Gordon Wayne wants to see homelessness ended during his lifetime, and is doing what it takes to make that dream a reality.
Gordon is a 19-year-old sophomore now entering his second week at Boston College. Just a year ago, though, Gordon found himself living in his car near his hometown in Virginia, with just six dollars to his name. During this time, in what he describes as rock bottom, Gordon worked 10-to-12 hour shifts at a local amusement park during the day, and spent his nights alternating between sleeping and studying in his car.
Gordon was one of about 5,700 people experiencing homelessness in the state of Virginia.
His firsthand experiences of the realities of homelessness inspired him to fight for change. On August 12th, Gordon created a GoFundMe campaign titled “Assisting People Climbing out of Homelessness”, with the goal of raising money and awareness for ending homelessness.
After a year of living, and studying, from his car, Gordon applied to Boston College, where he was one of only eight percent of transfer applicants who were accepted. Scanning a map of the route from his hometown to Boston, Gordon was struck by the idea of making the trek to college on foot, and couldn’t shake the feeling. He knew this was his chance to make a powerful move toward ending homelessness.
The 550-mile journey from Virginia to Boston took Gordon about 16 days on foot, walking for roughly 13 hours each day. A number of hurdles presented themselves along the way, from swerving cars and high fences to antagonizing drivers and blistering feet. But as he saw the numbers on his GoFundMe continue to rise, and read one encouraging message after another from those who had heard of his endeavor, he knew he could not give up: “I had too many people counting on me.”
Thinking of the more than 567,000 people still experiencing homelessness nationwide, Gordon soldiered on, documenting his journey via his Instagram page. Though Gordon has found it difficult to respond to the overwhelming support his journey has earned him, he says “The support and attention this cause has received has been beautiful and shows what people can do when they get behind a movement. Almost everyone has been overwhelmingly positive, and it has truly warmed my heart.”
Much has changed for Gordon in the last year. He has been welcomed by the Boston College community warmly and with open arms, and looks forward to “attaining high grades and trying to make this already great university even better.”
For Gordon, giving back to those most in need has been a hugely rewarding part of his experience, and has marked a major milestone in his life.
Sharing his hopes for the future, Gordon says he plans to spend his time outside of classes working to end homelessness in the greater Boston area.
“I hope people who see my story give the homeless a second thought, and hopefully find it in their heart to be kind to them. I want to see homelessness completely fade away in America, and I will keep finding ways to bring attention to it until the problem is extinguished.”