My name is Paul Bowers, and I’m a student at the University of South Carolina.

I’m not sure what qualifies a person to do this sort of thing, but I have been involved in reporting the news for a few years now. I’ve written for the (Charleston, SC) Post and Courier, the (University of South Carolina) Daily Gamecock, and the (New York) Times.

Growing up in the suburbs, I didn’t see a lot of poverty. Since moving to the city, I’ve been unable to ignore it. Try this: The next time a guy asks you for money, tell him you’d like to buy him a meal. Go to a restaurant, sit down, and get to know him.  Learn his story. If you listen — and I mean really listen — it will change your life.


  1. A week isn’t long enough to experience the physical and psychological attrition of being an outsider. Soup kitchens tend to serve food that is high in carbohydrates (filling) but lacking in essential minerals and vitamins.

    Well-meaning people pathologise the poor, transferring responsibility from the powerful to the, relatively, powerless. It has to be recognised that there are objective societal and institutional barriers that homeless people have to overcome – even here in the UK, famous for the welfare state.

    Poor diet, chronic fatigue and the learned failure associated with trying to get by all affect mood and, consequently, behaviour.

    At best, you might gain enough trust to hear some first-hand accounts.

    • Paul Bowers

      You’re right. Those firsthand accounts are really going to be the most powerful thing I take away from this week, I think.

  2. Chrissy

    I stumbled upon this venture while reading HuffPo’s new college section and couldn’t believe it. I started my undergraduate education at USC. I come from the northeast, and after a year and a half in Columbia I transferred back up here. I was too disheartened by the ignorance and racism plaguing the student body.

    I am so proud to see what you’re doing. The homelessness situation in Columbia is such a massive problem, and it seems as though few students care. I have heard such awful stories of the way students would treat the homeless in five points. Thank you for giving those students a better reputation. I hope they learn from your efforts.

    Good luck, and stay brave.

  3. Lauren Patterson

    I admire what you’re doing. I think it’s great that you’re taking a risk and making yourself vulnerable to experience the lives of the homeless.

    This semester, my Communication Studies class at Clemson University (yes, we are rivals!) is partnering with the Upstate Homeless Coalition of South Carolina. We are assisting them with various tasks, whether it be promoting the coalition through social media tools or creating a documentary of the homeless.

    Keep up the good work, and check out our blog at!

  4. Kiosha G

    Awesome job! This is a fantastic job. The level of professionalism and journalistic ability is fantastic.

    Keep up the good work!

  1. 1 Yup, These are Our Friends: Paul Bowers « Michael and Kendall Enjoying Life Together

    […] is this site: Homeless in Columbia. I’ll direct you to his introduction post and the “About” section of the site to get the idea of the site in the author’s words. In my own […]

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