People We See: Meet Amber Marie Causer

In this feature, Club Founder and Training Officer John Hawkins introduces you to people you see every day, but you might not know who they are. The Club reminds you that we all have names and our stories to tell.

Meet Amber Marie Causer

By John Hawkins
Club Founder and Club Education and Training Officer

For this installment of “People We See,” I decided to go to Olvera Street, looking for someone to interview. I just happened to be there at the same time as Brothers’ Helpers, a charity that was passing out dinners to the homeless. I asked about their organization, and they explained that they provide meals five days a week to more than 1,600 homeless people. They said it’s a partnership with five different churches – St. Bede’s in La Canada Flintridge, Holy Redeemer Church in Montrose, St. James the Less Church in La Crescenta, La Canada Presbyterian Church, and Our Lady Queen of Angels Church (La Placita) in Los Angeles. I’ll do some research and publish more info on volunteer opportunities in the next issue.

Brothers Helpers:

Born June 1, 1986
Amber was born in Denver, Colorado and moved to her mom’s house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when she was two years old. After a year in Pittsburgh, she moved back to Colorado, and when she was five she and her family moved to San Diego.

“I felt like I didn’t have nobody, so I started running the streets when I was eight or nine years old,” Amber said. “Not listening to my parents, hanging out with troublemakers, hanging out with gangs, doing drugs.” I asked Amber what type of drugs she did that young and she said, “Meth and any drugs you could think of pretty much, and I just got raised by the streets … that’s just how it was. When I was 13, I was taken away from my parents and put in foster care with my other brothers and sisters, all six sisters and four brothers. From there we all got separated and just got back together about three years ago thanks to Facebook.

“I was in and out of jail and rehab; I was in an all-girls school; and then finally I was put in a lockdown school. I was there until I was 21, and I frickin’ hated it but I ended up graduating and going into adult-type foster care. I was always in and out of homes but I never felt like I was ‘at’ home. I was never treated as family, I felt. So three years later I told myself that I am ready to take care of myself, even if I have to be on the streets. So I signed myself out of the system and here I am.”

Where do you spend your nights? “In my tent with my husband. In fact, he is there right now with our dog, Bro. I am just here getting food to take back. Bro is six months old and we just got him in January, Bro is my life, I love him so much. We take care of him better than we take care of ourselves sometimes.”

If you could have three wishes, what would they be? “The first would be to be able to be off the streets but not worry about where I am having to sleep, or if the cops are going to ‘f’ with us. But at the same time I like it outside; I don’t like being inside.” I asked Amber what it was that she liked about being outside and she quickly said, “The freedom – not being couped up, not having to worry about paying bills.

From left: John Hawkins and Amber Marie Causer

“The second wish would be to stop the drugs, to not always be dependent on drugs and to have a life, to not be messed with by gang members or other people, especially men; and I wish they would just realize I was married and would leave me alone.” I asked Amber which drug would be the first she would get rid of, and she said, “Probably the meth because it is so addicting; you just want it, want it, want it. It’s a craving, and if you don’t get it you feel sick, like you want to throw up kind of sick.” I was curious how much meth costs, so I asked her and she told me that for 10 bucks you could get enough to last a couple days.

Her third wish was for her dog Bro to realize that he doesn’t need to be scared of people and that there are people out there who care about him.

I asked Amber what’s the worst part of living on the streets, and she said, “The gangs – Temple Street Gang, Skid Row Gang.”

I noticed she was missing some teeth, so I asked her how she lost them. She said, “The meth, eats your teeth away. That’s usually the first thing to go, and then you start looking older.”

What’s your favorite candy? “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.”

What’s your favorite movie? A Walk to Remember.”

Do you read books? “I never fully learned how to read, so it’s frustrating. My husband tries to help, but it’s really hard for me.”

What’s your favorite childhood memory? “I remember when I was little, waking up on Christmas morning and my little brother, Christopher, who was sick, opened one of his presents and it was a puppy. He was so excited. He couldn’t believe it.”

Did you have a doll when you were younger? “My Grandpa, before he died, got me a Cabbage Patch Kid doll. I loved it … and I kept it until I was 15.”

What advice do you have for a 16-year-old kid? “Keep in school, don’t do drugs, go and achieve your dreams. Don’t let anyone, the bullies, get you down. Achieve your dreams, what you have inside.”

What was your dream? “I wanted to be either a Police Officer or a cosmetologist, or a vet.”

This was a tough one. Amber seemed like she didn’t have a chance from day one. But her attitude was amazing – such a good-natured woman despite facing so many roadblocks and struggles.

John Hawkins wished Amber well and provided support.

The interview was conducted by Club Founder John Hawkins on April 22, 2024 on Olvera Street. The contents described here were transcribed from a video recording.

In this feature, Club Founder and Training Officer John Hawkins introduces you to people you see every day, but you might not know who they are. The Club reminds you that we all have names and our stories to tell.