Jerry Pryor, 73, still pulls his bulky cart near Lakewood Village, trimming trees and picking up trash along the way. He’s moving slow these days, as the elements of living on the streets and age take their toll.
But after the Post featured the local homeless man in a story last March, he received some financial help, both from the community and small businesses in the area—and also the philanthropic arm of Southern California Honda Dealers.
Yuri Williams, an Orange County probation officer and local philanthropist, took a special interest in Jerry. He called the Helpful Honda Guys, which is sponsored by local Honda dealers, and asked for help.
“I put it up in the air and they responded,” Williams said. “I was shocked.”
Earlier this month, Jerry was surprised with a new cart, clothing, supplies and money directed to accounts at the local restaurants he frequents. The company also paid off his outstanding balance and fees until the end of the month at Lakewood Self-Storage, where Jerry has three units with his possessions.
“Jerry is just like you and me,” Williams said. “He just doesn’t have a house. He call the streets his home. … We have to change the narrative and try to build a relationship with the homeless.”
Bruce De Mille, who started a GoFundMe account called “Friends of Jerry,” has also raised more than $10,000 since the Post article published. The group is paying fees toward future storage costs, among other needs Jerry has.
Every night Jerry sleeps nearby on a donated fold-out cot next to his meticulous cart covered by a green tarp. He wears three jackets and slips into a sleeping bag to fend off the elements. Every morning he folds up the cot and tarp and pulls his cart on a now-shortened path he calls “The Trail” along Carson Avenue between Norse Way and Lakewood Boulevard.
Born and raised in Long Beach, Jerry graduated from Wilson High in 1963. He ended up on the streets after his brother Danny died in 2001. He lived for a while on his sister-in-law’s property, but left and never returned.
He sees it as his job to take care of the streets he roams, and local residents and business owners have to come to know him and his story.
Olivia Flores, a local resident, said she wishes Jerry would seek help—especially with winter approaching. A cold storm system is expected to hit Long Beach on Wednesday.
“I wish he would just have a comfortable bed,” she said. “He’s our friend; he’s our Jerry. We will protect him as long as he’s here.”
De Mille said he bought Jerry a Thanksgiving dinner from Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ and it will be delivered on Thanksgiving day.
The soft-spoken Jerry said he finds comfort in listening to people: “I tend to listen more often because if you end up talking, you end up with your foot in your mouth.”
He now spends his time between Hoja’s Tea House, Dale’s Diner and Jack in the Box, where he will be this Thanksgiving, until the restaurant closes at 6 p.m. Despite not being with family on the holidays, Jerry said he’s gained a family in the residents and businesses of Lakewood Village.
“I don’t really do much with the relatives because of my lifestyle and situation,” he said. “It’s kind of a bummer, but I’ll get by.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that the Helpful Honda People is the philanthropic arm of Southern California Honda Dealers, not Honda Motor Company.
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