Six months ago, when Rex Hohlbein asked a man called Three Stars what would change his life, he said he needed a way to commute to and from the 15-foot aluminum rowboat he calls home.
Three Stars has been living in the boat, which has a covering to protect him from rain, in the Washington Park Arboretum for the last two years. Because the boat is too light to travel well in the wind, he needed another way to navigate to his year-round residence.
On Saturday, June 16, Three Stars’ wish became a reality. Hohlbein, the founder of a Facebook page called Homeless in Seattle, presented Three Stars with a nearly-new canoe, two paddles and four life-preservers.
Through Homeless in Seattle, Hohlbein shares photos and personal stories of people in the homeless community. The site is about raising awareness for those living without basic needs and counteracting negative stigma attached to homelessness, he said.
Along with personal stories he collects from the people he meets, Hohlbein often posts about things people need and want, and people often send in donations.
“It’s almost like a wishing well,” Hohlbein said. “It’s pretty amazing. People just respond.”
In the case of Three Stars, the site raised double the money needed. Leftover funds will be used for similar projects in the future.
Originally, Hohlbein planned to purchase a motor for the rowboat. But after it became clear Homeless in Seattle couldn’t raise enough money to buy a suitable one, he decided to purchase a $350 Coleman canoe.
Hohlbein and Three Stars met in a chance encounter, and over the last year Holbein has gotten to know and appreciate Three Stars and his passion for environmentalism.
At the presentation of the canoe, Three Stars spent an hour lecturing those in attendance about the environment.
Every day Hohlbein gets seven or eight texts from Three Stars about what he is seeing happen in the arboretum.
“He sees the stress that moment a turtle surfaces into a plastic bag,” Hohlbein said. “There are good beginning conversations about what litter is doing to our environment.”
Three Stars’ observation of the world around him makes him special, Hohlbein said, but what makes him truly unique is his commitment to living life on his terms.
“He is living responsibly and trying to make a difference in his own way,” Hohlbein said of his friend. “And, he is just a nice guy.”