I met Kevin and Mindy at Freedom Gathering on 14th Street in Bradenton. Freedom Gathering is a storefront church that provides a volunteer-prepared weekly meal and outdoor church service to the community on Thursday nights. It’s huge, feeding well over 100, but there’s a family feel to the event. Tonia, the owner of the property and the founder of the church, goes through the food line personally greeting and hugging everyone who’ll allow it.
Kevin is a tattoo artist who owned his own studio in Sarasota. He and his girlfriend Mindy are addicted and homeless living on the streets of Bradenton. Kevin lost his business to crack cocaine a few years ago. They’re both personable and engaging but guarded. Kevin admired my tattoos and when I told him they were the work of Matt Norris at Webber Street Tattoo his eyes lit up, “He used to work for me! I trained that guy.” I saw Matt a few days later. He confirmed it. Told me that talented as he was, no-one ever booked Kevin for an afternoon appointment. After lunch he was always too drunk to work.