LONG BEACH, Calif. - You don’t often hear the words, "beloved" and "homeless" said together. But that’s how locals and business owners in the Lakewood Village neighborhood of Long Beach describe 73-year-old Jerry Pryor.
Pryor has lived on the streets for years, maybe more than 10 years, but instead of complaining to police about him — the locals take care of him.
That’s because he takes care of the streets in the neighborhood. He hikes “the trail” as he calls Carson Street, sweeping up, picking up trash and even pruning plants.
Locals say he never begs for money, he’s always clean and respectful. Long Beach resident Yuri Wiliams, himself a do-gooder with a nonprofit group to help sick children and the homeless, established a friendship with Pryor.
He found out the SoCal Honda Dealers grant random acts of kindness and nominated Pryor as a deserving person.
Friday, Wiliams was there when the Helpful Honda team pulled a wagon full of gifts up to Hojas Tea House & Cafe where Wiliams and Pryor were chatting. Scott Walker represented the Helpful Honda Team and invited Pryor to come outside to see what they had brought him.
Pryor shuffled out the door to find a brand new wagon, to replace the old, heavy and dilapidated once he’s been pulling through the neighborhood. The wagon was piled high with warm clothing, shoes, socks and more. He also received hundreds of dollars in gift cards.
FOX 11's Susan Hirasuna asked him multiple times what he thought of the gifts. He thanked his friend Wiliams for the nomination, but he thanked the Honda team, too, but choked back tears when he realized how much he had been given. And, how many people in the neighborhood support him.
A couple of people know Pryor only as the nice, homeless man who never begs for money. Those who have gotten closer to him know that despite more than one offer of room or access to a guest house, he chooses to live on the streets.
He doesn’t like the shelters for the homeless, because he says those people are drunks and drug addicts. Photos in our story that show how Pryor lives were taken by Long Beach Press-Telegram photographer, Stephen Carr.
Pryor’s descent into homelessness started when his brother died in 2001. His widow eventually moved to Tennessee. I was told, she asked Pryor many times to move to Tennessee. But he refuses. He's apparently perfectly happy to live his way in Lakewood Village.
But now thanks to the Helpful Honda guys, he will also be warmer and more comfortable.
But that’s not where they stopped their random acts of kindness. They told Wiliams that they had gone to his website and bought $500 dollars worth of items from the group’s Amazon wish list. Wiliams wiped away tears as he thanked them. He said, he never expected anything for nominating Pryor. He had told them, Pryor deserved the random act of kindness because when he had so little, Pryor was always willing to share with others.