JERSEY SHORE – A long journey begins with just a couple of steps.
If you can forgive the Hallmark-level Zen of that opening statement, you’ll realize it’s true. Samuel Green, a Brookdale student, is undertaking a mission to raise money for a homeless shelter in Ocean County by walking across the country.
He started in Highlands and his end destination is Los Angeles. Along the way, he has some locations mapped out, for example to visit his mother. It’s easier to break a long goal like this into smaller, manageable parts. If you think of the entire trip, it would be insurmountable, but if you think of the trip as full of smaller goals and only focus on the one right in front of you, it’s achievable.
According to a very unscientific Google search, the trip is 2,822 miles. The real total will probably be higher, once you factor in taking a few bends in the road as situations arise.
Green also said that his trip is designed to go over the flattest parts of the country, not necessarily the shortest route.
He left May 14 and expects to arrive some time in September or the beginning of October. He brought supplies and a stroller for his dog, Taylor Ham.
Green, a political science student, had an assignment to write about a current event. He found an article on Patch about Toms River Councilman Terrence Turnbach sleeping outside to bring attention to the plight of the homeless. He challenged the rest of the governing body to join him.
This gave him the idea of raising money for a homeless shelter in Ocean County – the only county in New Jersey without one. He’s hooked up with Just Believe, the nonprofit that takes care of the homeless throughout the year and especially on cold nights, running an overnight shelter at Riverwood Park.
There’s also an emotional context to this. The pandemic had really brought out the worst in people and he lost some faith in humanity. When you look at the world through the very small window of social media and the TV news, you only see the worst. He was sure that getting away from the screens would open his eyes to the real America. So far, that’s been true.
“People are only crappy on the internet. There are some really good people out there,” he said.
So far, he’s been stopped by hundreds of people. “They ask if I need food, water, a yard to stay in.”
Restoring faith in humanity is Just Believe’s slogan so it was a good match, he said. His goal is to raise $25,000 for the group during his trip, with all the money going to the organization.
Spending months outside also calls attention to people without a roof over their heads, and who don’t have experience in hiking and camping.
He was interviewed for this story by phone as he was staying in a hotel outside of New Hope. A heat wave hit and he was staying inside for the worst of it. He had decided to walk 42 miles through the night instead.
He had tried to find a spot off the beaten path in Hopewell, New Jersey to sleep for the night. However, the police told him he had to move along. It was another 11 miles to get to the nearest hotel. He understands that he’s fortunate enough to have a choice and the means to stay in a hotel if needed.
“What if I was homeless and had nowhere to stay?”
This is not the first long trip he’s taken. Last year, he hiked the Appalachians. He left on February 20, 2020 when there were reports of the coronavirus in other countries but it hadn’t really hit here. By the time he emerged, people were hoarding toilet paper and Ramen noodles.
Follow his journey by searching “Wander With Sam” on social media. His fundraiser can be found at gofund.me/9b13ab5a