Local activists support homeless man

Jim was seen sleeping inside of the ATM area of Chase Bank on 3528 East Tremont Avenue this past week.
Photo courtesy of Niko Kritikos

When the winter arrives, with its below-freezing, wind-chilling temperatures, sleeping with ‘cold cash’ is a ‘no-brainer’.

Due to the recent cold wave a local homeless man has made an ATM kiosk his sleeping quarters.

Jim, who has been homeless for over ten years, was recently seen catching some zzz’s inside the ATM Chase Bank ATM foyer, located on 3528 E. Tremont Avenue.

When the 45th Precinct attempted to remove him, he calmly and kindly refused any assistance.

Jim, described as 5’10” with blue eyes and salt and pepper straight hair who is a former Throggs Neck resident, was also seen sleeping outside of Frank Bee Costume Store, located at 3435 E. Tremont Avenue, this past Monday night in 11 degree temperature.

Once again, when the 45th Precinct attempted to move him to an indoor location at the BronxWorks Homeless Outreach Center, located at 60 East Tremont Avenue, he refused assistance.

Those that have interacted with him describe Jim as having the mindset of a 12-year old, who is convinced that individuals in the shelter will take advantage of his mental condition.

In the past, Jim has left a shelter after one or two days.

As a result, he has chosen the street, set-back entryways and ATM areas, were he doesn’t have to worry about his overall safety.

Those who have crossed paths with Jim say that he is a honest, innocent individual who would never bother or threaten anybody.

Many have also stated that he is not an alcoholic or a drug user, and usually doesn’t panhandle.

Homeless, but not helpless, Jim has received support from local residents, who have donated winter jackets, hats, gloves and scarfs, among other clothing, as well as food to assist him during arguably the coldest time of the year.

Many neighborhood residents have also donated to Jim’s GoFundMe page, which has raised over $350 in four days. One hundred dollars was donated by the Provettos who frequently see him on the avenue.

“I’ve seen this man on the streets for the past decade, but I never crossed paths with him until recently – when I learned that he is a very kind, gentle person who doesn’t want to bother anybody,” said Gina Dipaolo-Koehler, a 33-year Throggs Neck resident who started the GoFundMe page and recently offered to pay for Jim to stay in a hotel room for a few nights, which Jim graciously declined.

“When a homeless man refuses food because he said he just ate, that says a lot about his character as a person.”

“During this time of the year, all Jim is worried about is staying warm,” she added, after providing Jim with winter clothes. along with blankets and pillows.

The 45th Precinct stated that when they receive a call about a homeless person in the street or in a public area during the winter, they try to move the individual indoors, such as the BronxWorks Homeless Outreach Center or a 24-hour hospital bed, but they can’t force a homeless person to accept their help.

To donate money to support Jim, please visit www.gofundme.com/helpjim2016

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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