone seems to perk up.

The man is David Ross, better known as Waterman Dave. For years, he’s handed out hundreds of bottles of water each day to the homeless. He’s a 75-year-old retiree who’s made it his mission to help the homeless — even if it’s just with a hug or a kind word.

Many who live on these streets turn to him for help — and hope. The city has joined about 70 others in a new national campaign to get 100,000 long-term homeless people into permanent housing over the next three years. But many of San Diego’s homeless say they’ll believe it when they see it. They’ve been disappointed before.

Men and women shout out greetings when Waterman Dave approaches in his old, beat-up black car. He calls it his “Homeless Hyundai,” though he’s not homeless himself.

“Hey, David. It’s Waterman Dave,” they shout.

Gray hair sticks out from under his Detroit Lions cap. The word “peace” is embroidered on the arm of his sweatshirt. It looks like he hasn’t shaved for days.

“Hey brother, I got some juice and stuff for you,” Ross tells one homeless man outside the city library, as another kids and asks: “Do you have my cheeseburger and curly fries?”…”

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