On the Road

Country musician Jimmy Wayne is walking across the United States to raise awareness about homelessness. Photograph by Justin Key

For once-homeless people, returning to life on the streets can be dreadful and most do whatever they can to prevent it. But country singer Jimmy Wayne returned to the streets he used to call home to raise awareness and money for thousands of homeless youths and young adults. He began his solo walk across America at Monroe Harding in Nashville, Tennessee — his home state — and hopes to reach Home Base Youth Services in Phoenix by June. Visit Jimmy’s website to help his cause: http://www.meetmehalfway.jimmywayne.com.

When you embarked on your “Meet Me Halfway” project in January, why did you choose Phoenix as your destination?

I’ve been working with Home Base Youth Services and have been a part of their fundraising event. They are an organization that helps foster children, especially those that age-out of the system. I’ve spent time talking to young adults there and just felt it would be a good place to walk to. Ironically, it was halfway from Nashville. It seemed like everything just fell into place.

What has been your most amazing experience since you started walking?

Seeing America’s back roads versus America’s front roads. The best way I can describe it is that there’s a clothesline in the backyard and a water fountain in the front yard. What people have in their backyard is really who they are. The clothes they have hanging on the clothesline, the cars they keep in their backyard, their dogs — It all reflects who they really are. The hospitality’s been amazing, too.

What’s your most painful memory of being homeless?

When I was walking through Caddo Gap, Arkansas, I met some homeless teens and I remembered when I was a homeless kid and being so hungry. I mean hungry to the core. Your stomach feels like it’s rotting from the inside out. When you’re that hungry, you ask for food. You don’t ask for money. When I see people asking for money on the street corners, I know they aren’t really hungry. That experience has reinforced my belief that people need help.

How often have you visited Arizona, other than for your project?

Well, I filmed my first video for my song “Stay Gone” in Sedona. I’ve been there about 10 times to work when I was touring. I hiked Camelback Mountain. I love Arizona. It’s the prettiest state in America. The parts I’ve visited have the prettiest landscapes I’ve ever seen.

What was your favorite trip?

Sedona was very beautiful. I like the Scottsdale area and Butterfield’s Restaurant in particular. It was the most incredible restaurant I’ve ever been to. All of the food looks like the pictures on the menu. They don’t just show you a pretty picture. Best breakfast place I’ve ever been to. Period.

Where in Arizona haven’t you been that you’d like to visit?

I’d like to spend more time all over. I’m usually there 2 to 3 days at a time and I’m working most of the time. I don’t get a chance to enjoy being there.

— Jodi Cisman, Editorial Intern

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