Not so long ago, Sweed Jones was living the American dream — a weekly paycheck, a happy marriage and a house in a middle-class neighborhood.
Now, the job is gone and so is his wife.
And home isn’t a white Cape Cod with blue shutters. It’s a tent in the woods.
Standing in a public parking lot on a hot Friday evening, the Hagerstown man tried to figure out the long slide that has landed him among the ranks of the homeless.
“It seems like a nightmare,” he said. “But I just can’t seem to wake up.”
For the past two years, Jones, 40, has watched his life skid out of control.
He became unemployed and began competing with high school students for minimum wage jobs.
“Employers seemed to prefer the teenagers,” he said.
With no substantial income, what little money he did have soon disappeared.
He lost his house, his marriage ended in divorce and he fell into a deep state of depression.
It wasn’t long before he was living in shelters and the hard floor of a garage.
Now, he lives outdoors in an area he won’t disclose.
“I don’t want to be run off,” he said.
It’s a life he never imagined for himself.
But he’s hopeful things will get better.
And he finds some of that hope in the parking lot behind Hagerstown City Market, where he occasionally joins in prayer and shares a meal with others who are experiencing similar hardships.
For many who form the long lines each Wednesday and Friday evening, those meals might be the only food they have eaten that day.
There are single, unemployed mothers, homeless veterans, people who are working but barely getting by. And then there are the children — some of whom live in shelters or tents.
During those two days, more than 200 people are fed.
Soul Food Ministries delivers food for the mind, body and spirit
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