Saturday, November 3, 2012




I found David Buchanan sitting in the shade of a tree behind the Burger King on the corner of Highway 49 and Bell Road. He is twenty-seven years old, and has been homeless, on and off, for about five years.

Every time I meet a young homeless man like David, it touches my heart. David is about the same age as one of my sons, or many of my students at Sierra College.

Before becoming homeless, David says he had a really good job selling insulation. But when the economy went bad, the company he was working for fizzled out, and he lost his job.

David grew up in New Mexico, then moved to Austin, Texas. He moved to the Colfax area about three months ago, looking for a place to start his new business.

David is an uncertified nutritionist. His new business, which he says that he developed with the help of a licensed physician, is a weight loss and nutritional program.

David tells me that he used to weigh more than 300 pounds. But he now weighs between 165 and 170.

David claims that his nutrition program can also cure childhood diabetes, and some forms of cancer. He says that his nutritional program involves eating only the kinds of food that Jesus ate, and eliminating all artificial and man-made foods.

As we talk, David pulls a whole cucumber out of his backpack. He bites into the raw cucumber, and begins to eat it in much the same way as other people would eat an apple.

What is the hardest part about being homeless for David?

"Transportation. When you don’t have a car, you find yourself walking a lot. Like, I just found out that around here, the buses don’t run on Saturday and Sunday. So today, I have already walked about twenty miles. I walked all the way to this spot in Auburn from Colfax.

"And not having enough blankets when it’s pouring down rain and freezing cold."

I met David a day or two after the first big rain of the winter season. One the night of the first big rain, I couldn’t sleep. I laid there, wondering how my homeless friends were surviving, outside in their tents. Some of them don’t even have a tent.

I asked David how he fared in the rain.

"I almost got pneumonia," he said. "My blankets were soaked. And my toes froze.

"The problem was that the weatherman predicted that the rain wasn’t going to hit here until the next day. But the rain came a day early. So, when it hit, I wasn’t prepared for it."

If David had a magic wand, so that he could be or do anything, what would he be doing?

"I’d be giving massive presentations about my nutrition program in front of large groups of people. I’d be curing childhood diabetes and cancer.

"You know, one out of three kids born in this country after the year 2000 are going to get diabetes by the time they reach the age of twelve. That’s terrible. And the worst thing about it is that it’s all reversible. It takes about a three to four month program to do it, but it is reversible.

I ask David if he has a message for the world.

"Yes. If you’re going to help homeless people, the main thing is organization. Because a lot of people really do want to help.

Some of the churches could be used as sanctuaries... as God intended for them to be. Churches all across the country could become sanctuaries for the homeless.

"The world needs more people who really want to help," David says. Then, he nods toward me, and says, "The world could use a lot more people like you, my friend."

I ask David what he believes makes him special and unique in this world.

"Seeing things outside the box," he answers. "My Mom always told me that I tend to see things a bit differently from the way that everyone else sees them."

"Not every single homeless person is a bad person," David says.

"Not every single homeless person is a drug addict, or an alcoholic, or a criminal.

"Some of them are just going through a tough spot in life. And they could use a little help."

I met David on a weekend afternoon. David offered to call me at my office on Monday or Tuesday, and give me an introduction to his nutritional program. He promised me that his program would help me lose weight. He offered to give me coaching on his nutritional program for no charge, saying that he worked only for donations.

At the time, I was struggling to lose weight. So, I looked at this 165 pound young man who used to weigh more than 300 pounds, and I was open-minded about maybe giving his nutritional program a try.

I gave David my office phone number, wondering if running into him might have been one of those accidental meetings that is arranged by God.

I told David that if his program worked, I would be more than happy to pay him for his coaching.
For the next two weeks, as I drove around town doing errands, I would see David walking here and there on the streets of Auburn.

But... he never called.

This is the ninety-third in a series of articles about Auburn-area homeless people, written by Auburn, California attorney, author, and Sierra College Instructor Bob Litchfield.

The first ninety-one articles were originally posted on the Auburn Journal Newspaper blogsite.
But when the newspaper closed their blogsite, the continuing articles were transferred to this blogsite.

Eventually, the earlier articles may also be posted on this blogsite. But for now, the plan is to complete originally-planned one hundred interviews of Auburn-area homeless people.

It will take a few more than one-hundred articles to complete the planned one-hundred interviews, because some of the initial articles in the series were not interviews, but rather, were about a documentary film that was made about the Auburn-area homeless.

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