Steve Meehan is kinetic. A Long Island native, Meehan, 27, observes a passerby in a bustling coffee shop, turning his whole head to do so. Clear blue eyes work to search other’s faces, with a tangible concentration.
Sure, Meehan is an observant man. He is sensitive to those surrounding him, and he identifies himself as being someone who likes to be in a crowd, thriving off the chaotic nature of his hometown in New York. He is also completely blind in his left eye. Simply looking at others requires concentration and effort.
“I was getting a plane out of a tree for a little boy and fell out of the tree about 15 feet on my face. I was paddled back to life a couple times and was in a coma. I spent six days in a coma in intensive care, and I was there for about two weeks. I was always an athlete, so I began walking again after just a few days,” Meehan said.
The typical teenage struggles of fashion and social ranking now faded away as Meehan was faced with the start of his sophomore year of high school.
“I was told not to go back to school because I was left blind in my left eye and I was going to have trouble learning and I was going to have memory problems. The doctors told my parents that I shouldn’t even look into college and that it’d be almost impossible for me to get in or be successful,” Meehan said.
Meehan knew that sitting at home instead of returning to school was not an option. He returned to school in September of 2003, with minimal support from the private Catholic high school that he attended. As a result of the accident, Meehan had to have his hand completely reconstructed, requiring the use of a note-taker while in class. Meehan was also allotted extra time to complete exams to compensate for his memory and cognitive skill loss.
He worked tirelessly to obtain a feeling of normalcy while in school. Through his faith and increasing desire to help those in need, he found what he believes to be his calling. Humanitarianism. It wasn’t until attending Flagler College in St. Augustine that Meehan was able to find a channel to outlet this insatiable desire to help others.
“When I was a senior I would go to Panama Hattie’s with a Good News church van, and we would take people back to campus to make sure that they were getting home safe and not drinking and driving. We were there from probably 9:30 p.m. at night on Thursdays for Sink or Swim night and we would be out until probably 3 or 4 in the morning. We wouldn’t restrict it just to students we would take anyone who needed it home. It’s what Jesus is about. It’s about being there for people in their time of need,” Meehan said. “Basically my job, my volunteer job, was to hold a bag open for people to puke. I was cleaning up throw up and blood or anything that people needed.”
Meehan’s urge to aid those in need, spread from his peers to St. Augustine’s homeless population. According to a study conducted by the Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of St. Johns County in 2015, there are 1,161 homeless living in St. Johns County. Meehan started a nonprofit homeless outreach program, A Time for Change Movement, to combat these startling numbers.
“It started like three years ago. I was just praying one morning and I felt like God basically kicked my heart and I left a call to come downtown and help feed these people in need. I walked down there and my heart is racing and I’m freaking out and there was no one there and I saw this huge beautiful cross and that just took all of my anxiety today. So, I moved on and I went to St. George and went to Hypolita, and I found a man that was with a dog. I got some food from the Taco Shop and I told him my name was Steven and he said I know. I had fed him a year ago but he said that he had a different dog back then,” Meehan said.
This was the start to Meehan’s travels along the East Coast from St. Augustine to his hometown in New York, to aid those in need along the way. Meehan quit his job, packed up his car with food and bags of donated clothing, and stopped to feed and clothe the homeless in St. Augustine, Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington, Washington D.C. and New York City.
Meehan’s mother, Erin Meehan, supported her son’s ambitious journey.
I was so excited for him as he has incredible passion for the homeless and the poor. He wants not to only reach out and feed people, but he goes into the streets to love, listen and let them know that somebody cares, Erin said.
As for his future, Meehan wishes for the A Time for Change Movement to remain successful in feeding the homeless, but more importantly he aims to remind the homeless of just how powerful human compassion can be.
“I think that humanitarianism is just such a broad idea. What I think is different is with homeless is that it’s usually homes or soup kitchens. But the soup kitchens are so impersonal and the homes are very dangerous. Yeah. I’d like to feed them. I want to intentionally and individually be in their life. I want to hear their heart, I want to hear their life. I want to know them personally and let them know that they are a child of God,” Meehan said.