POINT LOMA, CA. About three months ago – in August – a homeless man who sat on a bench in Point Loma for 15 years died. No one knew his name, or where he was from, and the County was about to “dispose” of him when a community member found his family members and contacted them.
It turned out his name is – was – Jeff Pastorino, and that he has a twin brother named Chris, and has three other brothers, and was from a good family in Pennsylvania. Jeff disappeared from them27 years ago without a trace.
Wherever Jeff’s journey took him, we do know that for the last decade and a half, he sat in a bench at the corner of Rosecrans and Avenida de Portugal “in the village of Point Loma,” as a website that has been set up in his honor describes him.
But that’s not all. As the website “Point Loma News” reports:
A community that had largely ignored the “crazy guy on the corner” miraculously began to come together. Flowers appeared on Jeff’s bench, then cards, letters, notes, and votives. Point Lomans could be seen in front of the bench with tears running down their faces. Total strangers stood at the bench sharing stories about Jeff. It turns out the man no one knew was known by everyone. He had become a part of the community and although he lived in his own world, Point Lomans had silently embraced him as their own.
This is amazing if true. Could the death of a local homeless guy bring together the community of Point Loma, known for its wealth, conservatism and proximity to the levers of power in San Diego?
This is not a careless question. Also, it turns out Father Joe Carroll has become involved – post mortem with Jeff. Chris, the brother is coming to town, and there is a memorial planned on Nov. 5th and another event involving Father Carroll on the 7th. We’re not real clear why this is. But go here for more details.
It is great that Jeff’s family has found him. But of course they found him too late. Why didn’t someone try to find the family before Jeff succumbed to himself and to his environment? You already know the answer. There’s no social services – either government or private – that do that. Contact the family of homeless “crazy” people. Or if there are, they didn’t do it for Jeff.
Is this gush of emotion simply material well-off Peninsulans massaging their own guilt about homeless people, and that particular homeless man? Isn’t this all too much? Too much and too little and too late?
Did Point Loma discover their homeless and crazy guy too late?
Actually, if you read the “about us” page on the website set up because of Jeff’s death, you’ll find something very encouraging. Here it is:
We are the people who have been touched by Jeff Pastorino. Some of us knew him well enough to share stories with him. Some of us helped him with his needs for food, money and friendship. Some of us said hello while some of us merely walked or drove by in our cars.
But all of us were his friends and neighbors. He asked for nothing. He expected nothing. As strange as it may seem, he gave us all so much. He has helped us understand the plight of the homeless better. He has helped us realize the gap between material wealth and poverty may not be as wide as we had believed. He has helped us come to grips with the truth that we are all members of the same communities of Point Loma, San Diego, the United States, Planet Earth and humanity. (Editor: our emphasis.)
We are Jeff’s friends and in many ways, his students.
If the ending of a seemingly tragic life can lead our fellow citizens who inhabit this peninsula with OB come to a better understanding of the extent and nature of the homeless crisis in this town and this nation, we welcome their discovery, and cheer on their future efforts. (We just don’t know why or how Father Joe got so involved.)
Welcome to the Point Loma/ Ocean Beach blogosphere, our fellow humans! Welcome! Thank you Jeff Pastorino!