Costa Mesa Blogger Aids the Homeless

Costa Mesa Homeless

Costa Mesa Homeless

Many of you remember Dave, a homeless friend I met last year in front of Target in Costa Mesa (my hometown).  You can read stories about our time together here.  Last year, our story was picked up by a local paper (as you can see in the snapshot to the right) and repeated here to make it easier to read:

When one Costa Mesa man takes his simple goal – to get to know some homeless people – and tells the world about it through a blog, interesting things can happen.

Dave Rosendahl blogs about meeting homeless people. Since he started in January, people from around the world have visited the site,, and donated more than $1,400 to his cause.

“My heart breaks for the homeless,” writes Rosendahl, 34. “I feel that the margin between my comfort (and the perceived security it provides) – and life on the streets – is razor-thin.”

One homeless man, also named Dave, has starred in at least six blog posts. Rosendahl takes readers from the point they met in a Harbor Boulevard parking lot, to the Orange County Rescue Mission, where “homeless Dave” intends to apply for residence. Rosendahl used reader funds one night to buy him a hotel room.

“I’m not suggesting that handouts are the answer,” Rosendahl writes. “I believe a better answer is probably figuring out a way to equip them to help themselves.”
– Mike Reicher (from

I sometimes wish I could focus on issues like those faced by our homeless friends full-time.  Knowing Dave has been a huge blessing!

What about you?  If you could do anything to help other people (and not have to worry about an income), what would it be?

Update on (Homeless) Dave [+some things he needs]


Dave heads back into the city he calls home.

After about a month of little contact, Dave and I were able to connect this morning.  As we headed to and from Rock Harbor, he shared his feelings, thoughts, and hopes.

(If you missed the last post about how we lost contact, as well as the letter Dave gave me to post for you, click here.)

Having passed the 1 year mark of being without a home, his spirits are challenged.  Not only is it hard being on the street, but he’s also seeing friends affected by drugs and alcohol.  Others have become “comfortable,” and their lack of desire to change their lifestyle worries him.

Dave is tired, dirty, sleeping poorly, and a bit depressed — but remains hopeful that the OC Rescue Mission will provide a gateway to getting back on his feet.  Click here to read a post about my visit to the amazing OC Rescue Mission.

That said, I’m continually amazed by his ability to easily interact with others, and socialize with people he barely knows.  I saw that (again) today, and it reminds me what an amazing person lies beneath the tired exterior.

This past week, Dave’s backpack was stolen, which unfortunately contained a lot of his basic necessities.  I asked him what he needed, and while he hesitated to ask for anything, he finally relented and gave me a list of things he needs most.

If you feel led to contribute, I’ve provided a few ways at the bottom of this post:

  • Phone charger (not for iPhone, but the kind that looks like a small USB); his last one was stolen
  • Verizon phone card, for his pay-as-you-go phone
  • Size 10 shoes; his current shoes have holes in the them from walking and facing the elements
  • Backpack; his trusty companion was recently stolen from outside Starbucks (including everything in it)
  • Hair cut, if anyone works in a  salon or is willing to help, please let me know
  • Bus pass, which helps him get to places he collects cans, check his mail, and hopefully soon, interview at the OC Rescue Mission

Again, do not feel you need to do anything.  I told him to have no expectations, but that I would bring these needs before you, Team Dave, and we’ll see what happens.

Here’s how you can contribute:

  • Give me the items (if you know me personally, you know how), or arrange a way via the comments below
  • Mail stuff to:

Care of David Rosendahl
30 Corporate Park, Suite 400
Irvine, CA 92606

In the comments, please let me know if you have any questions, or if you are able to meet any of the needs so that I can cross them off.

Thanks for joining me in this journey!


A Letter From (Homeless) Dave

Dave's not to you, back

Dave’s handwritten note to you, his “Team Dave”

As you may know, it has been a few weeks since I last saw Dave. (If you haven’t been following his story, you can start reading about it here.)

Suddenly, and without warning, I lost contact with him. Life has been so busy with travel, work, and family, that I haven’t been able to get out on the streets and look for him — until today.

I spent about 2 hours searching Santa Ana and Costa Mesa, driving, parking, and walking around spots I recall him speaking about. I looked under bridges, behind buildings, and in parking lots. I drove around in circles, wondering, praying, and asking for guidance to find a needle in the haystack of a busy city.

About to give up, I decided to look in the parking lot of a Starbucks we’ve sometimes met. I parked, and walked around, hoping for something.

I suddenly remembered

Read more of this post

44% of Americans Are One Emergency From Financial Ruin

Despite having jobs, nearly half of all Americans are one emergency away from ruin.

Despite having jobs, nearly half of all Americans are one emergency away from ruin.

My sister recently posted a comment on this post, where another reader mentioned he felt most homeless are that way because of substance abuse.

While I have not found data to substantiate this claim, I did come across an LA Times article reporting that nearly 44% of American households are one emergency away from financial ruin.

As I’ve come to realize through my time with the homeless, it seems that most of the folks I meet didn’t have enough in savings to cover their basic living expenses at the time of their “event” — and according to this article, they’re not alone. Of the 44% that are one step away from the edge, most do not have savings capable of covering three months of living expenses.  This means that losing a job, becoming ill, or losing their family support system can be devastating.

Speaking of savings: according to a study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, nearly a third of Americans have no savings account at all.

Of households that are on the edge, about 75% are working full-time, with slightly over 15% earning a middle-class income of more than $55,000 a year. Even so, they’re one paycheck away from the edge.

What do you think?  Does it seem likely that nearly half of all American households are that close to the edge?  If so, what can be done about this?

The Power Of Storytelling: Generating $1,421 In A Week

If you’ve been following this blog, you’re familiar with Dave: he’s 40 years old, homeless, and lives under a bridge.  Here’s where he lives now:

Dave's place under the bridge.  This is where he's been living.

Dave’s home under the bridge.

Against the odds, he’s making a love-fueled comeback.

After writing this post (my third in the series), I included a link that allowed readers to donate towards Dave’s journey.

Within minutes, $50 had been donated.  After a week, we received $1,421, not to mention other physical donations.

Honestly, I never expected this to happen.

As I’ve shared Dave’s story (you can read it starting here) and talked to readers about my blogging journey, I’m often asked how it started, and why Read more of this post

[PICS] Costa Mesa Homeless: My Time With Dave (Part 6)

Dave and I sit in the parking lot of this Starbucks and talk.

Dave and I sit in the parking lot of this Starbucks and talk.

On Wednesday of last week, Dave and I meet in a Starbucks parking lot, a 10- minute drive from home.

Come on, let’s sit in the car, it’s cold,” I tell him, motioning to my wife’s car.

We get inside, and I ask him how it went with his kids.  Because of your kindness, he was able to spend a night in a hotel, get cleaned up, and feel somewhat human in advance of seeing them.  This small luxury was a huge blessing for him.

“It was amazing … so, so good!” he says, repeating his words with emphasis and emotion.

“But my older boy, I think he’s got something on his mind about me,” he says, somewhat sadly.  I nod, wanting him to continue and share.

“I think he feels I left him, that it’s my fault we’re not Read more of this post

[Video] Costa Mesa Homeless: My Time With Dave (Part 5)

Dave & Dave!

Dave & Dave!

Earlier today, I met Dave for lunch at Panera, in the same shopping center as the Target we first met.

I brought paperwork from the OC Rescue Mission, including a Program Agreement, Application, and Policies Handbook.  He’ll review them over the next few days in preparation for his interview.

Since I took a tour of the location earlier in the week, I also showed him pictures (you can see them here), which he was excited to see. His mental image was much different than what I showed him; he’s pumped!

Last time we spoke, we made plans for him to read the posts I’ve written on this blog, and I wanted him to see your encouraging comments.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous of what he might think as he read the posts, especially because of the pictures.  As we sat eating our sandwiches, I told him that I feel he’s great about sharing his feelings, and that I wanted to follow suit by telling him that I feel a little vulnerable sharing the stories with him — but he responded positively, and was extremely encouraging.

In fact, part way through the first post, he was emotional and Read more of this post

Costa Mesa Homeless: My Time With Dave (Part 4)

At the corner of Hope Drive ...

Hope Drive!

Earlier this week, I visited the OC Rescue Mission, which happens to be about a stone’s throw from my office.

As you know, I’ve been spending time with some homeless in our area (click here to see the rest of the stories about Dave, in order), and through this experience, have started to make myself familiar with available services.

The OC Rescue Mission is built on the site of the Tustin Marine Base, which has two gigantic hangers you’ve probably seen if you’ve been around Orange County (which, by the way, I’ve heard you can see from outer space; is that true?).

This is what I’m talking about … if you’ve been to Orange County, chances are you’ve seen them:

This is the hanger I was talking about.  It is gigantic.

If you live in Orange County, you know this landmark.  This is where the OC Rescue Mission is.

My hope is that Dave (and Joey, who I wrote about here), can gain admittance to the program.  Dave is in the midst of waiting for his California ID (which will take 4-6 weeks), so I’m praying that there is some divine intervention and it gets here more quickly, as the folks at OCRM indicate there are openings.

I met with Kristin Bruce, an energetic, Read more of this post

Costa Mesa Homeless: Dave’s Story [Start Here]

Dave & Dave

Me on the left, Dave on the right — a day after your gift of a night in a hotel.

Dave is 40 years old, and homeless.  He lives under a bridge with 2 friends he met on the street.

I met Dave in a Target parking lot, and have been sharing his story on this blog. In response, you’ve showered him with an amazing outpouring of love and support.

If you’re looking to jump to these stories in sequence, here’s where to start:

  • Costa Mesa Homeless: My Time With Dave (Part 4):  Since readers have entrusted over $1,200 in donations to Dave and his story, I decided to take a tour of the Orange County Rescue Mission, which is where Dave intends to live.  I’ve included some pics — it is an amazing place!
  • [Video] Costa Mesa Homeless: My Time With Dave (Part 5):  Over sandwiches at Panera, Dave reads everything written about him on this blog (including your comments), and writes a thank-you note.  Also, he decides to film a short video!  See the man whose life you are changing.

How You Can Help

Many of you have asked how you can be a part of writing Dave’s new life story, and here are a few things you can do:

  • Share this story.  Send it to your friends, post it to Facebook, send links via email.
  • Leave Dave a comment on this blog.  Tell him where you’re from, and how you heard about his story.  I’m going to show him these posts soon.  If you have words of encouragement, leave them here.  He’ll love reading them.
  • Please continue to pray – not only for Dave, but also for me to discern what to do with the energy and momentum these stories have created.  Where is it leading?
  • If you have physical donations, I can arrange to pick them up.  If you have questions about what Dave needs, leave those in the comments.

Dave’s life is being changed by people he doesn’t even know, from across the globe.  Will you join in making a difference in his life?  Every amount counts, no matter how small.  Donate here.

Costa Mesa Homeless: My Time With Dave (Part 3)

It’s Thursday, January 31st, around 5 PM, and I’m running to a meeting when my wife texts me: “I need u to come home and help me”.

I step out and call her.  I can’t hear a thing she’s saying, but I get the point: stressful day, I’m needed.  Now.

I step back into the meeting, apologize, and run to my office.  I remember that I’m ready to publish a post about the prior week’s experience with Dave, who is 41 years old and homeless (see part 1 here, part 2 here).

I wrote the post while flying home from Vegas.  On the flight, I decided to try something that weighed on my heart: asking you to get involved.

I felt that asking you to help Dave get his ID, and providing him a gift of a night in a hotel would touch his heart.  This is why I included an “ask” at the bottom of the post, being faithful to the prompting but unsure of what to expect.  I connected the “ask” to a PayPal account, and configured it to allow donations of any size.

But my wife needs me, so I set the post to auto-publish at 5:30, and make a mad dash down the stairs.

I get home.  My wife is feeling overwhelmed with work (her first week back after a 9 month maternity break).  Plus, I’ve been out of town for three days.  Abby’s been a handful.  We talk, and things calm down a bit.

At 6:44, I remember I haven’t promoted the post, so I make a few status updates on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  I feel a little self-conscious about asking you to help, but I’ve learned this discomfort is usually a good sign.

At 7:19, a $50 donation comes in.  I can’t believe my eyes.

By Saturday morning, $176 rolls in.  What the…? Read more of this post

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