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Orchids & Onions Awards Ceremony Oct 02, 2014 The San Diego Architectural Foundation presents this year's crop of design awards acknowledging the best and the "could be better" of San Diego's built environment.  54 other events on Thursday, October 2
 
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. . . .
Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008

Steve

Our weekly series putting faces on San Diego's homeless

By Kinsee Morlan

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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