Local man goes to great lengths for 'homeless experiment'

News 12 First at Five / Friday, Aug. 23, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A local man is going to great lengths to make you more aware of the homeless problem in the community. Larry Steverson and his family dressed like homeless people Friday afternoon and held signs asking for help along Wrightsboro Road.

It's part of an experiment to see what it's like to be homeless and to make others aware of the growing problem.

Steverson says, "Normally, I am very clean shaven. I shave my head once a week; I haven't done that in three weeks preparing to do this."

Steverson runs a successful business and has been very fortunate in his life to provide for himself and his family. But Friday was about walking in the shoes of those who haven't been as lucky.

He says, "I'm hoping to bring some awareness to Augusta that homelessness is a problem."

The money they raise will go to Family Promise of Augusta, a group that helps displaced families get back on their feet.

Sarah Macdonald, Executive director of the group, says, "We have a network of 28 churches that come together and actually house the families for one week at a time four times a year. Through that, we're able to provide them with case management, education and help them find jobs and then housing."

Macdonald says there is a growing problem in the Augusta area that you don't really hear much about.

She says, "We've really seen an influx of homeless children. Thousands of children in this area are sleeping in cars or they're tripled up with family members and staying in places that are not habitable for them."

That's why Larry brought his grandchildren and his daughter out with him, who were all a little skeptical at first.

His daughter, Heather, says, "I thought he was crazy. Dad's lost his rocker, he's crazy."

They quickly learned, it's not so easy. They were expecting a lot of people to stop and offer money, but the only person that stopped while our cameras watched from nearby, were the cops. They told Steverson, "You know you can't sit on the side of the road and hold them signs?"

The experience turned out to be a good reminder of how fortunate their family has been, and a wake up call about a hidden need in our community.

Bays says, "I couldn't imagine being in their shoes."

Steverson says, "I know there's people out there that's struggling, they can't do any better for themselves, and they need the help, and sometimes, that's all people need to get started is a little bit of help."

Click here for more information on how to help Family Promise of Augusta.

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