10 years ago, business was great and gas prices were at a low. I had the opportunity to travel across country with my dog for six weeks, discovering the United States from New Hampshire to California and back. As of January 2012, I will have done another road trip… not across country, but here in my home state, New Hampshire... with the same camping gear, the same dog, but for a different purpose.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Are You Looking for a Home in New Hampshire?

No view tax, central air, diversity of neighbors, water front property,  westerly view, convenient location, unlimited bedrooms, newly developed, and the housing structure is guaranteed for life.

All you need is no job, no home, no support system, and to be ostracised by the general public.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Panhandler Part II

On Dec. 30th I had posted Part I of my interview with a panhandler.  For those that like to give to the less fortunate may I make a suggestion?

Instead of handing over cash... give a beverage, a meal, or a gift card, or let them know about the nearest soup kitchen, food pantry, or shelter home.  Something they can use to get them through the day.  Whether it's a beverage or a cup of soup to keep them warm, a meal with nutrional value, or a option for them to eat when hungry, these ideas hold greater value than cash to those who are in real need.

Interviewing a Panhandler (Part II)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Few Faces

Eight days of driving across New Hampshire into different towns and cities seeking resources for the less fortunate, is now over.  The project for me is done, but it hasn't changed for those I've met along the way. They are constantly trying to stay warm, find their next meal, and watch their back.  

I found it difficult to carry the camera around when I wanted to meet and gather stories from those that are trying to beat the odds.  I got just little pieces of each one's story, financial situation, and/or being homeless.  I didn't want to intimidate anyone in anyway with my camera. With vulnerability and uncertainty of the people I talked to, I decided to leave the camera in my truck.  If the situation allowed later on, I would ask permission before I even lifted the camera up to take off the lens cap.

There were just a few who were comfortable enough to allow me to take their picture.
Thanks goes out to each one of them!

Living on the streets isn't for anyone, but it sure is happening...
25% of those that are homeless are Veterans.  
The population of homeless children and young adults continues to increase.
Over 90% of homeless women have reported being sexually assaulted.  

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mission Incomplete

I've been traveling throughout New Hampshire for eight days seeking information about the State's resources for those who are struggling financially and to open the eyes to those that may not understand what we can do to help.  Yes, I did this during the busy holiday season, but the truth is when you are homeless or having financial hardships, the days are all the same... just another day to try to survive. The days blend together and you lose sense of what day and time it is.  The time I put aside for my "Road to Recession" trip barely opened the doors to what is available for those who are in need of these services.  And there is so much more to learn: "red tape", Federal and State vs. charitable funding, continuous stereotyping on the word "homeless", options for pet owners who are struggling financially, and the negative ideas about shelter homes.

The idea of shelter homes being dirty, unsafe, infested with lice and/or bed bugs didn't hold true when I stopped to ask questions on specific shelters: New Horizons, The Tyler Blain House, The Bridge House, 100 Nights, and The Cross Roads.  These problems can exist at any place you go (even the best of hotels), but shelter homes take all precautions and preventive measures it keep this from happening.

Shelters in New Hampshire DON'T take in dogs.  There is only one shelter home, The Bridge House, partners with White Mountain Foster and Rescue by taking in dogs only if room allows.  The dogs stay on the men's side of the shelter since women and children are on the other side.  The separation between children and dogs is for liability reasons.  I did test this system last night.

I went to The Bridge House to see how and if I can get in the House.  I went to the front desk, told my story: looking for work in the area, homeless, living out of my truck, but my truck broke down, "Can my dog and I stay?"  After the staff's eyes  stared me down for an uncomfortable minute and asked me a couple questions about my situation, I was in the door.  Usually the dog would have to be taken on the men's side, but my well tempered dog, Sydney, was allowed to stay with me as long as she stayed on a leash.  We were escorted to the library to stay for the night on a cot.  During my visit,  I found the staff and the resident's to be very pleasant.  There were about four children staying at this shelter.  All residents presented themselves well with showers, clean clothes, and good attitudes.  I did hear a few stories from those staying at the House and each one I spoke to wants to better themselves.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

... with no home to go to.  As you know, I started this project on a Federal holiday when businesses were closed, it made for a tough start living on the streets and finding a meal.  After many phone calls trying to seek resources on my own, I did discover 211 could be a handy number to have.  It's the New Hampshire Hotline and can help you find the resources you need when you are homeless or undergoing financial hardship.  Check it out, donate, and let those know who may need it.

Today I'm on a secret mission.  Today is classified.  Tomorrow I'll let you know.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cross Roads House

So far this week, I hadn't personally entered any of the shelter homes in New Hampshire.  I've only made some calls for availability and to gather information.  I had hoped to visit The Bridge House, the one and only shelter in New Hampshire that accepts pets (A recent document from a vet is needed for the pet to stay.).  Sydney and I were going to seek resources in the Plymouth area, but when I talked to the Director from the The Bridge House, I did not feel welcome.  She was direct, defensive, and assumed I was doing this project for reasons other than for personal interests.  I informed her twice that "This project is a personal project." She informed me that she has no time to look at my blog or write down my Website.  This is not the typical response that I've been receiving since I've started this project.  I asked her if she could at least explain the process for entering the shelter.  She briefly explained the paperwork process starts from the individual's town welfare office.  It seems like a lot of preparation work needs to be done before you can get help at this shelter.  I didn't know people had to plan ahead to stay at this shelter home.  What do you do when you have no place to go when you are in a desperate need for shelter?  Certainly, not Plymouth.  I will try and seek The Bridge House another time.

Cross Roads House
As my day became sidetracked, I had to make more calls and reroute.  I made a call to Portsmouth, NH.  I received a warm welcome to come to the Cross Roads House.  Being so???, Portsmouth we went.  What a Promise Land for those who are struggling.  Cross Roads was a five million dollar project for a new building that is now two years old that holds over 100+ beds!  Two-thirds of the Cross Roads House annual million dollar operating budget is privately funded.

During my tour of the House, I witness a food donation that came from a funeral reception.  A chafing dish with a hot meal complete from salads to desserts.  This donation could serve half of the residents of the House.

I met several individuals staying at this shelter.  Two of them are at the House due to injuries from accidents that lead to them losing their jobs, apartment and/or home, and are now trying to get back on their feet.  One is volunteering until she is well enough to join the job market.

Phase I  women's shelter in the Cross Roads House

Phase II women's shelter in the Cross Roads House

Friday, December 30, 2011

Panhandler Speaks Out

I spoke to a twenty-something year old woman who has been panhandling for three months.  She was bundled up in four layers with a hood covering most of her face.  I spoke with her for 20 minutes to try to understand her means of survival.  Does she have a wish?  She has many.  As for a career... she wishes to be a Corrections Officer someday. While we talked, people generously gave her money.

She holds a piece of cardboard that says "Homeless Any donations will help.  Thank you and God bless."

Interviewing a Panhandler (<seven minutes long)