City Of Angels
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On the unglamorous sidewalks of Hollywood's back streets,
a group of UCLA students
is dedicated to making
a difference in the lives of the homeless
By David Greenwald
Photography by Ara Oshagan '88
|Volunteer Jo Marie Tran Janco pauses for a moment at the corner
of Sycamore and Romaine before interviewing a client.
The man known on the street as Fats sits splay-legged on a metal folding chair
set up in the middle of a bleak sidewalk a block off Santa Monica Boulevard
in Hollywood. Two buttons of his short-sleeve shirt have popped open across
his ample belly, which spills over the rim of his dingy pants.
He is 43 but looks older, with close-cropped black hair, enormous arms and
a broad, gregarious face. Crouching in front of him on the hard concrete, a
young woman, clean and fresh and neatly dressed in shirt and slacks, is tenderly
washing and massaging his huge feet as they soak in a dishpan filled with water.
As she bathes the hardened skin of Fats' feet and legs, clipping his toenails
and gently working the grime out of his puffy flesh, Ele Lozares '03 asks him
how he is doing, what is happening in his life, if there are any problems he
wants to talk about. Her voice is soft and generous and invites his trust. Fats
tells her he's feeling OK, but his feet, which are cracked and swollen, hurt.
He tells her what he is doing to try to manage his health, where he's been sleeping
and eating. They joke a little and laugh and fondly tease each other back and
forth. There is mutual respect and genuine caring in their exchange.