Jeffery Samuel Smith
Jeffery Samuel Smith, 54, of Randleman, North Carolina, passed away peacefully in his homeless camp in Goleta on a Thursday afternoon. You could say Samuel was just another homeless dude, but I found him to be one of the most talented and interesting people I have ever met. Thursday was an important day in Samuel’s life, it’s the day he could get a hot shower and shave, maybe some donated shoes. This is the “Showers of Blessing,” a faith based group that provides a portable shower and new clothes that have been donated by local outlets. This was an opportunity for Samuel and the other homeless to mingle and receive help from people who truly cared about each of them and who have access to some resources.
I befriended Samuel in the summer of 2016, he was at a McDonalds and looked sad. When I offered him some money, he refused! He said,” I need my dog back”. It turned out that Samuel had just been released from a short stint in County Jail and his dog was at the Animal Shelter. That touched my heart as I have always had a dog in my own life. So I helped him bail out his dog, “Baby Girl”, a sweet little Pit, and gave him a ride to his spot. Samuel was truly thankful and very happy to have her back. She was a big part of his life as a companion who loved him unconditionally and was always with him. I found her to be a boisterous, happy little dog who was very entertaining. We ended up bailing her out two more times, but it was worth it.
Samuel’s spot was on the way to my work so I would occasionally stop by to talk and give him some money, (I’m sure a homeless person can always use a few dollars). I found that I enjoyed his company, he loved to talk and could discuss everything from Molecular Resonance to the plight of bee hives in America. He loved to tell stories, some of which included fast cars and really loud music in the Mountains of North Carolina. Samuel was a truly talented artist, he could draw anything from portraits of his pretty young niece to a very realistic dragon with fangs. Most of his artwork was lost to the rains and the travails of homelessness. He told me he went to prison shortly after high school ( we all know what that does for future prospects) but that he took every Junior College class they offered and cut his time in half. I believed him.
As our friendship grew, I took him to Court a couple of times and to Social Services to get a California I.D. card and start the process to get medical benefits and food stamps. I was shocked at how difficult it is for the homeless to find a safe place to leave their belongings, much less a dog. I was able to help Samuel with that. I was trying, in my way, to make his life better because he was my friend.
Samuel was a mentor to many young homeless people. I would see them ride by on their bikes and sometimes stop by and they always spoke with respect to Samuel. He also had a small group of people from the neighborhood who would come by with dog food or a little money. He almost always had a friendly greeting for everybody and every time I left him, he asked God to bless me and my family.
Samuel passed away on a Thursday, I usually saw him at the “Showers of Blessing” on Thursday, so when he wasn’t there I knew something was amiss. I went to his camp and found him in his sleeping bag, unresponsive and barely breathing. His skin was very yellow and his pulse was very faint. I sat with my friend while one of the people from the showers called 911.
I knew Samuel was aware of me and assured him that I would see that Baby Girl would be taken care of because I knew that was his biggest worry about dying. When the paramedics arrived I led Baby Girl away while they worked to save him. The police officers were truly wonderful and understanding, they took our statements and were very professional, one even suggested that I call Samuel’s sister so she could get the news from a friend of Samuel’s, which I did and thanked him.
The paramedics did the best they could but he passed away. It was his time. Father Nicolas, came over from the church where the showers are and administered Last Rites to Samuel. I thanked him very much because that was important. Samuel had told me that the medical tests had found a cancer but didn’t tell me where and I didn’t press him.
Samuel’s sister asked us to donate any cash we found with Samuel to the Showers of Blessing for the important part they played in Samuel’s life. We found about $170 in Samuel’s stuff and the people at the showers were very gratified to accept this donation.
People like those at the “Showers of Blessing” make the world a better place.
Rest In Peace, my friend
Please make a donation to the “Showers of Blessing” if you possibly can.