By: Mariel Carbone
October 11, 2016
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- According to the Big Bend Homeless Coalition, the Big Bend has nearly 900 homeless people. Nationally, that number jumps to more than 500,000.
One recent Boise State University grad is working to showcase the true meaning behind being homeless.
Justin Doering is traveling across the country interviewing homeless people in all different cities. He calls it "Fifty Sandwiches."
The communications grad began his journey August 12, and he has spent the past several days here in Tallahassee.
The idea is to sit down with the homeless over lunch-over a sandwich-and talk about the circumstances of their lives. He said the goal is to humanize the homeless.
At the end, Doering will compile a book detailing the stories of those he meets. All of this, a kickstarter campaign and non-profit, of the same name.
So far, Doering has visited about a dozen different cities including Dallas, San Antonio, Reading, New Orleans and Florida's capital city. His plan is to talk to between 100 and 150 people. 50 of those interviews will go into his book.
Doering said there is more to being homeless than just being homeless. Everyone has a story- none are the same. And, he is trying to break the stereotype of what defines a homeless person.
"I named it Fifty Sandwiches because to name it fifty homeless people would be deducing the point.Because the only thing they have in common, is that they ate a sandwich," said Doering. So I think there is no blanket statement you can put over every single person that I've interviewed aside from the fact that they're homeless. And the idea is to foster the realization that there's more to being homeless, than being homeless."
Doering said the circumstances for a lot of the people he has met arise from everyday situations, like expensive medical bills, or a house fire; things that could happen to anyone.
And, the circumstances differ from place to place. The story behind someone who is homeless as a result from drug abuse in Baton Rouge may be totally different from that of a person who is homeless as a result of drug abuse here in Tallahassee.
Doering is about two thirds of the way through the project.
His next stop after Tallahassee is Atlanta, Georgia.
You can follow Doering's blog at fiftysandwiches.com.