homeless

'The Road I Call Home'

'The Road I Call Home'

The Road I Call Home is a joint project of Gathering Friends for the Homeless and 7 Billion Ones and features the photography of highly noted, award winning portrait photographer artist, Randy Bacon.

The Road I Call Home's mission is to build a new awareness about our relationship to homelessness and to each other - to give a voice to the voiceless and begin a conversation that will be a powerful inspiration for people to get involved with efforts to help the homeless and alleviating the problem within communities across the nation. 

This project started in Springfield, Missouri in 2016 and continues to grow as we are now chronicling the portraits and stories of homeless individuals across the United States. To date, we have captured the portraits and stories of over 150 individuals that have experienced or are currently experiencing homelessness, and are continually adding to the exhibit and story archive.

The Road I Call Home large scale portrait exhibition features over 40 images and stories that travels nationwide, including Photo Con - Oklahoma City, OK,  Photo Expo South - Little Rock, AR, Springfield Art Museum (2019), Saybrook University Annual Conference - Monterey, CA, Missouri State University Art Gallery, Drury University's Pool Art Center, Evangel University, Mercy Hospital + many more.

We strongly believe that every single life is valuable, that every person, every voice, every life counts, and we all matter equally. The homeless are marginalized individuals and communities that are often overlooked, feel forgotten, alone, unloved. This is an injustice and it is our job as fellow humans to seek truth, bring awareness and real, lasting change to the world, and to speak up for the voiceless.

With The Road I Call Home, you can read the heartfelt stories, experience the amazing portraits, and watch the corresponding short film about the beautiful individuals we call our homeless friends. It is our hope that you will see each person as the unique, loved, one-of-a-kind creation that they are, that you choose to treat the homeless with love and compassion, as you would others, and that you seek to make a difference in your community. If we all do this, big change will keep happening, people will join together, lives will change, and we can all be a part of making this earth we call home a peaceful, loving, beautiful place for all humankind.

 

CLICK HERE if you want to bring 'The Road I Call Home' project to YOUR community to feature the traveling exhibit in your area, and/or chronicle the stories and portraits of your homeless community.

CLICK HERE to be an important and necessary moving part of capturing the true lives of our friends on the streets, in all parts of the world by donating. Every penny helps us continue to chronicle more stories and portraits and fund the framing and printing for the physical exhibit to expand and touch more lives.

Gary "Worth Something"

Gary "Worth Something"

“Right now I’m struggling with being homeless. Knowing where I’m gonna lay my head, gettin' up in the morning, wondering where my next meal gonna come from. The struggles of homelessness...dealing with the suicide issue...I felt left alone in the dark, I didn’t care, didn’t have no home, didn’t want to live. Didn’t want to be here, just wanted to be resting in peace. ‘Cause being homeless is no rest at all. When I leave up outta here...see, you go home and lay your head on a pillow, and I gotta put mine down on some cement.”

READ GARY’S STORY HERE

Romona "I'm Not That Special"

Romona "I'm Not That Special"

Before Founding Safe to Sleep, a women’s shelter, Romona had a life filled with many adventures, yet nothing prepared her for the life changing work she now does with the homeless community...

“From roaming fields and woods with my friends, my BB gun and cowboy boots as a kid, then as an adult cooking something different every night for a month when I was newly married, lugging my baby to the nearby library to get out of the house and practice sketching his little hands, conquering the 70 mile hill in Zimbabwe on a bicycle, riding with mission teams in the back of a pickup truck in Nicaragua – none of that prepared me to walk into a gymnasium in the morning and start calling each of the thirty women in the homeless shelter by name, giving a smile and “good morning", a touch on the shoulder or even a hug. Forcing myself to get up at 4am to check in at Safe to Sleep, I pray that God will allow me to slow down and dispense dignity and grace.”

READ ROMONA’S STORY HERE

Georgeanna "Chapter 1 - Choosing to Live"

Georgeanna "Chapter 1 - Choosing to Live"

"I almost jumped. As I sat on the ledge, reflecting on my heartache, I began to think about my son. Leaving would not be fair to him. I had started focusing on all of my hurts and I became lost in it. I was only thinking about the overwhelming pain I had in my life.

I thought about how my son is doing so well and how he is making me proud of the things he is doing. My son is going places and I started thinking how lucky I am to get to be around to see that."

READ GEORGEANNA’S STORY HERE

Sergeant Bobby "The Oklahoma Standard"

Sergeant Bobby "The Oklahoma Standard"

"I am Sergeant Bobby and I have been on the "HOT Team" (Homeless Outreach Team) for a little over two years with the Oklahoma City Police Department. The "HOT Team" works with the city’s homeless population, trying to connect them with housing and other services…in hopes of getting them off the street. Especially now with it being so hot, we also deliver water and other necessities, such as food, to those in need.

Our community is compassionate and I do think it helps a lot for our citizens to see the police force having a heart. Ultimately, I think everybody always deserves another chance."

READ SERGEANT BOBBY’S STORY HERE

Caitlin "Never alone, Never Afraid"

Caitlin "Never alone, Never Afraid"

Have you ever just wanted to give up in the face of fear, pain, loss and hopelessness? Caitlin has faced many battles in her life and is still fighting to get off the streets, to live a full life, to provide for her kids, to bring hope to others..even in the midst of the struggles she is facing and the pain she has endured, she refuses to let fear run her life.

READ CAITLIN’S STORY HERE

Jennie "Homeless, Not Worthless"

Jennie "Homeless, Not Worthless"

“So I became homeless with a broken leg and pretty much out of my element. I was scared. I was really scared. One thing I’ve learned, though, is that we’re a lot tougher than we give ourselves credit for. We’re a lot more resilient and we adapt. I adapted. It hasn’t been easy, but I have become a better person because of it. I’ve learned a lot of ugly truths about myself.”

READ JENNIE’S STORY HERE

Tommy (Chapter 1 & 2) "Appreciate The Moments"

Tommy (Chapter 1 & 2) "Appreciate The Moments"

“The hardest thing about being homeless is not being able to help other people. Seeing other people homeless and wanting to do something for them and maybe give them a place to stay for the night or a ride or something like that. It’s just hard for me because I like to help people.”

READ TOMMY’S STORY HERE

Jason "It Starts With One"

Jason "It Starts With One"

“And I don't even necessarily care about myself, I get along fine on the streets, eat three meals a day without even getting welfare! But what about the old lady? What about the old man? What about the...someone who has a mental issue? It's a lot harder for them.”

READ JASON’S STORY HERE

Maranda "Doug's and My Hope"

Maranda "Doug's and My Hope"

“The day I had my daughter, I pretty much became homeless. I was at my Mom’s when I went into labor, and after that I couldn’t go back to my house. We just stayed in the car, stayed at a friend’s house - I was able to sleep there most of the time at night. During the day I just went places with the kids.”

READ MARANDA’S STORY HERE

Darren "Live Life To The Fullest"

Darren "Live Life To The Fullest"

“Being an ex felon, I ended up working a minimum wage job and still trying to support my kids. I also had to let my businesses go. I lost a lot of money and ended up homeless. I was homeless for three years in Arkansas; almost three years in Missouri. I came up here to help my little sister, who is also homeless, get off the street. Well, it's my baby sister. Gotta keep her safe, you know?”

READ DARREN’S STORY HERE

Stephenie and Daniel "Being Selfless"

Stephenie and Daniel "Being Selfless"

“You need to make memories - that’s what you need to worry about. The people that we love and cherish - I mean, there are people who have lost their children and you can’t get that back. Being selfless. If you can’t see past your own nose, you’re not going to get very far with happiness.”

READ STEPHANIE AND DANIEL’S STORY HERE

Michael "My Future Is Bright"

Michael "My Future Is Bright"

“The part I remember most about being homeless is how much I hated all the moisture, all the wetness, and the cold. I could handle the cold without the moisture, I could handle the moisture without the cold, but the two combined just kills you…”

READ MICHAEL’S STORY HERE

Omari "No Place Like Home"

Omari "No Place Like Home"

“I used to look down on homeless people, but, being there? I think there are a lot of good people that just need a chance. You know, and not everybody is given that chance. I feel so fortunate, in my life, to have an advocate that is really trying to help me.”

READ OMARI’S STORY HERE

Kevin "Hold Your Head Up"

Kevin "Hold Your Head Up"

“Being homeless, I’ve learned some lessons over the years about living life to the fullest. Like learning that you're not the only one out there - learning that you can help someone else in the same situation, or maybe somebody who’s trying not to be homeless. I was homeless for nine years before I was able to get into my apartment.”

READ KEVIN’S STORY HERE

Donnis "All Back To The Smile"

Donnis "All Back To The Smile"

“Advice I would give to others? The magic to all of it? It’s a smile. You know what I’m saying? If you can’t find that, you got a problem. It’s not the world, it’s you.”

READ DONNIS’S STORY HERE

Lesli "Making The Best Out Of It"

Lesli "Making The Best Out Of It"

“I’ve been homeless for twenty years – pretty much since I moved out of my mom and stepdad's house as a teenager. I grew up Jehovah’s Witness, very sheltered and completely stupid about the real world outside church walls or mom and dad’s walls. I moved out of their house and into my own place and in that first two weeks I was out on my own, I experienced pretty much everything. I got drunk for the first time. I hung out with boys for the first time. I even experimented with a couple of different types of drugs for the first time. Everything was so new to me and I didn’t know what to do except what everybody else was doing. Shortly thereafter, with my new freedom, I found myself homeless.”

READ LESLI’S STORY HERE

Carol "Nothing For Granted"

Carol "Nothing For Granted"

“The hardest thing about being homeless is not really knowing what tomorrow brings. There’s no promise, no stability. And it’s hard. Some days you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. One of the hardest things is getting help - people abusing the system - sometimes taking advantage of the resources we have - making it hard for the people who really need it to take advantage of those things.”

READ CAROL’S STORY HERE

William "Live Every Day"

William "Live Every Day"

“I’m homeless because I can’t really get my life together at the moment. Because of the death of my daughter. It’s really hard to talk about. At the moment, I just chose it. One of these days I’ll get my life back in order. Which I had my life back in order until that happened. It was a blow to my heart. It’s hard to bury your kids, man.”

READ WILLIAM’S STORY HERE

Jamie "New York Second"

Jamie "New York Second"

"I go to Bass Pro Shop to see the fish, and see all these people walking in there with families and I go, you know, they have homes to go to and I don't. When they leave here they have got somewhere to go.”

READ JAMIE’S STORY HERE

Charlie "A Step In The Right Direction"

Charlie "A Step In The Right Direction"

“I want to say is that I just want people to get to know me --- get to know Charlie, the person, not the homeless Charlie, or not the drunk Charlie, not the violent Charlie at times, not the Charlie with PTSD but get to know me. Yes, I would love to be the person that I was at one time before all of this but that person I’ve lost. And I'm working hard to get that person back. Until then just get to know me, Charlie, as I am now.”

READ CHARLIE’S STORY HERE

CoCo "Three Years Ago CoCo"

CoCo "Three Years Ago CoCo"

“There’s not one thing that led me to a homeless life. However if I had to say one of the main causes was that I was ill prepared for life by my absent, alcoholic, mentally psychotically abusive mother.”

READ COCO’S STORY HERE

Chuck "Kid At Heart"

Chuck "Kid At Heart"

“Life lessons I’ve learned? Generally I would say have a heart. Share. I’m kind of quiet and sink into my own world. It’s not that I’m shy, I’m just quiet. I always check my territory out, my environment. But really, just realize in this world, be nice to each other.”

READ CHUCK’S STORY HERE

Mark "Today Is A Gift"

Mark "Today Is A Gift"

“Today’s a gift - what can you do to make a better future for yourself? We’re all here for a reason and a purpose. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Some people say “look at what my parents did” - but go stretch to the next level, don’t become a victim of life’s circumstances but rise above it like an eagle and soar and fly high.”

READ MARK’S STORY HERE

Lester "I Do Care"

Lester "I Do Care"

“If there was just more love and kindness in this world, it would be a much better place… It would be. And I may not see it, but I hope my kids or my grandkids do. I love them until the day I die. What the world needs is to really sit back and look at one another and have love, kindness and understanding. No matter who you are, no matter where you’re at.”

READ LESTER’S STORY HERE

Jakki "Be Happy Again"

Jakki "Be Happy Again"

“I do not know what my dreams for myself are right now. I know that I do wish to see myself back, head high knowing that I’ve got things together and that I can go home and I can close a door and leave it all outside. But at the same time, what’s the point in having four walls and a door when it’s empty? With no more babies crawling across the floor, no more young ones screaming, no more crying, no more giggling, no more cartoons. Nobody to cook for. I just don’t see a point. Yet for some reason I’m working on it, though. For the kids’ story of what happened so that’s not what they know of their mom in the end.”

READ JAKKI’S STORY HERE

Tim "Go By Your Heart"

Tim "Go By Your Heart"

“A broken heart led to my being homeless. I was married for twenty years. I lost my wife and I just haven’t got over it. I just got fed up with it all and said “Here, kids, take everything, and I’m on the road.” I’m beyond thinking the world owes me something. I never thought the world owed me something. You know, I’m happy. As happy as I can be for right now. Until I figure out which way I want to go. And I don’t know yet.”

READ TIM’S STORY HERE

Pinky "Blessed To Be Me"

Pinky "Blessed To Be Me"

“There’s been a lot of people that’s been there for me through my pregnancies. All of my homeless friends. I take care of them, they take care of me. Whatever they needed, somebody to talk to, to vent on. Come to me. Ask me. I may have an answer, I may not. I’ll give you advice if I can. I help teenagers that need advice. I get called ‘Mama Pinky’ all the time. It’s a blessing. I love being called Mama. If they’re having trouble they’ll be like “Mama, I need advice”. If you just listen to everything that’s going on, pay attention to what’s going on - because if you pay more attention to your heart, you’ll know what to do.”

READ PINKY’S STORY HERE

James "A Most Awesome Dream"

James "A Most Awesome Dream"

“My dream is to have a little house and a wife. When I would come home from work she would give me a kiss and I would see how the kids are doing and play with them.”

READ JAMES’S STORY HERE.

Melissa "Existing But Not Living"

Melissa "Existing But Not Living"

“Always remember the person that’s breathing the same air has feelings too. You should always think of everything you do has consequences. People tend to be selfish and self absorbed. They don’t think about their actions, what they do to somebody else. I’ve always been a strong person - I’m not that person no more. I’m broken. See why I’m leaving? I know it’s not going to be easy and I’ve got a long road ahead of me. But it will be a blank piece of paper to write - just start writing a new story. I’ve never depended on anybody or put my faith in somebody so much. I don’t know who I am anymore.”

READ MELISSA’S STORY HERE

John "Not Causing No Trouble"

John "Not Causing No Trouble"

“In the late '90's I was diagnosed with cancer. I haven’t been doing much since I came down with it. Boy, that took up years. Back in 1998 - took chemotherapy for three years, which was worse than the cancer. I would throw up every day, all day. I would have one, maybe two days a week where I wasn’t throwing up. But the good Lord healed me from that. So far I’ve been cancer-free.”

READ JOHN’S STORY HERE

Pops "People Forget You Are A Human Being"

Pops "People Forget You Are A Human Being"

“I have been homeless for four years and living in the cold is the hardest part of being homeless. This is my fourth winter, and whew, it's been hard. Summer’s not too bad, but I can’t do the winters no more.”

READ POPS’S STORY HERE

Lyzz "Keeping Looking To The Future"

Lyzz "Keeping Looking To The Future"

“My advice to others about how to live life to the fullest would be to keep looking to the future, not always to the past because the past can’t be changed. You can learn from it, but you can’t change it. That’s the most said thing. The past is the past, the future is the future. Go for what you can achieve, not for what you have achieved.”

READ LYZZ’S STORY HERE

Joey "Helping Others Is A Powerful Thing"

Joey "Helping Others Is A Powerful Thing"

“I’d been homeless off and on for over five years, lived in my car, camped out, lost my car, camped out. My homelessness came about from a series of events. Totally a combination of things that happened within a fairly short period of time. And I had places to live off and on. I got jobs, then I lost jobs and got kicked out. Next thing I knew, I was camping off of the railroad tracks. And that really stunk.”

READ JOEY’S STORY HERE

Cecelia "We Are Who We Are"

Cecelia "We Are Who We Are"

“My dreams for the future are to be married again. I dream of having a home again. I dream of having family again. I dream of a man who would love me for who I am. Not for what I was during my homelessness or what happened to me during my homelessness. My dream is to be happy again and as of right now I am happy. I have an awesome boyfriend and we struggle everyday to find better for each other.”

READ CECELIA’S STORY HERE

Kacy "Appreciate Everything"

Kacy "Appreciate Everything"

“I want my life to be good. I want to have a family one day. I’m twenty-five and I still have time. I need to make some progress right now. It’s about that time I need to go to college or pick up some trade. I don’t have to be rich - I just have to have enough to make it.”

READ KACY’S STORY HERE

Danny "A Lot of Love"

Danny "A Lot of Love"

“If there was something I could share with people, it would be to have a lot of love in your heart. That’s it. ‘Cause I do. There’s been people that’s stole money from me over here - I ain’t going after them with a baseball bat, you know. Like one, he was my bro, I said “Man, if you don’t want to pay me, give me a pocket knife, something.” He still just avoids me. Oh well - if a friendship is worth $50, you can have it.”

READ DANNY’S STORY HERE.

Frederick "Generous People"

Frederick "Generous People"

“For me, the hardest thing about being homeless, with my bad knees and stuff, it’s just getting around. Actually the hardest thing for me is I don’t have my emotional support dog. I just need to get another one. I need a new dog. I’m not going to take it back from the little girl that my ex-best friend gave it to. I’m just not that cold hearted. That dog, she was my baby. I changed her life, she changed mine.”

READ FREDERICK’S STORY HERE

Martha "People Are A Gift"

Martha "People Are A Gift"

“I was in the hospital with pneumonia and I would have had to go back to the shelter, but they had the respite and they recommended me for it. So I went there and I recouped there, and then they just kept me. So I’m still there. I stay overnight and watch over the other girls there. I get up and feed them, and then there’s other volunteers that come throughout the day to help them get to their appointments and different things. And then I make their lunch and dinner…”

READ MARTHA’S STORY HERE

Marcus "Remember Who You Are"

Marcus "Remember Who You Are"

“I’m a dreamer. Sometimes we get shot down. Because things can happen. There’s a lot of darkness there. But I had a sister that kept telling me to turn towards the light, and if we did that as a whole, with all of us in humanity, keep turning toward the light, that light would become so bright and engulf us and then we could all be the light to this world.”

READ MARCUS’S STORY HERE

Jacob "Treat Everybody Like Family"

Jacob "Treat Everybody Like Family"

“My advice would be to treat everybody like family. Because that’s the only way you can have a full life. Because life is about relationship. With others and with yourself. So you can keep living.”

READ JACOB’S STORY HERE

Shonna "Homelessness Doesn't Discriminate"

Shonna "Homelessness Doesn't Discriminate"

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that most of us are only one paycheck from being homeless. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate. When I became homeless, I was fleeing a domestic violence situation. That’s what made me homeless.”

SHONNA’S STORY HERE

Tony "Do Good"

Tony "Do Good"

“Advice I would give to others is just be happy with your life and try and be honest with everybody and do good. If you can help people, help them. And if they can help you, take the help because you never know.”

READ TONY’S STORY HERE

Shaun "My Blessing"

Shaun "My Blessing"

“My homelessness? It wasn’t so much my past as a way of saying, it keeps coming back. It was more of the social ideology of the community. The department of justice says “okay, you’ve done your time, we’re kicking you out”. Society says “you may have done your time, but we’re still going to punish you”. I did a year in jail. It’s really been an uphill battle since then. I have two felonies, they’re back to back - they weren’t anything violent, but it doesn’t matter. It’s really difficult for me to find stable employment, much less a place to live. They do CDC background checks and credit check…”

READ SHAUN’S STORY HERE

John "Start Living Again"

John "Start Living Again"

The hardest part of being homeless was staying warm and fed. But you just gotta keep plugging away. And take the resources offered to you. I learned this as a waiter waiting tables in my twenties - if anyone’s willing to give you something, take it. You’ll get into a place or they will find you a home, start fresh. I moved into the Salvation Army - I have a roof over my head. It’s a blessing because as soon as I get my medical issues taken care of, I can go look for a job and start living again.”

READ JOHN’S STORY HERE

MELODY "LOVE"

MELODY "LOVE"

"Yeah, I am homeless, but I am a good person and I want people to know this."

READ MELODY’S STORY HERE

KEVIN AND PETRA'S STORY "JUDGMENT"

KEVIN AND PETRA'S STORY "JUDGMENT"

"People look at us differently; it's like they think all the homeless people are bad."

WATCH KEVIN AND PETRA'S SHORT FILM HERE.

David "Hope Dealer"

David "Hope Dealer"

"…over the next fifteen years I would be homeless, in and out of jails, rehabs and the hospital multiple times. I would die more times than I can count on one hand and would lose more friends to addiction than I can count on my fingers and toes."

DAVID’S STORY HERE

Monisha "Life Will Surprise You"

Monisha "Life Will Surprise You"

“So through this journey I have found myself being homeless multiple times. Actually being disabled the way that I am makes it hard to have steady income and so sometimes situations are unattainable so there’s always that risk, and sometimes that risk becomes a reality so I’ve been homeless about three times in my life.

Even being homeless, I kept pushing forward with trying to make my life better, I was accepted into the PHd program at Saybrook University and I went for it. However even in my first semester I found myself still living homeless.”

READ MONISHA’S STORY HERE

Michael "That Light"

Michael "That Light"

“My biggest fear is not having a place to stay. I’m too old to be homeless.”

READ MICHAEL’S STORY HERE.

Katie "Moments of Greatness"

Katie "Moments of Greatness"

“I can’t tell you being homeless was a terrible experience. It wasn’t. I would never say it was great, but there were moments of greatness in it. You see, that’s the wonderful thing about children. We are resilient. No, I didn’t want to sleep in a tent. And no, I didn’t want to pick berries. But those aren’t the things that define much of that time. I was fed, I was clothed, and I was most certainly loved. You can see that love in my kindergarten picture.”

READ KATIE’S STORY HERE