The Law Student Who Walked Hundreds of Miles for the Homeless

27 minute read


Summary: This past summer, college graduate Gordon Wayne finished a walking journey that spanned over 500 miles from central Virginia to Athens, Georgia. The purpose was two-fold: to get to his law school, while raising funds for and awareness about homelessness. If this sounds familiar -- that's because he did it once before -- in 2020, for the same reasons, he walked 551 miles to Boston College, walking 30-40 miles a day and raising 100 thousand dollars for the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Along the way, strangers offered food and supplies, and even paid for hotel rooms. "I was just so inspired by all this kindness," Gordon recalled. "I knew I had to give everything I had, including financially. So I ended up either donating or using all of my money on that trip, and I showed up to college with 3 dollars. That was actually when I was at my lowest, but I knew I would always see that as support." His efforts for the homeless is one that hits close to home. As a teenager, Gordon was homeless -- living out of his car and working 10-hour shifts at a local amusement park while applying to college. In August 2023, KarunaNews volunteers chatted with the now first-year law student about his remarkable journey, and gleaned the inspiring spirit behind his remarkable efforts. 

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In 2020, we learned about Gordon Wayne. At that time, he was a rising college student who had spent teenage years homeless. That summer, he walked over 500 miles to the college that gave him a full scholarship. The purpose was two-fold: to get to school while raising funds for and awareness about homelessness.

In Spring 2023, he graduated college and was welcomed to law school. Naturally, he walked to his new university in the spirit of supporting the homeless in the weeks leading up to the start of classes. 

Last month, KarunaNews volunteers chatted with Gordon about his journey, insights, inspirations and experiences. We were blown away by his generosity of spirit, resilience, and optimism for humanity. Below's a lightly edited transcript of the conversation.


Could you share a little bit about your childhood? Where did you grow up? What was your family and the community around you like?

Yeah, so I grew up in Caroline County, Virginia, which is a rural area between Fredericksburg, Virginia. So, growing up, my parents were married for a while. So, I had a pretty decent childhood. I also had a twin sister. And we pushed each other to do well in school and be active in the community, volunteering. We volunteered at our church a good amount. She danced, and I was involved in football and different sports like soccer. 

But then in high school, everything really changed because my dad essentially ran away. And it caused our family to slowly fracture, and, it is hard to talk about, but basically, like my mom, she was a stay-at-home mom for most of our childhood. She worked as a substitute teacher sometimes, but she was blindsided by him just abandoning us like that, so she tried to get some employment, but to varying degrees of success. Like, she worked at Old Navy and different department stores, but it wasn't really enough to support us. Fortunately, my dad did pay some child support. But that went away once we graduated high school, the only high school in our county, by the way, just to give you a sense of how small our hometown was.

So once that happened, she didn't have the money to support us anymore. So, essentially, we all went our separate ways. Like, I love my mom dearly, but she just, she was not in the best relationship at the time. But fortunately, she was able to stay because of that. And then my sister stayed with her boyfriend at the time. But for me, I didn't really have anywhere to go. I stayed at my friend's house for a few nights, but I didn't have anything permanent lined up. So, I purchased a car with all the money I had. It was a car that hadn't even passed inspection. I had to wait two weeks to purchase insurance because I only had six dollars left in my bank account after I bought it.

It was the cheapest car I could find. It was a 2002 Honda Civic. And that's where I started living. I had a job at the local amusement park, which was called King's Dominion. So, I tried to work as much as I possibly could to distract myself from the trauma I was experiencing and to try not to have too many negative thoughts, just to, just to get away from that. And also to try to have some money, obviously, because I was completely broke and not to get creative with how I met my basic needs. 

So, for showers and water, I went to the local YMCA, and I used my high school ID to get in, it was obviously expired, but fortunately, they still let me in. And then, for food, this is a crazy story, but at McDonald's, when you get a receipt, there's a, like, there's a little note at the top that says, like, complete this survey, and then "buy one and get one free". But then, like, just like a week or two before everything collapsed, I went to the McDonald's, I gave them a receipt, but then instead of giving me two burgers, which is what I've been expecting, they only gave me one bag. I was about to go and complain, then I looked at my receipt, and I realized that they only charged me for the fries, which meant they just gave me the burger for free. So instead of "buy one get one free", it was just "get one free."

So, I took note of that, and essentially I just started stockpiling receipts in my wallet. Like, I would go in the trash can sometimes and grab some receipts. And that's how I ate, it was every meal I had for a month, and then I was able to do that for six months until they realized what was happening, I guess.

But I relied on that to eat and then I slowly started to build up some money. It took me a month to finally have more than six dollars. Like, I remember I just had six dollars for a whole month. But then I realized that what I was doing wasn't very sustainable and that I needed to advance myself somehow. So I decided I needed to go to community college. So after like two months straight of working those 60-hour weeks, I kind of took a week off and I was just trying to figure out how I could enroll in community college, which was pretty difficult, to be honest. Like, I had countless meetings with different advisors, but it was looking like I was going to need to take out quite a bit in student loans, which I wasn't very comfortable with doing, but I was willing to try to advance myself out of the situation I was in. But I remember there was this one day I had like four or five meetings. And the last meeting I went to was with this man named Jordan Hewitt, and he just looked at me and could tell something was wrong. Back then, I wasn't really comfortable explaining my situation to people. Like, I wasn't very outgoing with that information. 

That makes sense. 

Yeah, because, like, honestly, it felt like I wasn't human anymore, and it felt like I didn't matter to anyone. It's just the worst feeling in the world, like, to be ignored, like I said earlier. But, like, now I realize how important it is for me to talk about it and try to get people aware of what others are experiencing. But back then, like, when I was just still in it, like, I needed someone to ask me what was wrong. And, like, he just looked at me, and he could tell something was off. He could see the torture in my eyes, I guess. So he started asking me some questions, and I was honest with him, of course. And, like, he showed me so much compassion, and he told me that we were going to find a way to get me to community college. And essentially, he helped me learn how to become an independent student, because I was at the time, I was obviously supporting myself.

So that enabled me to go to community college for free, which was awesome. But I knew that I couldn't go to community college for two years while I was living out of my car, because it was rough, to say the least. And I didn't want to go through two winters of that. Well, I did go through two summers of that. So I asked him to help me take over the maximum amount of credits so I could graduate in only one year. And he helped me write an appeal to do that, and it was accepted. So I began taking 21 credit hours a semester. And then, I was fired from my job while trying to sort all of this out, which was pretty annoying, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise because I got a job as a pizza delivery driver, which was awesome. However, the base pay was only five dollars an hour. 

It wasn't the best, but I got some good tips which helped me out a lot. And once I began classes, I just started working all the time. My mental health was finally starting to improve because I could see I was progressing a little bit. Like before, it just seemed like I was spinning my tires in the mud, and I wasn't going anywhere. But now I could see, like, if I could succeed here in community college, then I might have some nice opportunities open up. Although I wasn't exactly sure how it was going to happen, I just knew I had to do my best at the moment and then see what could happen. So, when I wasn't in class, I was in the library studying. When I wasn't in the library, I was working delivering pizza. 

So at that time, I wasn't really able to sleep very much. I was sleeping maybe like three hours a night on average because it's not very comfortable in the car. And I was actually using a lunchbox as my pillow. And I would always like overheat or get too cold. So, it wasn't very comfortable, but I was just so focused at that time. I always use that time to remind myself that, like, whatever I'm going through now is nothing compared to that, and I was fortunate to at least have some sort of shelter, like, I could have been literally on the street, and I was also very fortunate to be able to transport to work, to class, to the YMCA for showers, to McDonald's for food.

But I didn't feel very blessed at the time, especially to be able to continue my education as well, which seemed like I wasn't going to be able to. But, actually, the work ended up paying off. I ended up getting all A's in both semesters, so I have 4. 0 GPA. I had a lot of wonderful professors who just really cared a lot. And I would highly recommend community college, by the way, Joana, in case you're looking to continue your education because the people there really care about their students. More so than universities, who are more likely to see you as just a number or a tuition bill. But they really cared about me and helped me understand the information, and I still have great relationships with many of those professors.

Was it a much smaller school? 

Yeah. They didn't have any dorms or any housing for me, which was unfortunate, but in every other capacity, they had this incredible food pantry for me, so I didn't only have to eat at McDonald's anymore, which was starting to get a little old, I'm not gonna lie.

Yeah, and it's not as nutritious.

No, not at all. But yeah, I was able to get some fresh food, like some apples, for example. And I remember there was this one night, it was like February or March. It was near the onset of the pandemic as well, and like I was in my car, it was late at night, I couldn't sleep, and so I was doing research because I was like, where am I going to go to school next? Like initially, I was hoping to go to Virginia Tech, but I found out that it would cost me 20,000 a year, which I obviously didn't have, and I also didn't have anyone to co-sign my loan, so it wasn't really an option. 

So, it was looking like, once again, I wasn't going to have anywhere to advance myself. However I did some research, and I found a list of schools that meet fully demonstrated financial needs. And I was like, okay, I need to apply to some of these schools, but they're like some of the most elite schools in the nation. Like, you have like Harvard and Yale on there, it's basically the schools with the largest endowment who are able to provide that for the students in greatest need. And I saw Boston College on the list, and something just seemed right about it. So I applied there as well, and they were the only school on the list I got accepted to. I found out in June, and I was just so overjoyed because I knew I was finally going to have a stable shelter. I was going to have fresh food to eat at the dining hall, and I knew that I only had two more months left in the car, and that feeling lasted for a little bit like a few minutes maybe, but then I started thinking about all the people who were gonna be in the same situation I was still in and who might not have had someone like Jordan to believe in them, or like you, because one thing I really realized is that every opportunity we have in this world is provided to us by someone else and even though to some extent I felt like I did all that on my own, I knew that I really didn't, like, without so many of the wonderful people I met who believed in me, I still would have been at square one. I still would have been at the amusement park or just delivering pizza. 

So I just thought about all the people who didn't have those opportunities and who were still going to feel like their souls had been ripped from them and that they didn't matter. And I got pretty sad about that. But I knew I had to do something like not for them, but to like, I had to do something to get people to care about them. And that was difficult because, by this point, I had a few thousand saved up, which meant that was the most money I had ever had. I think I had 6, 000 and I was really proud about that because I went from 6 to 6, 000. But like that's not really enough to change someone's life. So I didn't feel like I had any power. I was just thinking for months about this, like, what can I do? And then, one day in late July, I had the idea to walk from my hometown to Boston. And the idea connected together so quickly. Like I could do a fundraiser, and I can promote it on social media.

So I did some research, and I found the organization that I wanted to benefit, which was the National Alliance Against Homelessness, who I had no previous connection with, but I looked into some of their work, and they seemed real, and they seemed like they would do good with the money. Then I started planning out the journey to the best of my ability, which was very poor. I do not know what I was getting myself into whatsoever, I thought I could walk an average of 50 miles a day. That was a big mistake, to say the least. Since then, I've learned I could walk like three miles an hour with the backpack on me because, obviously, I need to carry my belongings. So that means, let me do some quick math. That'd be like 17 or 18 hours straight of walking with no breaks. So it's possible maybe for one day, but then you're going to get to be like four hours of sleep and then have to be right back at it the next day. So I had to, I had to essentially. Also, I didn't have good shoes, I didn't get myself insoles, which was a huge mistake.

After the first day, my feet were already dead, and I still had over 500 miles left. So, that was not the best feeling, to say the least. But, like, on that journey, I had also followed a bunch of Boston College students, like, beforehand, so I could try to get the word out. I also remember that the second night was the most difficult night because another thing I didn't know was that you have to be 21 in most places to get a hotel or a motel, and I was only 20 at the time. I was turning 21 later that year. So on the second night, I basically got turned away from every hotel or motel, so I just tried to sleep on the sidewalk, it didn't really work, I just kept walking throughout the night. Also, I just remembered that I got so much support from my future classmates, just people who were following along, some people from back home as well, in Carolina. And, like, I realized pretty quickly on that, even though my feet were completely blistered, and my back was aching like, my back was probably about 30 or 40 pounds, according to this one police officer who I accidentally put in the driving directions on my phone, so I ended up on the interstate.

Oh, that's dangerous!

So yeah, he left my bag. He was like, this feels like 30 or 40 pounds. So between those two factors, and then just how far away I was, like one thing I really learned is to only focus on one day at a time, and even more so one step at a time, because if I thought like two weeks ahead like it would just… Like, how monumental the task was would just crush me. 

So, between all three of those factors, I was always thinking about quitting, for sure, basically with every step. But I realized that it would be even harder to quit than to continue because of all the people who were supporting me and, even more importantly, all the people who would benefit from me completing the journey. Obviously, we would raise more money and spread more awareness by completing the mission. I just couldn't let everyone down. So, I walked at a pace of 36 miles a day, and it was 551 miles total, and we made it after 16 days. 

Did you sleep mostly on the sidewalk, since you couldn't sleep in motels?

Oh, that's a good question. So I got good at explaining what I was doing to people. Like, initially, I didn't really talk about it. But then also there was this one…Well, yeah, let me tell you a few different stories. So there's this one night in Maryland. It was my first time going 45 miles in a day, which was 15 hours straight. And I remember that it was pouring and I was exhausted and I still had at least three hours left. I remember just screaming up at the sky, like, just begging for mercy, basically. And then, like, 30 minutes later, this car comes up to me and pulls over on the side of the road, and it's this middle-aged couple who, apparently, they had seen me, like, six hours earlier on their way to go on a date. So they stopped and asked me if I wanted a ride, but I told them no. I explained to them what I was doing. And they went and got me some McDonald's, ironically, and then they bought me a hotel room, which was very sweet of them, and they actually contacted the local news, which, was my first news coverage ever, it was in York, Pennsylvania. And then the World News actually saw that and reached out to me. And I'm pretty sure that's what you all saw back in 2020 when you all shared our journey for the first time. So without them, this would all look very different right now, for sure. And I still keep in touch with them, they're awesome people. 

There was this other BC dad who paid for a few hotels on the way, and I was just so inspired by all this kindness. Like, I knew I had to give everything I had, and I included financially, so I ended up either donating or using all of my money on that trip, so I showed up to BC with 3 dollars. That was actually when I was at my lowest, but I knew I would always see that as support. 

But you had so many other forms of wealth, like all the encouragement of people, and the community that formed around your efforts.

Exactly, I felt like I didn't need material possessions anymore because of all the support I received. 


Like the fundraiser raised way more than I could have ever hoped for. I was just hoping to make about two or three thousand on it, which would have still been a lot to me. But then, when I showed up to BC, we had like 25,000 raised, which was incredible. And once the world news covered it really went berserk. It went up to, like, we closed the fundraiser at 180,000, and we were able to spread that money to a few incredible organizations who I worked with up in Boston and also one organization that helped me when I was homeless back in Fredericksburg, Virginia. 

When you're coming from a place of not having a lot materially, people would often think, 'I want to accumulate materially since I haven't had it.' But you're saying, 'I want to share it. I want everyone else to be able to have it.' And the fact that you were at your lowest, financially, after your walk because you gave it all away, that's kind of incredible.

Well, thank you! I mean, I couldn't see myself doing anything else. Honestly, I just felt so, so loved. Like, that was what I'd been longing for those whole 14 months, just that support and people caring. I don't know what I really expected to happen from the journey, but I didn't expect that, I didn't expect so much support, so much care. And what I really learned during this past journey is that, above anything else, that's exactly what our homeless population needs right now, which is love and compassion. And for them to see, that they are human and that they can accomplish anything, they can do far more than what I've done, I believe.

Another thing that I realized is that for us all to reach our full potential, everyone else has to as well because we all feed off each other, we all build off of each other. And as long as we have people out there who are struggling and who just don't have the opportunity to be the best version of themselves because we really can't when we don't have shelter and food, like, that's all you can really think about. And so, as long as that's the case in our country, we're never going to be the best country we can be. And, you know, America was founded on some incredible promises, but the truth is we've never come close to living up to them. And I know we can, and I just wanted to see that happen more than anything. But yeah, I don't know if I got off track on the question or not. 

Now you're starting law school this month. What inspired you to do the other walk that you did from Virginia to your law school campus in Georgia?

Yeah, so after seeing that incredible impact we made, I would say we because I didn't do that by myself, and it was other people who really elevated the meaning of what I was doing. So, I always appreciate that. And after seeing that, there was no way, like, I couldn't imagine myself flying to Georgia or just taking a train to Georgia. I knew I had to do it again, because the issue has only gotten worse since the last time, since 2020 when I did it, obviously because of pandemic evictions and, you know, COVID-19. Housing prices are still rising, the affordable housing supply is still decreasing, and everything is still getting worse. Even though my belief has never been higher that we'll end homelessness, we've never been further away. So, I had to do it again, like, there's no other option, and I knew that pretty early on. Like I knew that when I was applying to law school, but it's the reason why I'm going to law school is because I want to make a practical impact. I want to be able to use my skills every day to work towards ending homelessness, which I, of course, know that I won't end homelessness on my own, and it has to be all of us with each other to do such an enormous task. But yeah, like there was no way I wasn't going to do it, and I was able to plan much better this time.

So I was much, much healthier on this journey, and it was because of the prior experience. I was also able to advocate much better, I think because we made a YouTube series. So, well, first of all, like, the first time I didn't even work with, like, even though it was for the Nationalized Student Homelessness, I had no communication with them. But I had an internship with them the summer afterward, and this time, I reached out to them to see if we could work together to elevate the meaning of the cause even higher than last time. So we worked together to make a YouTube series to, first of all, bring people along on the walk with me, which they already weren't, but for them to be able to experience it along with me. And secondly, to educate people on the problem of homelessness, like the nature of the problem and also what it's like to be homeless, to try to elevate people's level of empathy. And lastly, to educate people about the solutions in how we're currently working towards ending homelessness.

Also, one of the things I'm most happy about from this journey is the playlist we made, which I definitely could not have done on my own. I don't have any video editing skills or the time to do that on my journey. I hardly had enough time to do what I needed to do on the journey. But yeah, this time, I gave myself more time to complete the journey, which helped out a lot. I took better care of my feet, although there were a few days where I didn't pay enough attention to detail and I paid for it. Like, there was this one day when I walked 38 miles, I was still in Virginia at the time, too, and it was like the sixth day, maybe. I hardly wrapped my feet up, and halfway through, I felt a blister pop, it was a searing pain, and I was limping for the last half of the day. My feet never really recovered from that day, but after that, it was a good wake-up call to spend like 20 minutes wrapping my feet up and taking care of all my blisters. 

It's really hard to walk that much. It sounds nice, you know like we can over-romanticize walking across the country or walking across different states but actually in the moment do it day to day, the pain, the blisters, the sweat, the rain, the elements, the safety -- so many, things come up.

Yeah, that's another thing I haven't really touched on, like, this whole time, cars are going right next to me, and it just takes one person not to be paying attention, or, you know, maybe their tire goes flat at the wrong time, and then I'm hit, and I'm gone. I think it's because of everyone who was with me on the journey and praying for me. I mean, God's always with us, so he was definitely with me on the journey, and I was just very fortunate not to get hit. Another thing you might overlook is that it can be a little boring, like just doing the same thing constantly. It is a great time to reflect, to think, and to sort of meditate, but it can be kind of fatiguing just, you know, being on the road the whole day and like, you can see like a mile ahead, but it's going to take you 20 minutes to get there, and then everyone's going past you, and lots of people are just like, giving you strange looks. People honking at you just kind of frightened a little bit. They just didn't understand what I was doing or what we were doing. But once again, I couldn't let any of that phase me because I knew how important it was for me to complete the mission. This time, it was not as challenging. I mean, that first time was so incredibly challenging.

I still don't know how I did that, to be honest. I know it's because it wasn't just me, and the same can be said about this one as well. We went 570 miles in 21 days, 27 miles average. And yeah, I wouldn't have made it out of Virginia without everyone who was with me, but I knew I couldn't quit. And I knew I was much better prepared. I had a message to share with the world everyone needs to hear, which is that we need to care for and love our homeless family, and because of how much I love them, quitting was never an option. Not even close.

Looking back at your journey so far, is there something you wish you had known when you first started?

Well, first of all, I wish I prepared better. That's a really good question; no one has ever asked me that before. I'm gonna have to think on that one for a second. I mean, I feel like I didn't understand how important what I was doing was, so I would just tell myself that no matter what, never to quit, and that this is something much bigger than just me, and that the impact this could have is generational. For families I might never meet, but families who matter just as much as I do and who can accomplish anything. Like, the world needs their contribution to society. So, I would just emphasize how important it was and that I could do it not because of me but because of everyone with me, because of God, and just never to give up hope.

Did you always have faith in God, like a religious background? Did you grow up with that? 

Yeah, I did. 

Or did it come more from experience, from life experience?

Well, I went to church growing up sporadically -- not every Sunday. But I leaned on my faith when I was homeless, which I think kept me around. Another thing that kept me around was my dreams, which I had, like, I'd really thought about a lot during my senior year of high school, so my goals were my dreams. I have three dreams, which are to make as significant a positive impact as I can possibly make on the world, to create a loving family, which is really personal because I obviously saw my family collapse, and I'll never let that happen again; and I also want to see my mom happy one day, so I'm going to have to make that happen. She might be really old by the time that can happen, but better late than never. And then lastly, this one's impossible, but it doesn't mean I can't strive for it, which is to deserve to go to heaven. So yeah, like, I remember praying in the car a lot, and helped me to realize that, I was definitely suicidal at the time, but it helped me to realize that, like, I still had something left to give to the world and that I'd be doing my fellow humans a disservice if I didn't at least try. If I just gave up before I even had a chance. So, yeah, there's no way I'll ever give up faith.

You bring up an incredible point that mental health has been a huge issue, especially in recent years with the pandemic, but amongst homeless people, right? They're isolated. They don't have food or shelter. They don't have their basic needs. They don't feel human. 

Yeah. And they don't feel like people.

How has your experience been in meeting other homeless people, and how have you seen mental health issues amongst the homeless?

Yeah, so when I was homeless, I didn't really meet. Well, so one thing is that you don't really always know if someone is homeless, right? But I didn't meet anyone who I, or at least I don't remember meeting anyone I knew was homeless because I was just in my car and would try to park somewhere where no one else was. I mean, that was a struggle sometimes, but I definitely have met and spoken with a lot of homeless people since then, like in Boston, for example, when I worked with family aid, and I encountered some homeless people on my journey here, which there's a large homeless population in Athens, by the way, which I look forward to working with them in law school, which that'll help remind me why I'm in law school, and not to quit even though it's going to be very difficult, which sounds very familiar. But this is something I think any of us can go and do, like, the best thing we can do for those who are homeless is to just talk to them, and to be their friend, to ask what their ambitions are, to ask what their dreams are, to ask what they need. Obviously, it's not about just giving them money and walking away, or any, like, it's nice to give them food or water, but I think that is just as important to be their friend and see them as a person. So that's what I always try to do whenever I see someone homeless or whenever I get to serve someone homeless. That's what I really focus on doing!

You could have just given up, or spiral into negative habits as an escape from the physical pain. It's very inspiring to hear how you "just try to keep positive thoughts". What gave you that strength and resilience to work so hard to get into a different situation?

Well, so I will just say one thing about what you said. I don't think anyone who's homeless wants, like, even though they may get in, well, a lot of the homeless population does get into drugs, but I don't think anyone really wants that. I just think they don't see any other alternatives. But I think we all want to better ourselves and to get out of the situation.

For me, there was about a month when I was just in the dumps like I worked, and my coworkers would make light of my situation a lot, and I would make jokes about it too, to try to own it, like I would tell them that my house was faster than theirs, for example, but in reality, I was hurting a lot. But what really kept me going was what I said earlier, which is that I knew I had something to give. And at that time, I didn't exactly realize why I was going through that. I remember I would ask God, like, why do I deserve this? But really, that's what I should be asking now. Like, why do I deserve all these opportunities more than anyone else who's homeless? And I don't, to be frank. 

So, what kept me going was that I knew I had something to give. I didn't know what it was, but I wasn't going to go down without trying as hard as I could. And I've been very lucky, like, even though I worked very hard, everything had to go perfectly for me to be in this position right now. And I just want to help create that look for other people who need it!

Yeah, a lot of us forget that, even if we're not homeless. 

Yeah, every one of us. Every one of us has a unique contribution that no one else can give but us. And for our world to be as perfect as it can be, everyone has to give that. 

Yeah, that's beautiful. Are you in touch with your sister or mom now?

Yeah, I'm definitely in touch with both of them, not at all with my dad, and won't be for a long time. My relationship with my mom has improved a good amount. There was a lot of trauma there, but I've forgiven her. She deserves to be forgiven. And it wasn't really in her control because of my dad's actions. But yeah, I'm in much better touch with her now. And then my sister, like, I remember, we used to fight a lot as kids, but I remember she was there for me when I first became homeless, so ever since then, I forgave her, and she forgave me a few years later. She recently moved out to Seattle, so she's kind of close to you.

Yeah, but that's pretty far from you. 

Yeah, that's for sure. So yeah, I'm worried I'm not gonna see her much in the near future, but I definitely love her a lot. She's going through a lot of mental health issues herself, but I know she's going to come through on the other side stronger. And I just want to be there for her as much as I can.

Sometimes when we're talking to you, it feels like we're not talking to like a 20-something-year-old. You have so much wisdom in your heart.

Thank you, thank you so much! I feel just as fortunate to be talking to you all. 

It's so inspiring for us. What advice would you give to others who are inspired by a story and want to make a difference in their community?

First of all, you don't have to walk hundreds of miles to make a difference. I want that to be clear to everyone. Like I said earlier, each of us has our own skill or something that we intuitively understand that we can provide. So I'd advise anyone just to do soul searching to think about what you're good at because everyone's good at something. I promise that everyone is uniquely talented, which really makes us all the same if you think about it, but we all have a specific unique talent. And think about the issues that matter to you. And most importantly, become a part of something that's bigger than yourself because that's the only time you can, first of all, become the best version of yourself. And then, secondly, to provide your biggest contribution. Like, none of us can do it alone. What one of us can do alone, with all of our skills and abilities, if you put a team of people together, they can do it easily. So I think that's the advice I would give.

Love it! Have you ever heard of a murmuration of starlings?

I don't think so, no.

There are these birds called starlings, and the way they fly in the air, they do these murmurations. So it's like hundreds, thousands of these tiny starlings, and they will spontaneously fly in like a constantly moving formation. And the way they do it, and it becomes this gorgeous kind of like movement in the air. And it's like a big mass from a distance -- it looks like this big cloud moving. And then, if you get up close, you see it's just a ton of tiny birds. And the way they do it is they keep in sync with the seven closest birds to them. So, from that little tiny spot, they form it kind of ripples, and they form this beautiful formation of, moving together. But you reminded me of that, of like, we all have kind of our own unique place, and then together, it can form a really powerful pattern.

Yeah, exactly, because if it's just one bird, like, we wouldn't even be able to see it, you know?

Exactly. We're all part of something much greater.

Yeah, and we can learn so much from each other. It's incredible. And that can help us avoid mistakes in life. It can help us take better paths. There's nothing better in this world than humanity. And when we decide to show it to each other, it's incredible. And that's what it's going to take to end homelessness, for all of us to show each other humanity, to show each other love and compassion. That's what we need more than anything, along with increased housing supply. We need that too!

Thank you so much.

Thank you! I really appreciate y'all's time today.

More footage from Gordon's July 2023 walk can be found on this playlist. And much gratitude to Joana Pamponet for her efforts in this conversation and transcript!

Originally posted on ServiceSpace blog

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