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Homeless in Charleston

"Homeless in Charleston" Continued...

Issue: "New breed of homeless," Feb. 28, 2009

Q: Who was the most interesting person you met, and why?

Derrick Hale, who bought a house near the end of my time in Charleston. He was an "average blue collar worker" who was truly debunking the myths that hard work and sound financial decisions don't pay off here in America. Twenty years down the line, I'm going to look back and know how lucky I was to have experienced his influence in my own life.

Q: You went into this experience with an education and with values oriented toward working and saving. How much of your experience is applicable to those without your education and values?

On a basic level, it's very applicable, because regardless of our own respective talents or education, we wake up everyday to face our own unique situation. Some of the people that I met-uneducated and having come from an impoverished background-were exploiting their talents to the best of their ability. Others were squandering opportunity that was right in front of them. To me, the success of your own American Dream is answering the question, "Did I fight to better my life along the way?" Some are. Some aren't.

Q: Are values key, then? And what's the best way to change them?

Values are key for sure, and it is obviously true that some people have access to those values while others don't. I don't know that the values need to be changed, rather we need to keep an open dialogue that engages the spread of those values across boundaries. I have friends from my small private college that missed those values just as I met people in Charleston that were in the same situation. The values are there, and I speak in the epilogue of Scratch Beginnings on how we can help more people have access to the same values that helped make my journey a success.

Q: What story about your time in Charleston do you think you'll tell your children some day?

I'll probably give them a copy of my book on their 13th birthday along with a check for $25, the last handout they'll ever get from daddy. It's tough, though, raising children in a society that seems to place more value on lethargic, passive activities like Nintendo than sports or the arts. Expectations are so much lower today than they used to be. A strong work ethic has been replaced by rewards for merely completing homework, for example.

I was fortunate in that my parents didn't allow me to watch TV during the week and they made sure my brother and I were out discovering our surroundings rather than remaining stagnant. They placed value on being active. I hope to raise my children the same way that I was raised.

Q: Do you plan a sequel?

No. I've had a great experience with this book, but that is it. After all, so many people write one successful book, and they feel that provides an open door for them to write seven more. I'm not an author. I'm just a regular guy who was passionate about something and I decided to write about my experience.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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