As a former Skid Row Resident, Wendell Blassingame, 63, transformed himself from a homeless alcoholic roaming the streets of Skid Row to becoming a "guardian angel" for others who may not be so fortunate.
For the most part, Blassingame spends his days at a folding table at San Julian Park, helping the homeless by directing them to social services, medical and dental treatment, free legal assistance and even drafting resumes for those seeking employment. But when the computer he depended on to help others was stolen, he fell into despair.
Blassingame was caught by pleasant surprise on Friday morning when he walked into a meeting that he thought was for a friend. Instead, he was the guest of honor.
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To celebrate their 60th Anniversary, Goldrich Kest, a California real estate development company started the “60 Acts of Kindness” campaign to reward deserving citizens in their efforts to improve the lives of their families and their communities.
Blassingame was surprised with a brand new laptop, a backpack to carry it in and a luncheon in his honor.
“I was speechless,” Blassingame said. “I almost passed out. I didn’t even know that someone was recognizing what I’ve been doing for all these years. I’m a just a person who wishes to give back.”
Blassingame was nominated by a friend for the award and has spent over 14 years faithfully dedicating his time to helping citizens out of Skid Row and the trappings of poverty.
Blassingame is motivated by a simple idea; that everyone needs a helping hand at some point.
“I’m trying to let the individual know that though you may be in Skid Row and you may be homeless, that’s just a step and you take that step and get up and move on,” Blassingame said. “So I’m here to not only encourage them from low self-esteem, but also give them the opportunity to know that there are many resources out there than can assist them.”
Blassingame was beaming when he took a closer look at his new laptop and tried out his new backpack for size.
“I’m on a fixed income and it would take a long time for me to save up and get one. I can’t really express the feeling I have for this organization that has donated to me,” Blassingame said. “Everyone needs some type of assistance and for someone to reach out and touch them and let them know that’s everything’s going to be all right. Love is the key.”