Robert Griffo was living the high life at an investment firm on Wall Street when the stock market crashed 25 years ago on Black Monday. Along with the Dow Jones industrial average, Griffo's life tumbled.
Griffo tells StoryCorps he worked with the investment company for 11 years.
"I was making a lot of money," he says. "I used to walk over homeless people at Grand Central Station when they were begging for money, and I'd say, 'You need to get a job.' But I lost myself on Wall Street."
When the market crashed on Oct. 19, 1987, Griffo thought he would be let go.
When Tierra Jackson was in high school, she was struggling. She kept getting yelled at for being late to school.
What most of her teachers and administrators didn't know was the reason for her tardiness: Jackson was homeless. Her mother was in and out of prison. She and her brother were living with her aunt and cousins. All seven of them shared a single room in one of Chicago's homeless shelters, a long bus ride from her school.
Homeless veterans of the Vietnam War have been a face of American poverty for decades, and now some veterans of a younger generation are dealing with the same difficult issues.
"I had my apartment up until 2011," says Joshua, a 28-year-old Navy vet, who asked not to give his last name because of the stigma of being homeless. "[I] couldn't keep up with the rent; I did a little couch surfing and then ended up on the street for a while."
This month we are collecting your stories about the good things Americans are doing to make their community a better place. Some of your contributions will become blog posts and the project will end with a story that weaves together submissions to make a story of Americans by Americans for Americans.
Dale Miller spends his days on the streets of downtown Denver selling a newspaper called The Homeless Voice. He's been having some health problems, but he can't afford to see a doctor on the $10 to $15 a day he makes selling papers.
A local charity clinic called the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless recently helped him get a CT scan at no cost to him. Miller fully understands, though, that someone has to pay for his care.