Photo by Juan Carlos Lara

In late March, Matthew North applied to work with the city’s Pit Stop program, which maintains public toilets and sinks throughout the city. He had heard about the job from a friend. 

“I said, ‘that would be a cool job,’ and asked my friend for the supervisor’s number. A week later I had orientation, the next day I started,” North said. 

The new hire first worked at a “unit,” as he calls them, in Hunters Point but currently works on the corner of 21st and Shotwell streets. The bathroom was temporarily installed in May next to a homeless encampment.  

On Sunday, North said, he saw several people crowding around a man on the ground , and he quickly realized the man was overdosing. 

“His whole body was going white, his lips were blue,” said North.

In his pocket, he had Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses opioid overdoses. He had it on hand because he had heard about the frequency of overdoses.

North quickly administered the Narcan and then gave the man CPR, who he learned was living with foster parents as a teenager. 

“As I was doing it, I was on the phone with 911. … but he was fine after I gave him CPR, you could see he was moving, he was conscious,” North said. 

North, who was born in North Carolina and only moved to San Francisco just over a year ago, said his time in the city and in this job have been “a journey.” 

The young man said he likes to wander the country, never staying anywhere for too long, and has only stayed in San Francisco for this long as part of a probation agreement, which limits his travel for three years. 

“I’m keeping positive, got a job. … I’m just bearing down and dealing with it as best I can,” North said. “The world is what you make it.”

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Juan Carlos Lara covers business and development in the Mission. Juan Carlos, a San Francisco State alum, is as much a photographer as he is a writer and previously worked as the campus news editor at Golden Gate Xpress, SF State’s student paper.

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  1. Now that’s community support!
    I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to thank Matthew North for his quick action and his display of humanity. Saving a life is no small thing!

  2. Thank you all so much. Just glad I was able to help! Wish the city would provide Narcan for situations like this, then we could possibly prevent future deaths due to overdos

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