According to PNJ.com,
“I was trying to get some money for some paint supplies,’’ Masters said Sunday, sitting on the side of the road near the Chick-fil-A on Navy Boulevard. “My sign said ‘Just Need a Little Help’ and it was the truth.”
It took John Masters three days of begging in the sweltering Florida heat to collect $40. The panhandler sat with a simple sign and his seizure detecting service dog, Sheba, collecting donations towards his addiction. His addiction to creating beautiful Masters-pieces. With his collections from strangers, Masters purchased a few bottles of paint, canvases and brushes and began to paint on the side of the road. Drivers took notice to the homeless man’s amazing work, and Masters would soon become an entrepreneur.
“I sold three on Saturday and one today,” he said early Sunday afternoon. “I’m selling them cheap and I’m selling them as fast as I can paint them.”
Defying stereotypes of the homeless only spending their donations on drugs and alcohol, Masters began to make a profit doing what he loves. Using his talents to turn generous donations into a source of income, the homeless man was able to work himself out of a rut in his life.
“Masters, 56, lived on a boat with Sheba until he was jailed for a few weeks for trespassing. He said it was because he was at a public place with Sheba, who didn’t have her service dog vest on. Sheba spent a few weeks in the Escambia County Animal shelter. “She was in doggie jail. I was in jail.”
“The old sailboat had a leak and he had to pump water out every 24 hours. He said that while in jail, the boat sank, along with his possessions.”
Talk about a series of unfortunate events. It’s inspiring, to say the least, that a man can go through so much hardship without giving up. Even more so that he’s restoring order to his life, while bringing the priceless beauty of art into his community.
“I’m just trying to get some money together,” he said. “I’m not trying to be the homeless guy with all the problems. I have a little talent for painting, and that’s what I’m trying to do to make it by.”
Since he’s gotten his supplies, he’s been selling most of his artwork for $25-40.
“I wish I had started years ago,” he said. “Because I do have some natural talent.” Masters said he knows it’s hard for people to support the homeless in the community. “There are a lot of panhandlers out there these days,” he said. “I had my sign out for a few days, too. It’s not easy. But it’s what I do.”
Next time you see a homeless person, think twice about rolling your window up to a fellow Floridian. Master’s story goes to show that not all homeless people are beggars. Many people living on the streets of Florida have fallen on hard times, and need a hand to get back up.