David grew up on a tobacco farm in Boone, North Carolina and was brought up by a single mother who worked as a faculty librarian at Appalachian State University. Though David describes himself as un-homed since 19, he did not experience true homelessness until about a year and a half ago, after completing a detox program in Asheville. Now, David spends his days on foot and even the coldest nights in a tent. “It would not have been easy in my twenties,” David tells me. “But it’s definitely not easy in my fifties.”
Listening to David will shatter some of your pre-conceived notions about homelessness. He has a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and is fluent in most wind instruments, guitar and piano. Listening to David will confirm some of your pre-conceived notions about addiction. It will take most of what you own, what you have to give away and what you love.
It was the first time David came to Haywood Street that he had the vision of forming a choir here. Soon after, he stood before the congregation and shared his eagerness to help folks sing together – all folks, regardless of skill, experience and life-circumstance. A couple of months ago, the choir performed their first song – a harmonic duet between two singers, backed by David on piano. It was absolutely beautiful.
I have to stop David as he excitedly describes his commitment to this project. I tell him I’m a bit confused; that in my hardest life moments, I have not thought about forming a choir. I have not thought about dropping off a donation. I’ve hardly thought about holding the door for the person behind me. In my hardest life moments, I’ve thought about myself. And my kid. Hearing David’s story makes me reflect on the selfishness that so naturally arises when resources are limited, and the exceptional humans who are able to rise above that feeling of scarcity – to dream and to give despite what the world says they don’t have.
David tells me he is able to show up, to be of service because of faith. “In my walk with my higher power, I am led to focus on the one step, letting God speak to me as I go. I keep focused on the goal and give up focus on how the goal gets accomplished. And I’m often surprised. I think — wow, God’s vision was so much better than my own.“
David invites anyone interested to join the Haywood Street choir – bring your criminal history, your addiction, your sobriety. Bring your built-up, broke-down and barely hanging on. “All you have to do it show up.”
Choir practice is currently held from 2-3 on Wednesdays in the Haywood Street sanctuary. David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.