At the Heart of Hope
It would be impossible to say exactly when Brian Holscher discovered that very little separates him from the homeless men he is filming under the Broadway Bridge in Kansas City, Mo.
Perhaps it was the moment he started asking questions of the men who drag their own bedding around during the day, only to end up at the very same place they vacated at dawn, vying to claim a spot for camping out under a very noisy city bridge, on the ground, regardless of the weather.
Why are you homeless? Why can’t you get a job?
Maybe it was when the men who are used to being regarded as quitters, losers, and shiftless started answering Holscher’s questions.
“My wife had cancer and died; the medical bills wiped me out.”
“I lost my job, and haven’t been able to find one, and I lost my home, my family, and everything that was important to me.”
Regardless of when Holscher—who lives in Johnson County, was laid off from his job in 2009, has had difficulty replacing that income, and has dramatically changed a lifestyle he once took for granted—saw himself reflected in the video camera he was holding, the truth he found shocked him.
“That camera could be turned on me any second,” says Holscher, who a year ago almost had to move into his aunt’s basement temporarily, can’t afford health insurance, and struggles to provide for his two children who live with his ex-wife.
“Bridges of Hope” is a 60-minute documentary Holscher is producing about the men who call the underpinnings of an urban structure home. The inspiration for Holscher’s project is Richard Tripp, a Kansas City cab driver who once shared the same piece of real estate with those men. For the past 29 years, Tripp has given back to the homeless community through telethons and food and clothing drives under the umbrella of his 501(c) 3, Care of Poor People (COPP).
“Richard is a celebrity, a rock star in the homeless community,” says Holscher. “He gives thousands of men and women hope in their darkest hours.”
Holscher has seen how simple hope can be. “Sometimes it’s a toothbrush someone receives at one of Richard’s events where there are stations of clothing, food, and toiletries,” he says. “He doesn’t care what someone needs—he just cares that they’re at the Winter Survival Event or the Spring Break and that they need something.”
Tripp, who lives in poverty, gets items donated for his events. The cab he drives is in dire need of repair. The trunk is filled with long johns, sleeping bags, blankets, and perishables that he distributes to the homeless on the streets between fares.
“I want to give Richard and COPP a portion of the film’s proceeds,” says Holscher.
Holscher’s documentary is on hold because of financial difficulties, but he hopes to release it next spring. He’s confident it will be completed—though he’s not sure where it will screen—helping to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless and educate people that the homeless, despite common stereotypes of being drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill, are human beings.
Holscher’s message of bridging the hope is a powerful one.
“Everyone’s story is not what you think,” says Holscher, turning that camera back on himself.
To see a trailer of “The Bridges of Hope,” visit http://www.indiegogo.com/The-Bridges-of-Hope. For more information on Care of Poor People, visit www.coppinc.com.