By Cindy Carano and Par Tolles

This is a Christmas story about Charles Anderson and Cailen Gersch.

You didn’t know Mr. Anderson’s name, but you may have seen him, drunk and unkempt, on the downtown Reno streets where he’d been living for years. At least, we have. Since our involvement with the Downtown Reno Partnership as the chair and vice chair of the board, we’ve become more sensitive to the complexity of homeless issues.

And you may not have met Ms. Gersch, either. She’s a social outreach coordinator with the Ambassador program of the Downtown Reno Partnership. She’s good at her job. After all, she lived on the streets herself for three years.

You’ve seen the Ambassadors in their blue and black uniforms. They help visitors to downtown. They alert the City to problems. And they build relationships with the chronically homeless.

When we heard about Mr. Anderson’s recovery, we were curious to learn more about his story. He’s 63 and has lived in Reno for 50 years. He worked in construction. He worked at warehouses. He was a popular bartender at Reno nightclubs.

He drank. He drank a lot for 30 years. He lived