Close-up of a man smiling, wearing a Valspar branded cap and white t-shirt.
"People don't understand how hard it is to be out there and how easy it is to become homeless, but it took a week of bad decisions for me to become homeless."
What follows is a lightly edited transcript

My parents retired from coal mining and got cancer right about the same time. About six months after they retired, they passed away — four months apart. Seven months later, my brother passed away from cancer, so I kind of got off-track, ended up homeless, started experimenting with drugs and drinking and was probably just mad at the world.

The biggest challenges about being homeless are safety and eating. There’s a lot of places now that have free food, but it’s still a challenge surviving, getting through each day. The winter is hard because there’s nowhere to go to get inside unless it’s below 32. I got lucky, and some friends let me sleep in their car.

Most people who are homeless want help. If I were president for a day, I would do more on the side of building shelters and getting people, like you guys [the interviewers], to deal with the advocacy part.

I’ve done construction work, and I have worked on appliances; if you can plug it in, I can fix it. I’ve done foster care, and I like working with kids. If I could help one kid, it would be like helping a thousand of them.

I can’t sing; no, but I used to wrestle and won the state championship. I like sports like fishing but not talent-talents. I mean I sing in the shower.