Tomorrow is our fourth annual Cranksgiving ride, and we’re excited to be helping out Miriam’s Kitchen again along with the help from One Love Massive and all of our local friends. Join us tomorrow for a great ride, or consider supporting Miriam’s Kitchen by joining virtually!
Meet Linwood “Gato” Martinez-Bentley
Linwood “Gato” Martinez-Bentley grew up in Washington, DC in a strict military family. To help channel his boundless energy, Linwood’s mother connected him with the performing arts. Linwood quickly mastered percussion, flute, singing and dancing.
While Linwood’s musical skills were a point of pride for his family, his opposition to the war was not. Linwood’s unique perspective – questioning the war and participating in protests – got him kicked out at the early age of 15.
Thus began his whirlwind journey across the world and back home again. With the help of many family and friends, Linwood completed high school and graduated from the University of the District of Columbia with a double major in early childhood education and political science. He had a long career as a multicultural educator, working with children in DC and Central America. Life was good.
But in 2014, the bottom suddenly dropped out of Linwood’s world: His marriage ended. His job ended. He tried living with friends, but that soon ended. Linwood found himself homeless.
“I did the streets much better than I did the shelters,” Linwood recalls. For 18 months he lived outside, setting up a hammock so he didn’t have to sleep on the ground.
Last fall, Linwood’s daughter pleaded with her mother, “Please don’t let my father spend another winter on the streets.” So in December he went to live temporarily with his ex-wife. For a few months, Linwood was out of the cold.
When an opening became available in the Girard Street Senior Apartments, Miriam’s Kitchen case managers tracked him down and shared the good news.
With Miriam’s Kitchen support, Linwood signed his lease on July 1, moved into his apartment on July 7, and had a housewarming party on August 6. Friends and family (including his two daughters and two grand-daughters) gathered to welcome Linwood home. He says, “I call my home the Miracle on Girard Street, not the Miracle on 34th Street. My story makes believers out of non-believers that housing is possible for everyone.”