James Brooks is a living inspiration.  Once homeless himself, James now serves as Mercy House’s O.C. Programs Director, Emergency Services for individuals experiencing homelessness.

In the process of launching our website, we approached Mercy House for assistance with a video project.  We were looking to meet, speak with, and videotape some of the people in the homeless population.  Mercy House was very accommodating, and directed us to James for the project.  He suggested that we spend an afternoon at La Palma Park in Anaheim.  There is a considerable homeless population living there, and he thought it would be a good place to meet people who may be willing to speak to us.

If you meet James in person, you will have a hard time believing that he once lived on the streets.  He is intelligent, articulate and engaging.  He also has a positive energy that fills a room.  He does not fit the stereotypes we often associate with homelessness.

James is a light to the people experiencing homelessness at the park.  He introduced us to several people at the park, and nearly everyone there already knew who he was.  Through him, we interviewed an elderly couple living in an old, donated motorhome, a young mother, and two homeless men.  If we had gone to the park as strangers, they probably wouldn’t have spoken to us at all.  But because we were with James, they opened up and shared their stories.

Throughout the day, we were able to see firsthand how kind and compassionate James is, and how he really listened to the people and engaged with them.  He works hard to try to help solve their problems.  It was a real privilege to watch him interact with the people in the park, and to see the love, care, and mutual respect flowing between him and the homeless community.

James’s love and compassion for others is the reason why James is our first designated “Angel Among Us.”