Asking the homeless to draw a picture


“I asked some homeless people to draw a picture of whatever they wanted. This is what they did.”


1 Zamboni

“Eric said “I used to love hockey. I could draw that.”  I thought it was interesting that he said used to.  “I could draw a Zamboni.”  While Eric drew the Zamboni he explained in great detail how the machine works and why it’s important.”



“Chris laughed.  He said “The first thing that came to mind is when me and my friend used to climb on the roof a garage, tear off shingles and throw them at each other.  And you have to watch out because those things hurt!”  It was a happy memory for him.  “I can’t draw good, but the lines are flying shingles.”  But when I asked to take a picture the smile left Chris’s face.  “I don’t really like pictures, I feel self-conscious about being homeless.”



“I walked up to Eugene and a woman.  I asked him if he would be open to draw a picture.  He said “No but you can pick a picture out of my book.”  Then he opened his art kit and handed me a book full of drawings.  I thought that’s interesting, that is the second homeless person today with a nice art kit. He said “Look through it and take whatever you want.” He had no idea who I was, yet he was so trusting and generous.  Like the roses, some pictures were beautiful.  And on other pages were darker drawings that resembled a deranged person or demon.  I said what are those, pointing to the dark drawings.  He said “Oh nothing really.”


1 rainbow

“Thor is a mountain of a man with hands the size of baseball mitts, muscular and solid.  I imagine he looked like Thor the ‘comic book character as a young man.  When I asked him to draw something from his youth he immediately said “I’ve always loved rainbows.“  If I had a thousand guesses I would have never picked Thor to draw a rainbow.”

My realization


“Drawing pictures created a path to special memories, stories, smiles and laughter.  They enjoyed this unusual request and being treated with kindness and respect.  But when I looked back at the pictures I noticed that the smiles and laughter turned to closed lips and fading enjoyment when the camera came out.  I think Chris spoke for all of them when he said “I don’t like what I see in the camera.” My hope in these requests was just to connect with people who are usually ignored. No, it wasn’t some generous philanthropic act.  I just think everyone has a story and deserves to be listened to.”

My promise card DS

Posted by Nate, a member of our Denver chapter.