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Does The American Dream Still Exist: Adam Shepard Case

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Table of contents

  1. Shepard’s point of the project:
  2. My thoughts about this project
  3. What I can do
  4. Works Cited

Shepard’s point of the project:

Does the American Dream still exists? After reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s famous Nickel and Dimed Adam Shepard was frustrated to accept the hopeless future of the working class of America. He wanted to prove that one can make something out of nothing and show that the American Dream is still achievable.

To prove that the American Dream still exist, he set a goal to get a car, live in a furnished home, and have $2,500 after one year without using any of his previous contacts and work history. All just to prove that hard work is a way out of poverty and America is a hopeful place for low-income, he decided to live as homeless. Naturally, at the end of the year, he was successful at meeting his version of the American Dream by owning a working automobile, a furnished apartment, and a total of $5,000 in cash.

Shepard takes advantage of every possible helps that he can take as no one. Throughout his book, he talks about how he was surprised to learn about services that are available for the homeless to get back on track. Shelters assigned homeless to caseworkers who helps and guides for them to restart their lives (Shepard 34). Caseworkers also supply clothing to exchange from Goodwill, towel and a bar of soap, vouchers, and a letter to give to the Department of Social Services to allow for food stamps (Shepard 34). They provide a place to stay, a place to clean, and a place to eat.

Shepard concludes that showing good attitude and setting a goal are the most critical factors to improve one’s state of life. After one of his caseworkers, Kazia, advised to him to set a goal and take initiative, Shepherd and his friend James think about a lady who was homeless, but found a way out of poverty by focusing on her goal (Shepard 90). With belief that he can also success at ending poverty, Shepard focus on finding a permanent job. Shepard first had troubles finding a permanent job because he was living in the shelter, and he wasn’t showing enough desperation to the interviewers. After his friend gave advice about showing more aggressive attitude, Shepard was able to put himself to the real world and finally able to found a permanent job (Shepard 93).

At the end, he was able to reach his goal, and proved that his version of the American Dream is possible. His dedication and sets of clear purpose with help of surroundings allowed him to achieve his goal of this project, which resultant of him, believing that America is still one of the hopeful countries for the working class.

My thoughts about this project

Although Shepard starts off with only $25 and a blank resume, he had few advantages: a good health and no debt to repay. Not everyone starts in the same place. As Sophie Jaggie, a blogger for JOIN, a support group for those who are experiencing homelessness, explains people become homeless for many different reasons: mental or medical problems, result of a catastrophic event or sudden life change (Jaggi). The chances are one is either physically or mentally not able to work or one must be paying back their debts and interests rather than saving to start a new life. Shepard was healthy enough to work, and had no debt to repay.

For Shepard, this was nothing more than a project, a project to prove that one can get out of poverty if and only if they just work harder. He didn’t had to deal with family issues while trying to get away from poverty. But in reality, people have to take care of their surroundings, goes through the stress and hardship while taking care of their financial status. “35% of all homeless persons nationwide are families with children”. Taking care of oneself is a piece of cake compared to taking care of a family of four while trying to make sure they have a roof above their head. Of course, hard work is a key to a success. But it’s not always so easy if one has to take care of more than him or herself.

Lastly, issue of attitude and working hard is an issue after one finds a place to work. Shepard was very lucky that he found a permanent job; however, finding a job is not a guarantee for every homeless. Even though one has a great personality and good attitude like Shepard do, many homeless face challenges and difficulties by the society. Many people still share opinion and prejudice toward homeless people. In chapter 4, Shepard talks about his experience with a baby-clothing-shop owner who took advantage of his work and made him feel like useless. At the end of the service time, she even checks his and his fellow homeless friends’ bags to check if they stole any of the baby clothings. Her being an example, society tends to outcasts and rejects homeless to be around. Society’s prejudice makes it very hard for the homeless to find a place to work.

What I can do

As a manager of a hospitality business, what can I do for the employees? I thought a lot about this question while reading the book. What can I do for my former or current homeless employees and what can I do for my employees in general?

One thing for sure, I want our facility to be a place where my employees truly feel like they could and wants to return every morning. I want all of my employees to feel that they are welcomed in the facility. I want to make sure that each one of them feels they are appreciated to work with. I want them to say good morning and thank you for each others. There should be no discrimination based on their race, sex, age, and financial status. No one should feel they feel useless and taken advantage by our facility.

Secondly, I would set up personal meetings with my employees. These meetings will allow employees to set their future goals and share their concerns with me. I want our facility to help individuals’ life to be better even if they choose to leave our facility at some point. We could share their current situation, such as family issues, and their future concerns. Knowing the individuals would be a crucial for me as a manager. I want to be there when one of my employees is having a hard time. If they need help with their family, I should know and help them.

Works Cited

  1. “Can Homeless People Get Jobs?” Career and Recovery Resources, Inc, 3 Apr. 2019,
  2. “Homelessness/Poverty Fact Sheet.” Family Promise, Family Promise,
  3. Jaggi, Sophie. “The Many Forms of Homelessness.” JOIN, 25 Jan. 2019,
  4. Shepard, Adam. Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream. HarperCollins, 2008. 

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