By Jeffrey Dennison, WSU Tri-Cities
RICHLAND, Wash. – When Ashlee Iverson went fishing with her dad recently on a remote stretch of the Yakima River, the last thing they expected was company. They were surprised to find a homeless man named Brett living by the river.
“He was friendly and well-mannered but living pretty far away from civilization,” said Iverson, a Washington State University nursing student. “We were at least 10 miles upriver from West Richland. That is a long walk to town.”
She and her father found that Brett had lost a good job before becoming homeless. She immediately felt a desire to assist him.
“As a nursing student, we learn empathy and altruism. I couldn’t just walk away without helping,” Iverson said.
She and her father provided Brett with a warm jacket, sleeping bag, cleaning and hygiene supplies and more. She mentioned his needs to her nursing class and the students were happy to help.
“I’m so proud of my classmates,” Iverson said. “The students at the nursing school took up a collection of clothing, food and supplies for Brett.”
She and her father check on Brett every few days.
“He mostly stays in West Richland,” she said. “We’ve talked to him about going to the mission in Pasco, but he is uncomfortable with that right now. We can tell he has had a hard time and we want to support his well-being and safety.
“I try to keep in mind that one kind gesture done for someone else can make a huge difference in their life, whether it’s a simple smile to show you care or offering someone something they need at that time,” she said.