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Alan's Challenge
Date: 12/1/2013 Album ID: 1737308
Photos by James M. Patterson
Pages: 1 2
Alan Graves has lived on the edge of homelessness since 2011. When he lost his Claremont, N.H., restaurant job in early summer, he found himself "outside" for the first time in his life.
Alan Graves, 51, has lived on the edge of homelessness with low wages from part time jobs since 2011. When he lost his job at B.J. Bricker's restaurant in early summer he found himself homeless for the first time in his life sleeping in abandoned buildings, then in camps he cut from the woods near enough to Washington Street to maintain a job search that has remained fruitless.
(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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Alan Graves visits with Sandy Wilson who allows him to have his mail sent to her house in Claremont Friday, September 6, 2013. Over the summer Alan helped her clean out a vacant apartment in her house where he used to stay with a friend. He's helped me a lot, said Wilson. It just doesn't seem to be right that all this bad stuff keeps happening to him, she said of his situation. But it's no fault of his, he didn't do any of this. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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Doing his best to keep a semblance of ordinary life, Alan Graves hangs his laundry to dry after stringing up a clothesline at a new camp in September. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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The grate of a propane camp stove glows red next to Alan Graves' bible inside his tent on a blustery cold day November 24, 2013. Unable to sleep the night before, he walked to an old camp where he had left the stove and lit its burner for brief periods to stay warm. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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In September, Alan Graves invited John Kinton who was also homeless and had recently lost his Social Security benefits to stay in his camp until Kinton could get back on his feet. After two weeks listening to Kinton's  constant stream of consciousness talking and losing patience with his unwillingness to do camp chores up to Alan's standards, arguments became frequent and he asked Kinton to move out. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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Alan Graves moved his camp five times between July and November sometimes maintain privacy and others at the request of the police. Some camps were within a tenth of a mile the last. Others, he would carry all his belongings including several tents and a mattress a half mile or more to relocate. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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Alan Graves sits by the Bobby Woodman Trail in Claremont, a jumping off point for several camps along the Sugar River on the west side of town. From left, Bret Ellis, 15, Brad Springer, 15, and Michael O'Brien, 18, pass by on the trail after swimming in early August. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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On an early September Wednesday Alan Graves holds his last eight cents until his next unemployment check of $60.00 arrives later that week. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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David Cannistraci of Sugar River Barber cuts Alan Graves' hair in late September. Today, do I look homeless? he asked. That's been bugging me. I know that there's times that I did. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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After cashing his unemployment check, Alan Graves walks past a display of tuxedos on his way back to camp with a bag of toiletries from a dollar store in September. That morning Alan splurged on a haircut to look his best at a job interview he was expecting. It was incredible, I spent all day feeling my hair, he said. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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Alan Graves shows off his fresh hair cut to k.B. Miller, a program specialist at New Hampshire Employment Services in Claremont. Alan has built a comfortable rapport with Miller and her co-workers during his twice weekly visits to the office to file his unemployment claim and check for new job postings. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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On a tip from an acquaintance who works at Market Basket, Alan went to the store to apply and be interviewed for a holiday season position. He had applied at the same store several weeks earlier and never heard back. Alan has found stiff competition for entry level jobs in a vast pool of applicants, many of whom are teenagers looking for part time work. Believe me, I've even applied at Pizza Hut, he said. But they're hiring kids. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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Alan Graves charges his phone outside a Claremont gas station in November. The phone is one of his essential possessions and consumes a large part of his unemployment income to keep it charged with minutes. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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As the weather turns cold in November, Alan Graves begins to feel ill and fatigued. He spends evenings by a fire under a canopy of tarps trying to keep the space with smoke with help from Jon Russell, 18, left, a homeless youth he is trying to help. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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Alan Graves settles down to read the Bible in his tent. Though he finds it difficult to make it to church on Sundays, Alan finds comfort in his Bible. That night, police told him he would have to look for a new place to live in the morning. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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While waiting outside the First Congregational Church in Claremont for a free meal in November, Alan Graves advises an acquaintance on staying warm. He gave the man an extra sweatshirt he was wearing and invited the man to use a spare tent he had left at an old campsite. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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In the Valley Regional Hospital Emergency Department due to coughing fits that produced blood and mucus, Alan Graves asks nurse Tami Schindler if he could change back into his own clothes, and insisted that he would not stay overnight. Alan avoids hospitals ever since a construction accident several years ago left him with a long hospital stay. He also fears for his life because he equates his symptoms with those his second wife suffered while dying of cancer. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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Alan Graves waits tensely In the Valley Regional Hospital Emergency Department to receive a CT scan of his lungs. Spots on an x-ray indicated scenarios from a contagious infection to cancer, one of his worst fears due to the suffering he watched his second wife endure in treatment for cancer and hospice. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)
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