I spent my childhood running for cover in a volatile home and drew the line when I was fourteen. I chose Homelessness over coexisting with a violent father.
It was an awful choice, but I was intact and very glad for that. The "glad" soon wore off however. Just basic survival was a battle everyday. I nearly starved on more than one occasion and the cold of the winters tore into my very being.
I never really got away from the Homelessness until I joined the Army when I was 18 years old. I served as a Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne.
In 1983, I began my own project, a home for Homeless People. It was very small with no more than 2 guests at a time. But even then, there were a lot of issues to deal with and without the help of a team of like-minded individuals to help me, I soon became burned out.
My personal life began to falter and I took to drinking which was a major downfall for me. My life spiraled out of control and I ended up Homeless again. But still, as a Homeless Person, I continued to reach out to others like me by giving Homeless People care packages of clothing and other necessities.
I did get sober and landed on my feet in 2007. And at that time, I launched Friend to the Homeless. At first and still, its purpose is to help those who have never been homeless to connect with those who are through Homeless stories, poetry, images, video and the sharing of my personal experiences as a Homeless Person. All told, I was Homeless for 13 years.
Today, Friend to the Homeless is a venue for anyone who wants to help Homeless People with care package giving through our training, support and mentoring programs. In addition, Friend to the Homeless continues to help educate and connect those who have never been homeless with those who are.
After having been Homeless myself for so long, I felt a strong compassion for Homeless People and wanted to do something to help them. I began working with a project in Herndon Virginia. It was a home for Homeless People set up much like any typical home any family would have. And I employed people that lived there to work with me in my handyman business. My business supported the household expenses and paid the rent. I found this work with Homeless People to be extremely rewarding.
Having a desire to learn more about Homeless People, I picked up and headed for East Harlem in New York City in 1982. That experience was deep into a world I would never experience again. Life was cold there for everyone. And Homeless People could not have had it worse. I took on quite an education there about Homelessness and many of the causes.
Jacob (above) in a military aircraft, flying back to base after a parachute jump in 1980.
When I had completed my tour of duty in the military, I became a handyman and soon thereafter, I felt a strong urge to work with Homeless People.
Jacob Folger (above) relaxes with his sax in 2012.