Have a Great One! A Homeless Manís Story began when Ohio resident Laurie Anthony
and her husband moved from Dublin, Ohio, to New York City for one year so their then 14-year-old son could attend Professional Performing Arts High School. Laurieís husband divided his time between Dublin and Manhattan, their son was in school, and Laurie had days to herself.
Being a writer and having a large city to explore made Laurieís time alone heavenly. She spent time walking through the city, watching people and writing about what she was learning. Her personal account of the homeless situation in New York City is told in a very direct and personal manner.
As Laurie spent time in the city, she felt compelled by an unnamed feeling to try to do something to help at least one homeless person. One day she happened by Carnegie Hall and noticed a cheerful black man entertaining people with a stack of plastic cups. The cups
were piled high, one on top of the other. Their bottoms were cut out so that when someone put change in the top cup, it filtered through until it got to the bottom of a see-through bottle. Passers-by found it entertaining, and the bottle
was seldom empty.
Laurie returned to the same spot quite often and eventually she and the man, J.C., started talking. A friendship of sorts slowly bloomed, and after a while Laurie started to hear J.C.ís story.
She filled her daily journal entries with her discoveries and reactions to what she
had learned each day. A book idea formed, and J.C. agreed to the idea. After a few glitches over J.C.ís second thoughts, Laurie and J.C. started meeting weekly, and Laurie learned a lot about how J.C., a well-educated man, became homeless a few years ago and why heís comfortable living the way he does.
The experience of writing the book took Laurie and J.C. on a journey neither anticipated. J.C. learned about friendship, trusting again, second chances, and the fate of the family he left behind years ago. Laurie learned about the world of the homeless: where they can room, what benefits and help are available to them,
and how they survive on a day-to-day basis, since itís difficult to find three good meals a day and a nice soft bed in a safe place to sleep. Laurieís approach
was to investigate each issue as it presented itself in J.C.ís story. For instance, after learning about J.C.ís education and teaching background, Laurie did some online research and found articles about him that verified what he had told her. She went to libraries, shelters and found any way she could to learn all that she could about homelessness.
Laurie was always coming up with new questions, which she documented. Her daily journals are a report on what she learned
from J.C. and also how she felt about what she learned. She questioned herself and her feelings constantly. The introspective journey is an integral part of Have a Great One! Itís what makes this book stand out from other personal stories.
Have a Great One! is a fast read because of the concise prose and personal voice Laurie uses. Itís as though she is telling the story in person and not through
printed words. Laurieís journey is surprising, scary, fun, mysterious, but most of all, itís real.
The book aptly concludes with statistics, resources, web sites, books, and detailed footnotes for readers who will want to learn more about homelessness and learn what they can do to help.
Due out in the fall of 2002, Laurieís follow-up book, Real Stories, Untold Truths, contains J.C.ís story
over the two years following Have a Great One!
Laurie Anthony self-published this book and splits the proceeds evenly with J.C. Her website,
anotherwaytohelpthehomeless.com, is full of information about herself, J.C., and homelessness.