Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 27 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Vincent de Paul

One man’s stunning fall, from Harvard to homeless

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 07/14/15

A heartbreaking portrait of one man’s rise and fall, from Terence McCoy in The Washington Post:

In a city with thousands of homeless people, [Alfred] Postell may be the District’s most academically distinguished. Diplomas, awards and certificates clutter a closet at his mother’s apartment, buried artifacts of a lost life. He holds three degrees: one in accounting, one in economics, and one in law. On a summer evening, he sits inside a McDonald’s on 17th Street NW, a white towel wrapped around his head like a turban. Listening to him talk about his life is like dive-bombing into a dream. Everything at first sounds normal. But things quickly fall into disorder. The chronology hiccups. Incongruous thoughts collide. “Charleston,” he says, “I owned property there, in the city proper. The cotton fields were past the city limits. The cotton fields: They were past the city limits. I picked cotton once in my life. But the cotton fields were past the city limits. I lived within the city. We had property there. We inherited the property. Shortly thereafter, I drove to San Diego, California. I was in love with a girl.” But these pronouncements always arc back to a single idea. It anchors Postell in the turbulent waters of his schizophrenia. Postell, he tells himself and others, is an educated man. He worked hard. He did right.

But what happened? Read it all.So often, we see men like this on the street and step over them, or walk around them, or cross to a corner to avoid them. We never know where they come from. But this story reminds us they have histories and hopes—people who loved them and lost them. No one just ends up living on the streets. They have a story to tell.

Pray for them. What happened to them could happen to many of us.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
VATICAN LEGOS
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
2
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
3
Tolkien
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
4
PADRE PIO
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
5
Giovanna Binci
He’s autistic, she has Down syndrome, and they’re wonderfully hap...
6
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
7
peace
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More