Beat Homelessness: Lessons from a Navy Vet

Just over a year ago, Kevin Nelson, a U.S. Navy veteran, was homeless and living on the street. Today he's got a permanent address and is on the verge of making his entrepreneurial dreams a reality: In January, he'll be presenting his trademarked stereo speakers at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas--all expenses paid.

Nelson's path to homelessness began when a girlfriend took off with thousands of dollars that he was saving to help develop his speakers. "With my money gone, I couldn't pay the rent," he told RentedSpaces.

So he began living and sleeping in public areas of San Diego. During the day, he'd use the computers at the local library and post ads on Craigslist hawking his handyman services, which included fixing cars, TVs and other electronics. The experienced car mechanic used the money he earned to build custom high-performance stereos out of a friend's garage, and he'd sell those on eBay.

There are lessons we can learn from Nelson's inspirational story, and things neighbors can do to help the homeless get back on their feet.