Chocolate Milk, A Broken Leg and Jerry

My attempt at redemption

If you read my last post I admitted to ignoring a homeless person and how absolutely fucking horrible I felt for days afterwards (even still to this day). I was taken back by one comment from a reader where she went up one side of me and down the other.

Settle down Felicia, I fucking get it. I don’t need you bashing on me.

(You should read it in case you missed it)

Anyway, I made a silent and open promise to the young girl who I neglected. I promised to her I would never do that again. Ignore a homeless person. Even if I don’t have money to give them I will acknowledge their presence.

We have plenty of beggars in Panajachel, Guatemala and I try to give them money if I can. I buy people food, give them water, do whatever I can. It’s what I ‘claim’ to do-help the helpless.

I’m not sure where it came from or why I am so passionate to help them. I’ve made it my mission to do my part in helping. We all have to do our part to obliterate it but let’s be real, will that ever happen? Probably not.

At best, we can give them food, water and money.

Fast forward to Ottawa

I’m visiting my son in Ottawa this week and down on Rideau Street there are plenty of homeless people. I’m overwhelmed at the amount to be honest. I can’t help them all, this I know. It’s important to do my part but it’s just as important to be realistic.

I can’t help them all.

I make sure I have small bills ($5 is the smallest bill in Canada) and lots of toonies and loonies ($1 and $2).

As we trip down the street I place money in paper cups, smile and walk away. And then I meet “Jerry”. I honestly have no idea what his name. Jerry is the first name that comes to mind while I write this and picture him in my mind.


He’s off by himself leaning up against a concrete pillar just outside the mall doors. He has crutches and is eating a bag of chips. Me and Julian are heading to dinner but I walk over and give Jerry $5.

As I walk away he’s yelling at me to come back. He wants to talk to me. I’m fine with that. He tells me his story. How much of it I believe doesn’t really matter. It’s not my business. And I don’t judge.

He got hit by a bus. Apparently broke his leg (it was visibly swollen). He went to the hospital but couldn’t afford the medicine. The doctor said they have to cut his leg off. Then while he was laid up (where is still unclear to me) someone stole his wallet and all his money.

And could I please get him a liter of chocolate milk.

Yes Jerry. I will certainly get you chocolate milk. If that’s the least I can do for you right now, so be it. He tells me where the store is and off I go.

The store didn’t have any so I walked up a block or two to find another store. Julian doesn’t mind. He knows better than to say anything negative to me. He patiently walks with me while I look for chocolate milk.

Where’d ya go?

We find the milk and return to Jerry. He’s surprised. He thought I forgot about him (just like everyone else) because I had been gone so long. The smile on his face was priceless.

His smile made it all worthwhile. Someone didn’t forget him. Someone cared enough to get him chocolate milk.

Jerry definitely needed money and food but at that moment, all he wanted was chocolate milk.

Why are there so many?

I’m puzzled by the increase in homelessness. Where did all these people come from? Where did we go wrong? So many of the homeless people are young kids. Where are their parents? Their families? What happened?

When I was in LA two weeks ago a trip through Skid Row blew my mind. Rows and rows of tents. This is where they live. Why? How?

I totally get that some people are quite happy with this life. This is the life they’ve chosen and it’s all most of them know. They have no desire for anything better. To them, it’s good enough.

But what about the rest of them? Did ‘we’ as a society fail them? I have a million questions, some have answers, some don’t.

Can you do your part please?

I know I write an awful lot about homelessness. Sorry not sorry. They need a voice. I’m not sure mine is the most authoritative or the most valuable, but at least it’s a voice.

Please stop snubbing them on the street.

Please stop judging them.

Please take a minute to drop some money in their cup. Even $1 helps. It’s not your business what they do with it. You won’t miss a buck or two.

Please take time to stop and ask what they need. Maybe they need food. Go get them something. Maybe they need water or chocolate milk.

Please, just do your part.

I love you ❤

Peace and Love

xo iva xo

Self help Guru|Expat|Website: mini self help eBook series here:

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