'I see them as true people': Teen starts program to help San Francisco homeless

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- To say Abhishek Patel is compassionate would be an understatement. At just 17-years-old, Abhishek started the Homeless Benefactors Coalition.

On weekends, he spends time with the homeless.

Today he's in San Francisco's Tenderloin district passing out hygiene kits and food.



The soon-to-be high school senior said, "I see them as true people. Some people might see them as scary because they may have mental issues but I take them as regular people."

Abhishek had a lengthy conversation with Frank Asaro, who has been homeless for a decade.

The fact that the teen took the time to talk brought tears to Asaro's eyes.

"It's nice," Asaro said. "It hurts a little but I'll take what I can get. It hurts a little because he's a kid and I'm a grown man."

It all started in the Tenderloin. Abhishek used to come to this neighborhood as a child to visit his grandparents who own a hotel on Geary Street, so this essentially is his community.



His mother, Tejal Patel, is proud.

"To see my son want to help the same community it's amazing and for me it feels good," she said.

This is 19-year-old Sivam Patel's first time volunteering with the coalition.

"Being out here with him I was nervous at first. It's not something I'm used to. It's not something we generally do but it's been a great experience."

Shawn Barley is also homeless. "It's really nice the way he shows he loves us and cares," he said about Abhishek.

Abhishek plans to continue his efforts throughout the year in different cities in the Bay Area.

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