My name is John Scott-Jones, and I am a sophomore from the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. I spent this past summer working with a documentary filmmaker at Appalshop in Kentucky He taught me how powerful it can be to let someone tell their own story in their own voice. I stumble across Alex and Elena’s class, and once I saw the type of pieces they were encouraging I knew this was the right place for me. Working on this project has given me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Willie. But I’ve also spent time getting to know other men who are still without a home, and through my experiences have started to realize some of the complexity of these issues.
Working with Willie and the men at Phoenix House taught me a lot about strength of character. They have all been through some really hard times in their lives, but fighting addiction sounds like one of the hardest. I am inspired by their individual strength of character, and by the support that they offer one another to grow into the people that they want to be. There is no way I could tell you everything about Willie in seven minutes, but I hope this piece shows that there is a story behind the face of every anonymous homeless person we meet, that these are real people worthy of our focused attention.