New River Community Action Board member, Sarah Greene, has spent years involved in raising awareness about homelessness and poverty. Her dedication to those causes—and the reasons behind her passion for advocacy—earned her a spot as one of 10 remarkable individuals featured in the forthcoming book (Extra)Ordinary: More Inspirational Stories of Everyday People.
In (Extra)Ordinary, author Keith Maginn looks for “average” people who are anything but! His focus as a writer is to spotlight the good in the world—at a time when positive messages are much-needed—so Sarah’s story stood out to him immediately.
(Extra)Ordinary will release Oct. 10 from KiCam Projects, and it can be pre-ordered now through KiCamProjects.com or on Amazon.
In this Q&A, Sarah shares more about her story and her commitment to people in need.
Sarah, how did you become so interested in the lives of the homeless and those struggling with poverty? How did your personal experiences come into play?
The way I was raised was to care for those less fortunate and to take action. When I was 17 years old, I moved from Washington, D.C., where I grew up, to Southern California, where I ended up hungry and homeless. I ate at missions, but there was a shortage of beds for women, so I ended up sleeping on the streets. This experience gave me even more compassion and understanding for those in poverty.
Can you tell us a bit about your project to chronicle the stories of the homeless during the Great Recession?
It started in 2008, after the recession crippled my wedding photography business. I wondered if other people around the country were suffering as much as I was, so I decided to take my camera, laptop and notebooks and go find out. I lived in my mini-van while traveling around the country (10 states). What I found was so much more than I expected. All kinds of stories, some heart-wrenching, yet people filled with hope. The stories, photographs and my personal diary notes will be available on Amazon.com on September 1 in the book titled Too Hungry to Be Proud: A Photographic Journal of One Thing That Changed Their Lives.
Why do you feel it’s important to tell people’s stories, both with words and visuals?
I feel gifted to be able to share these people’s stories, which I feel are still relevant today. The photographs show a different look than those we see of the people during the Depression. What I captured in my photographs are the people next door. I think both show that one thing can change any of our lives to tragedy.
How can the “average” person make a difference in the battle against poverty and homelessness?
Most people can afford to donate a few cans of food a month to a local food bank and/or donate money or time to local shelters and other organizations. This little bit of help will add up. We can all help make a difference. Someone in your life may be touched by your donation, and you’d never know it.
Why is it meaningful to you to be part of a book like (Extra)Ordinary?
I am honored to be a chapter in this exciting book. I feel very humbled and overwhelmed that my project and story are even worthy of being considered ExtraOrdinary.