IONA College Logo | Go to Home Page

Student Starts Blog to Fight the Stigma of Homelessness

2/25/2015
New Rochelle, NY (February 25, 2015) Sophomore Keegan Boisson-Yates is on a mission to help the homeless and share their stories.

Boisson-Yates, a native Trinidadian, started “Bread and Cheese,” a movement where he has begun to offer meals to homeless people, only asking to hear their story in return.

The name “Bread and Cheese” comes from his Trinidadian background.

“When you have little money [In Trinidad] they say you are on a ‘bread and cheese’ budget because that’s what you can afford to eat,” Boisson-Yates said.

He writes a blog where he publishes their stories online. He titles them with the person’s name and the street on which he meets them.

He has always been empathetic towards the less fortunate, he said. He realizes that he’s been lucky enough to live a comfortable life with tons of support.

Boisson-Yates noticed that, while walking on sidewalks a lot of people see homeless people and walk around them, only to buy food, eat half of it, and throw the rest away.

People don’t usually bother to give money either because many believe it’ll be wasted on drugs or alcohol.

Boisson-Yates knew that this wasn’t the case for many homeless people.
“It felt like an unfair generalization,” he said. “I started ‘Bread and Cheese’ to see if I was right, and so far I have been.”

Boisson-Yates started the project in January and intends to continue it for as long as he can.

Boisson-Yates hopes to reach his goal of getting the project noticed by local news and encourage other people to get involved with the project.

In one of his recent posts, he wrote about his conversation with an ex-marine who had come home from duty and walked into his house to find his wife cheating on him.

“He was on the sidewalk practicing algebra,” Boisson-Yates said. “He gave me advice on love and life and told me that anytime I needed someone to talk to, I could visit him at his corner.”

Boisson-Yates recalled it as one of the most eye-opening conversations he’s ever had.

In other moments, he describes offering a meal to a man at Grand Central Station who accepted the meal, but said he couldn’t talk for another twenty minutes because “it was peak money-making hours.”

“I was totally shocked, I had no idea that there was a strategy involved in this game of street survival,” Boisson-Yates said.

After this encounter, he made his way to Dunkin’ Donuts to find John, a musician from Pennsylvania who was is married and has a dog. John described moving to New York City. Both John and his wife lost their jobs and have nowhere to go.

“There are people out here trying to just get money so they could buy drugs and alcohol actually, I know a few,” John said. “But some of us, like myself and my wife, were just unlucky and got caught up in the wrong situations.”

John saves the money he does get to feed his family and clean himself up so that he can go job hunting.

On Boisson-Yates’ blog, there are more excerpts from conversations he’s had with homeless people along with original photos. He also posts his own poems and entries about music, family and entertainment.

The blogger believes that the so-called homeless problem and the negative stigma it carries doesn’t have to exist.

“I would like to go into the city with a bunch of people and run wild and make a bunch of hungry people’s days,” he said.

He wants to see other people doing the same thing more often and realizes how much he used to take for granted for the past years.

“Helping others like this helps me appreciate the things I have,” said Boisson-Yates. “Love and appreciation are two things that go a long way and I believe that I can help this generation change the world. The trick is convincing people!”


Permalink: Student Starts Blog to Fight the Stigma of Homelessness