Putting a face to homelessness in small town Indiana

Timothy B. Watt, also known as Harry the homeless Hippie on Facebook, is visiting every Indiana county to raise awareness for homelessness. (WLFI Photo)
Timothy B. Watt, also known as Harry the homeless Hippie on Facebook, is visiting every Indiana county to raise awareness for homelessness. (WLFI Photo)

CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — An Indiana man is traveling the state in hopes to break the stigma of homelessness by simply being homeless.

Delphi charities received $122 each because Timothy B. Watt spent a week raising the money from people living in the community.

Watt said it’s the most he has ever been able to raise in one county and he’s lived homeless in 39 counties so far. News 18 started the day with him in Delphi and traveled with him to his 40th county — Clinton County, Tuesday afternoon.

“Do you usually get up this early?” News 18’s Kayla Sullivan asked outside the church porch where Watt spent the night.

“Yes I do,” he answered.

It’s the same routine. Watt wakes up at 6 o’clock in the morning, packs all he owns in his grocery cart and finds the nearest breakfast joint. He asks for nothing, except to be seen.

“I’m not out there running away hiding because I’m ashamed. There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Watt said. “This isn’t a disease, it’s just a fact of life that happens and it can happen to anybody.”

Watt is a Veteran of the Marines and was married with four kids. But he lost his job, got divorced and spiraled into depression. He also has a history of drug and alcohol abuse.

He found God when he was with his wife but after the divorce, he was angry with him. After a long night at a homeless shelter, God came to him again.

“He just said, ‘Hey, son just calm down, I got this.’ And that’s when this plan to do this was laid on my heart,” Watt explained.

His plan is to live off donations for one week in all 92 counties. He takes what he needs to survive but gives the rest back to local communities.

“You won’t find many people with the heart to do what he’s doing,” said Sue Stern, who works the front desk at First Presbyterian Church of Delphi. That’s where Watt donated $122 dollars to two separate church charities.

Sheri Rohrer opened her home to Watt so he could shower in Delphi. It was a small token of her thanks for bringing an important message to Delphi.

“We live in a small town bubble and so we can forget, sometimes, the real face of the plight of humanity,” said Rohrer. “So, bringing it into a place like this says, ‘Hey, it’s still here.’ What do we do when we think it’s someone else’s problem?”

Delphi native Lou Hayden offered to drive Watt to his next small Hoosier community, the city of Frankfort.

“We’ve met, we’ve made a connection,” Hayden said. “I thought this was the least I could do for him.”

Watt’s hobbies include reading and writing. He’s inspired by authors like Mark Twain and C.S. Lewis. That’s how he learned to take on the persona of Harry the Homeless Hippie on Facebook.

This week, Watt hopes to touch hearts of Clinton County. He’ll be posted up outside the Clinton County Courthouse and hopes you’ll say hi.

“Lift the stigma off the homelessness,” said Watt. “We’re people just like anybody else. I’m somebody’s daddy, I’m somebody’s brother, somebody’s cousin, somebody’s nephew. You know, I am somebody.”

Watt doesn’t plan to be homeless forever. In fact, he plans to move in and propose to his girlfriend when his mission is complete.

If all goes well, Watt will have spent a week in all 92 counties by the end of October 2017.

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