COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – A recent Boise University student went on a three month journey across the country in an effort to humanize the homeless.
Justin Doering started the project “Fifty Sandwiches” by raising $10,000 through a Kickstarter back in May in Coeur d’Alene.
He started his journey in August. He tossed a mattress in a van and traveled the country. For three months, Doering went city to city offering to take homeless people out for a free meal in exchange for an interview to capture their experiences behind homelessness.
So far, he has interview 78 people an he was amazed by each person he spoke to. He saiid each interview left him in awe of their story and in appreciation of his newly widened perspective. But, one story of a man named Ian in Portland, Oregon stuck out to him.
"For someone who had dealt with abandonment, tragedy, addiction, and mental illness, his friendly demeanor and stubborn optimism taught me a lesson about always keeping your head up and gave me a newfound appreciation for the life I have," Doering explained.
He said most of his interview subjects are happy to share an intimate conversation with someone who cares to listen.
Doering said he has always had an interest in the public's perception of homelessness. He said homelessness is largely misunderstood in our society.
"As with any social group, the loudest minority speaks for the silent majority and I thought this project would be able to provide the public with an intimate glimpse into the diverse stories and experiences of America's homeless," said Doering.
Doering’s goal is to put at least 50 of the stories in a book. His hope is to close the gap between the perception of homeless and reality.