Beth Reed’s “El Guapo” foundation began in 1987 when Beth moved(from Ann Arbor, MI) to 140th Street in Harlem, a scary place at the time! “El Guapo” was the name of the market in Spanish (East) Harlem, where she found Butch, Jerry and other drug addicts, many of whom she was able to get into rehab and into new lives. There’s a lot more to the story than is shown here — dirty hallways, prisons, government red tape, violence, hospitals, far too many homeless children — but on the whole (thanks to Beth), it’s a happy story about a sad situation.
Beth is famous for riding her bike: she is 81 today, but still avoids public transport like the plague. She even rode her bike virtually everywhere when she was on a one year’s sabbatical in Switzerland! Needless to say, she’s in fantastic condition.
Her story was documented by Ursula (a Swiss photographer who made Beth a celebrity in that country), whose black-and-white photos (below) show the progress made by Beth and her homeless friends over the years. On Sunday, March 29, 2015, Beth celebrated Ursula with a party at her home on 140th Street, where so much has happened.
I met Beth in 1995 and have tried to be useful to her ever since, with some success (I sure could have done more — but what I did was always fun!!!) She’s been a wonderful friend and I am proud to know her.
Later, she also had an after-school program in her home for neighborhood kids (“Cool Kids Cookies”) that was highly successful, as are several of the kids today.
This is a very short film that features Beth’s work and people (among many others). The quality of the YouTube version is crappy, but if you can get your hands on Sue Vicory’s “Homelessness — The Power of One” DVD, the image quality is fabulous (you might also want to show it to others: the message is VERY powerful!)
Here is her story, in a (very) brief photo essay: