An Atlanta native is walking from his hometown to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness about poverty.
Stopping in Lynchburg on Wednesday, Terence Lester is on the longest walk of his life – 648 miles, to be exact. For him, the meaning behind the walk is personal.
“I definitely know the pain of what it feels like to not have enough at the end of the day,” Lester said.
Lester said he and his family lived in poverty for a time during his childhood. That inspired him to eventually start the non-profit organization Love Beyond Walls, which helps the homeless and low-income families in Atlanta.
“I think about the children who are brought to our offices on a week-to-week basis by their parents,” Lester said. “Some children not having shoes. Some children not having their proper clothes.”
In August, Lester began his walk from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. As part of his goal to raise greater awareness about poverty, he is filming a documentary to tell the stories of the people he meets.
“The person that sticks out to me the most would probably be a single mom who came out in Charlotte,” he said. “Her closet and her three kids’ closets are in her trunk.”
“I think giving anyone a voice is important,” said Johnny Taylor, who drives a bus that travels with Lester. “I think we all should be heard.”
Taylor and Lester said they have met hundreds of people along their journey, some of whom have joined in on portions of the walk. Some offer help in other ways – one woman donated money for lunch, and a shoe store donated a new pair shoes to Lester, he said.
“I think it’s a national crisis that we need to have a conversation about to create ways and solutions on how we can address poverty,” Lester said.
Lester said he expects to reach Washington, D.C. on October 15. Once he reaches Washington, he plans to speak at a local shelter and hopes to meet with other activists to discuss poverty, he added.