Most of our guests express their hopes and dreams in words. Sean used a piano. Picking out a beautiful improvised melody, he explained, “This is a G major scale which just makes you look up at the sky with wonder, hoping that the best is out there. Then I go down into D7 and it just reminds me what got me into this situation. You can hope for the best with the best tone, the best quality, which makes everybody not want to leave their chairs. That’s what music is about, it holds you.”
Music has held Sean, now 20, since he was in the 6th grade, when his father encouraged him to try the saxophone. Sean was soon playing in ensembles, jazz band and eventually, high school marching band. But Sean’s real musical love is the piano, which he discovered in middle school. Largely self-taught, he has been playing for eight years. “It keeps me motivated,” he said.
Sean wasn’t comfortable sharing how he became homeless at such a young age, but told us that he had lost touch with his family and spent about a year living on the streets. “I could call myself blind because I didn’t know anything about how homeless people lived or how they ate. I didn’t know about the streets. And when you’re out there you learn that. Now I know what’s out there: anything and everything.”
Six months ago, Sean found his way to Mel Trotter’s Youth Emergency Shelter, a separate space for vulnerable men, ages 18–24. “I think I was one of the first to use it. It’s nice. I honestly like it.” Compared to the Men’s Shelter, Sean said, “The youth side is smaller.”
Sean’s experience with homelessness has given him a rare sense of acceptance. “Anyone can fall. Two and a half years ago I was on top of the world. But things got to me and now I’m here.” He is also blessed with the resilience of youth: “I’m not worried. You’ve got to fall two steps backwards to come up!”
Sean is definitely on an upward path today, studying music performance as a community college sophomore. “I want to be able to travel abroad and just perform. I have a couple of upcoming gigs. Hopefully once I finish school, it will give me the opportunity to fully take advantage of it.” Sean recently played piano at Mel Trotter’s annual Season of Hope event, entertaining more than 400 donors during the pre-event reception.
Sean is still looking for a job and a place to live. He is very grateful for your support and for something that brings him special joy: “I’m just thankful that they are helping people out here. And I’m thankful that whoever designed the chapel room was as much into music as I am and they put a piano in here.”
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