What John’s Story Looks Like | Interview

Name: John

Nicknames: Clyde (because people call he and his fiance Kisha Bonnie & Clyde…you can read her story HERE)

Born in: Maplewood NJ

When John’s grandpa passed away, he became homeless.

I asked if he liked Richmond, Virginia and he told us he would return to NJ if he could.

Do you talk to your family at all? He told me “they treat me like crap.” He said that they’ll talk to him when something good is happening in their life.

Growing up, John loved school. His favorite subject was math. I told him I totally respect that because I was very, very bad at math, LOL!

When we asked about employment that he previously held, John mentioned that he has a history of holding jobs for longer periods of time. One for seven years, one for ten years.

What is something you would want people to know about you? He mentioned the looks he’s given and how people will just walk right by you. Then John said something that broke my heart…”My grandma told that you choose to be homeless”. He reiterated how he would NEVER choose what is happening to him.

Was there a specific event that led you to becoming homeless or a combination of things? He reminded me it happened when his grandfather passed away from cancer. My mother had to foreclose on the house. So then instead of my mother getting a three bedroom, she got a two bedroom. That’s when I knew I was homeless.”

John then told us that his family is connected with him on Facebook, and I asked if they knew he was experiencing this and he said “they think this is a joke”.

“Without Kisha, I wouldn’t know what to do.”

That came up without any prompting. He just felt compelled to tell us that.

He said “my mother said (about he and Kisha) ‘it’s y’all against everybody else’” – our team at Homeless Looks Like agrees that with nicknames like Bonnie and Clyde, that description is pretty well fitting 🙂

What’s the hardest part about being homeless physically? John replied, “physically, sleeping in the street. I can’t get no sleep.” I said to John that I know he probably has to look out for he and Kisha’s stuff and he said “I don’t sleep…I let her sleep.” He said he may get a wink in, but he has to watch out for people who may try to rob or hurt you.

Whew…when he said “I let her sleep” – we were just over the moon for him. What a gentleman.

John said emotionally the hardest part of being homeless is not having a “plan B” and not having security. He has always felt a lack of security in his life.

I asked what the best thing to happen to him recently was and he couldn’t think of anything.

Growing up John said he never imagined he would end up homeless.


When I asked if anyone could give him anything right now, what would it be? John said “an apartment”. If they had to give something smaller to him at that exact moment…John said he would like them “just to spend some time” with him.

That is SO John to say something humble and kind like that.

John is so sweet you guys. His voice is so gentle and calm. He’s so incredibly nice. It was a gift to be in his presence for this interview.

What truth would you want people to know about homelessness? “People really treat you like crap… I wish we could trade shoes just for one day and see if you could make it.”

One day at VCU, a woman and a bunch of kids walked by and said out loud “I could only imagine”. I’m not sure you want to, lady. I wish she would have stopped and offered a kind gesture instead of just making her statement, but that is EXACTLY WHY we have started Homeless Looks Like. We want to spread awareness.

What do you want your life to look like one year from now? “To have an apartment, and have a car.”

Want to know what ended up happening with John? If you read our last blog post about his fiance Kisha…you already know! They ARE currently warm and in an apartment!!! Praise Jesus!

Thank you for reading about John and giving him a voice. You insist his story matters just by reading it. You are a big part of what is going to change people’s lives… THANK YOU for showing up for Homeless Looks Like.

Warmly, Amanda, Amanda + Mike

PLEASE LIKE US ON INSTAGRAM & FACEBOOK!

 

Shallow question answers from John HERE:

What Kisha’s Story Looks Like | Interview

I am thinking that you guys are going to really feel for Kisha. Her heart is made of gold and she’s short, scrappy (sound familiar? I think we are sisters LOL!) and engaged to a man named John whom we also had the pleasure of interviewing after her.

Nicknames? They call my fiancé and I Bonnie and Clyde because we’re always together.

Where are you from? Newark, NJ

Kisha made her way south when her sister told her to move down to Richmond, Virginia.

When I asked her about her family…she responded: “I don’t deal with them, when I stayed with them they treated us like crap.” She told us she really only talks to her sister.

School life & education: “I went to an inner city school, it wasn’t that good for me…I was picked on because I was small. I stayed in fights because of it. I just got tired of it. I used to just cry until I got tired of it. It turned me into a beast. In Newark you better fight. You better fight or they’re going to keep getting you.”

Jobs: Kisha worked at the airport in Newark cleaning the inside of the aircrafts. Then years later…she got a job working at the same airport. She was fired when she got tired dealing with an irate manager who was always in her face. Her favorite job she had? None. “I didn’t really have a favorite job, I just did them, cause I had to.”

I asked if she liked any activities or sports and she replied “I like music. Singing.” And when I asked her what her fiancé thought about her singing? She said he says what my daughters (the mermaid mafia) say “No, please stop”…LOL!

What’s something you would want people to know about you if they hadn’t met you before?: “To know that I’m human, too. To not look down on me because of where I am.” “I’ve been where you are and I keep telling people, ‘look, you could be in this predicament, too’.”

Kisha then mentioned she suffers from a few mental illnesses. She said that she does have medication she is able to get with insurance but that sometimes…she doesn’t have water or something to drink to take her medicine with. Can you imagine? Something some incredibly accessible for so many of us.

We then asked Kisha if she has to worry about her medication getting stolen (it would SHOCK you how many homeless people are robbed). She said she is really smart about keeping it close but that they’ve had to throw away so many things since becoming homeless, including sentimental items.

“You should see some of the looks we get, and the comments that are made.”

Amanda S: “Do people ever stop and ask if you need anything?”

Kisha: “You know something funny? The ones that are homeless help us out more.”

Was there a specific event that led you to being homeless? “Combination of everything…when he lost his job we couldn’t afford the light bill. And eventually… we had to move out.”

Then we asked how long her and her fiancé John had been engaged…she said eight years. We kept telling Kisha that there are people with all of the money in the world who will never know a love like hers. She started to cry. Our hearts started to break for her and I pulled out a tissue for her but really..I just wanted to let my tears roll down, too.

“I’m tired of being out here. The days are not that bad, but it’s bad enough…but night is when it gets worse.”

Kisha then told us how she repeatedly applies for jobs and tries so hard to find employment. One job called her back to hire her but didn’t contact her for the orientation and she repeatedly called them back about it. Talk about getting your hopes up.

What’s the hardest part physically about being homeless for you? “At night…if there’s nowhere feeding [i.e.: churches, shelters, soup kitchens] you gotta be hungry.”

What about emotionally? Kisha responded to this question and broke down. “Emotionally? I stay depressed. And I smile, I try to hide it. Every night I’m crying and crying and crying. I can’t even describe it, it’s just hard. In the day time it’s not too bad cause you can go in a lot of places like the library but the nights, it gets hard. And it’s getting colder.”

What’s the best thing that’s happened to you recently? She couldn’t think of anything…so I said, what about your man? And Kisha replied, “Just him. Basically we all we’ve got”

Did you ever think you would end up homeless? “No. Well, we had some homeless points when I was growing up but I didn’t think that I ever was going to wind up like this.”

What would you want somebody to say or do for you if they approached you when you were outside? “Just tell me where I can find affordable housing. That’s all.”

If they could get something for you right away what would you want? “I would want the food and the clothes, and I mean money can help and do a lot of things”.

Kisha is 50 years old and she wants to be independent. She wants to live in an apartment with her fiancé, John (who guess what…is our NEXT interviewee on the blog!).

And can we go ahead and spoil ALL of this for you???

THEY ARE IN HOUSING. Shortly after our interview…blessings started to come. Left and right. They were approved for an apartment and moved in and had a WARM, cozy Christmas. Friends of ours collected food, furniture, small appliances and SO many helpful items to give Kisha and John the life they have been dreaming of for so long. We did ALL of this just by word of mouth and only accepting a couple of donations from friends. Can you imagine the impact we can have as we grow?! THANK YOU to all who helped them!

Visit our Instagram for a sweet video from them HERE 🙂

And you know what…this interview stuff gets heavy. Really heavy. So we decided we would ask some lighter questions to lift the mood at the end of each interview…so officially introducing….SHALLOW QUESTIONS! Ridiculous but exactly what we needed to laugh together after digging deep into the hard stuff.

Thank you for reading about Kisha and giving her a voice. You insist her story matters just by reading it. You are a big part of what is going to change people’s lives… THANK YOU for showing up for Homeless Looks Like.

Warmly, Amanda, Amanda + Mike

PLEASE LIKE US ON INSTAGRAM & FACEBOOK!

 

Shallow question answers from Kisha HERE:

What George’s Story Looks Like | Interview

Could you ever have guessed my first interview would be my own dad? Meet George (aka Gdog to my girls).

As I sit here typing at 5 in the morning, it’s still pitch black outside…I’m instantly connected to the days when I would see my dad getting up even earlier to start his days. Make sure everything and everyone was squared away…that everything was getting done, he was ready for work, we were all getting to school as we needed to, etc. Loved his jobs, good at his jobs, always on top of house things like laundry and dishes and all of the things. Always moving and on the go and working hard. 

Someone who works that much, and that often, and that hard… how do they end up homeless?

I’m not asking but insisting that you break myth number one now – that the homeless just “need to get a job”. There’s always more to a story. You really never know until you ask.

 

There are different interview formats we conduct and this is for those who have transitioned OUT of homelessness. My dad has been out for a little while now and with the help of a mission (which he doesn’t want me to give credit to because he didn’t like them, lol, he said they were religiously extreme and in some cases I have to agree but I’m still going to mention that because it’s necessary) but he works part time and is doing great living in Norfolk, Va. Finding fresh glass versus sea glass, but nonetheless, HAHA.

INTERVIEW:

Name/nicknames – George – Little Dicky (and then I showed him the Chris Brown and Lil Dicky video and he actually knew who that was hahahahaha)

Born & raised – Hornell, NY, raised in Norfolk, San Diego, Kansas, Hawaii, Hampton Roads (father was in the Navy) then Glen Allen

Favorite job – Sales (pretty good and pretty proud of himself for those sales skills)

What is something you would want people to know about you? I tried to be a better person, a better father, a better employee, a better human being

Was there a specific event or combination of events that led to you finding yourself homeless? Employment, divorce, health issues
(*Article about homelessness and divorce HERE

How did you begin to transition out of homelessness? Social security income retirement, buy a vehicle and then part time work
*Dad mentioned how important the vehicle was. We almost think of getting the job first as being the most important but how can you get to a job without a vehicle, and how you can afford a vehicle without a job? TOUGH.

What are you doing now – living arrangements and work? Apartment, part time, social security

What’s the hardest part about being homeless physically? Poor quality of life feeling bad physically

What’s the hardest part about being homeless emotionally? Hopelessness

What is the best thing that’s happened to you recently? Hanging out with the girls (the mermaid mafia), with my children – impressed by Amanda (okay I lied. I added that part about him being impressed by me. But let’s leave it there:))

Did you ever think you would end up homeless? I used to think it all the time, and fear it all the time

What advice do you have for someone who wants to help or how to approach someone who is homeless? Do not EVER give them money. Ever. Get them the help and things that they need but it’s like feeding a seagull. Do not give them any money. Point them in the direction of a shelter. But do not give them any money.

^That response is very authentically my dad, LOL. Oh George.

I’m SO proud of my Dad for transitioning out how he has but I can completely understand how he ended up where he did. I was pregnant with Ellie when all of this started and I’ve watched him pick the pieces back up and we are so proud of him 🙂 The girls LOVE their Gdog!!!

xoxo, Amanda Hedgepeth 
Follow along on Instagram!
Facebook, too! 
Sign up for our NEWSLETTER here to stay in the loop with STORIES & INSPIRATION on how to help! 
And we’re on Pinterest, too 🙂

This is me literally waiting to hug you and hear your story. Thank you for being BRAVE!

Immediate Goal: IT COSTS $0 FOR THIS PART

GUYS! We are OVERJOYED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In a little more than ONE day, one day…ONE…we pulled off picking up over 1000 followers on our Instagram page for Homeless Looks Like on my birthday, launch day! THANK YOU! Thank you SO dearly for that! And for the Facebook likes. And the newsletter signups. And the messages and the love…THANK YOU!

I wanted to drop by here today to explain our IMMEDIATE GOALS because we are having so many people ask about donating right now but I’m SUPER by the book and I just can’t accept anything until we are all the way set up and official. I’m a weenie, I know. But I KNOW the holding off until we are fully set up as an organization in all the right places is the right thing to do AND will be worth it!

RIGHT NOW: We need stories. We need FACES. I PROMISE that the biggest power in making change is to pair an IMAGE (and maybe some Instagram video) with a story. Nothing will make a bigger impact! Think about what goes viral…is it just a written story most of the time? Sometimes, perhaps, but usually an image or video is paired with the story. That combination holds the power to create CHANGE and incite COMPASSION … this is where the connections are made between two seemingly different people, this is where we find out our similarities.

We need stories from:
Those who are currently homeless
Those transitioning out
Those who have fully transitioned out
Those who work in churches that aid the homeless
Those who work do homeless mission work
Those who work in shelters
Those who run non-profits
Those who volunteer for the homeless

We are willing to travel to the DC area, Richmond, Hampton Roads and in NC within 2 hours of the Outer Banks once a month to conduct interviews.

IF YOU HAVE SOMEONE FOR US – EMAIL US!!!! >>> Homelesslookslike@gmail.com

Our first story goes live on Monday. And guess what? Many of you may know this person. If you don’t, you’ll still be shocked about who it is. Trust me, you’ll want to “tune in” and check out the blog on Monday, September 24.

Also – SO EXCITING, next week I travel to Richmond to meet with an incredible non-profit that is doing such good work and transforming lives! What a joy, I’ll keep everyone updated and come back with some stories for you! 🙂

EMAIL ADDRESS: HOMELESSLOOKSLIKE@GMAIL.COM 

xoxo, Amanda Hedgepeth 
Follow along on Instagram!
Facebook, too! 
Sign up for our NEWSLETTER here to stay in the loop with STORIES & INSPIRATION on how to help! 
And we’re on Pinterest, too 🙂

This is me literally waiting to hug you and hear your story. Thank you for being BRAVE!

Here We Go!

If you’re reading this, you’re already a part of what is going to change lives. You showing up means SO MUCH TO US.

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE!

This idea was born less than a month ago. I had no idea how this would snowball into such a passion project…but it’s gone full speed ahead since and we’re taking you along for the ride. We are going to work very, very hard toward becoming a non-profit so we are able to provide so well for people who need it most… the people who are so often forgotten, the homeless. The voiceless and the invisible. What if I stepped in and shared their story and gave them the chance to have a voice and to be seen? And what’s going to happen when so many people realize how much they have in common with them? We are so much more alike than different.

Here’s a brief intro to let you know what our mission is and what we hope to provide.

MISSION: Our mission is to create CONNECTION and COMPASSION through story telling. We know story telling is powerful because of how we have shared about our family’s story with our community and how it’s affected lives positively and resonated with so many people. From my faith journey to losing a brother to addiction to Dave Ramsey and living the simple life, it all connects with people because stories do that. Story telling in incredibly powerful and we are feeling so compelled to use our story telling abilities to give those who don’t get to tell their story a platform to say this is who I am, this is my story.

I read a quote recently that said “homeless people become a part of the landscape” – regarding how we just literally walk by them like they’re an inanimate object. It broke my heart. I want them to be seen, the people who weren’t as fortunate to have a safety net to back them up when things got rough.

GIVING BACK: We have a few ways we plan to give back from in-person immediate need donations (shoes, socks, clothing, water, food) to making monetary and food/clothing/other donations to shelters and transitional housing that host people who are currently homeless. We’ll be traveling and collecting stories, giving these brave people a voice and place to share their story, and then providing something for them that they currently don’t have but need or would be so grateful for. This is starting small, but we DREAM of being able to provide money toward housing solutions one day. One step at a time, we will keep building this together…Mike, me and the person reading this right now. JUST BY SHOWING UP and spreading the word, you will give someone a better life…and we are thankful for that.

Because we want to do EVERYTHING officially and properly, we can’t accept donations at this time. We want to be able to, trust me! We are doing everything out of pocket right now. But the BEST WAY you can help now is spread the word! Here’s how below!:

Follow on social media :
Instagram
Facebook
AND sign up for our newsletter here! That’s all we ask right now!

Thank you for being a part of this mission with us, pals!

Together we can change the conversation about what homeless looks like.