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Crowdfunder: How one millennial plans to close the gap between public perception and reality about the homeless

LatinaLista — In an era where income inequality is growing faster than the passage of living wages, more and more people are finding themselves living paycheck to paycheck. A sudden illness, accident or layoff can hurl hard-working people into the streets, literally overnight. They join the throngs that call highway underpasses, bus stop benches, crowded shelters and littered sidewalks home.

Too often the down-on-their luck homeless find themselves should-to-shoulder with those homeless who are mentally ill. Homelessness is the new melting pot of the 21st Century.

One young man doesn’t want society to forget that the homeless are individuals with their own stories, hopes and dreams.

Justin Doering graduated from Boise State a year early. He decided to use the extra time to do something amazing. He’s embarking on a cross-country journey dedicated to presenting the public with a rare glimpse into the lives and stories of America’s homeless. Their unique and unheard experiences will be captured in a project called Fifty Sandwiches, which will strive to give a collective face to an issue too often perceived as a social nuisance.

The goal of Fifty Sandwiches is to close the gap between public perception and reality, effectively humanizing the homeless. The book aims to create an almost unnerving emotional connection between the reader and the struggling stranger they walk past every day. This project hopes to give a collective face to an issue too often perceived as an inevitable rung in the social food chain.

Justin plans to toss a mattress in a van and travel the country interviewing members of the homeless population. Each face, sandwich, and story, will be documented extensively in Fifty Sandwiches.  Throughout the journey, the experience as a whole will be updated on Instagram and the Fifty Sandwiches blog, culminating in a book.

Justin will be traveling city to city, offering to take homeless people out for a free meal in exchange for an interview. Well, more of just a casual chat between strangers rather than interviews.  As each chat progresses, these talks will evolve into a dynamic collection of life struggles, stories, and philosophies from a population that is rarely given a voice.

Justin plans to interview as many people as possible to guarantee an authentic selection of stories and experiences that accurately portray the true diversity among the homeless population. As of now, the number of people he plans to interview will be at least one hundred, but 185 Sandwiches just doesn’t have that ring to it!

Secondly, it is important to understand that the people in this book will only have two things in common with one another: they ate a sandwich, and they are homeless. Outside of that, their life’s struggles, loves, experiences, and aspirations are all vastly distinct.

This idea of traveling throughout the nation to transform the public’s view of homelessness has been waiting patiently on my to-do list for more than six years. Throughout my education I have taken every opportunity possible to focus my projects on homelessness and the public’s misconceptions regarding the homeless population.

It is not an overstatement to expect this trip to be a major life-changing experience. I like to think my senses for adventure are untamed, managed only by budgetary constraints. This life offers an endless buffet of remarkable experiences and I’m not here just to have a taste. The idea of tossing a mattress in a van and traveling the country to get beat over the head endlessly with culture-shock excites me to no end ~ Justin Doering

Funding goal is $10,000

Campaign: Fifty Sandwiches

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