Homeless Reporter Rides Again

Roberto Vasquez

The Call From a Homeless Man

It was late in July, 2021 when Jay Beeler took a call from the stranger with a story to share.

It went something like this.

Once a substitute teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District, now unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the stranger confessed to being homeless.

While Beeler remained silent, the caller fumbled with his words, not quite sure what he was trying to say, but certain he needed to explain.

Finally, the homeless former teacher confided he was holding on to his physical and mental health through swimming.

He explained how daily swims in Alamitos Bay began on a dare, the reason he wore pink swim trunks, and how the twin goals of swimming every day for a year and completing 40 laps, or 100 miles, around Naples Island had changed his life.

When he’d finished explaining the purpose of the call, the homeless former substitute teacher waited for the eventual rejection, certain it was imminent.

Then, after a brief silence, Beeler cleared his throat and spoke up, “That’s a great story. I’m sending a reporter to interview you.”

The Homeless Swimmer Turns Reporter

The next day, reporter Kirt Ramirez interviewed the homeless teacher, now simply the homeless swimmer, and returned for the 40th and final lap on Aug. 1 to witness both the end of the year long goal and the completion of the 100 miles around Naples Island.

Not long after the story ran, Beeler and the homeless swimmer met to discuss an opportunity to work as a freelance reporter/photographer and soon thereafter, the homeless swimmer became the Homeless Reporter.

Over the next two years, the Homeless Reporter stories came in the form of amazing people, places and groups making the community proud.

There were the stories of the legendary Klaus Barth, the magical Lenny Arkinstall, and the trailblazing Long Beach Lifeguard, Carla Albano. Stories of places like the Sea Base Aquatics Center, the International Seafarers Center, and Simone’s Donuts. And stories, too, of groups like the Ohana of Takako Kimura, the non-profit Adaptive Freedom Foundation, and the group of senior citizens, swinging to big band, well into their golden years.

GoFundMe Campaign Becomes The Hope Project

Several months ago, however, the Homeless Reporter experienced catastrophic car failure, requiring a new-used engine and a remanufactured automatic transmission.

It was truly a dire situation, one that seemed hopeless.

Then, a small miracle occurred.

A GoFundMe campaign was initiated by a Beachcomber reader and nearly $1,200 was raised by random strangers, leaving the Homeless Reporter awed by the generosity of strangers.

Fortunately, the Homeless Reporter was able to secure a personal loan, thus the funds generated are now being redirected (with the blessings of the original donors) towards people, places and groups making the Long Beach and surrounding communities a better place to live, and hopefully, giving the priceless gift of hope.

On behalf of the Beachcomber, the Homeless Reporter is honored to announce The Hope Project, a series of articles (and monetary donations) on those people, places and groups giving hope to their local community.

Please feel free to suggest any person, place or group that you feel is making a difference, creating something positive the community can hold onto. Email me: imagesbyroberto@gmail.com.

Thank you,

The Homeless Reporter


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