In a quest to raise money to help build a homeless shelter in Ocean County — the only county in New Jersey not to have one — a Highlands man embarked May 14 on a 3,000 mile walking journey with his dog from Sandy Hook to Los Angeles.

32 year old Sam Green, a political science major at Brookdale Community College said he's always wanted to walk cross-country. In 2020, he hiked the Appalachian Trail and promised himself that if he finished that, he would walk across the U.S. But the pandemic put his plan on hold for a bit.

During his studies at college, Green said he came across an organization called Just Believe Inc.. Its message is about restoring hope in humanity. He said the two year old company is already helping hundreds of homeless people in Ocean County.

"They just had 36 acres of land donated to them and they're going to build a homeless veterans camp and I thought, let me try to spread the word and help raise money for them," Green said.

The camp is slated to be built in Ocean County. Green said with the recovery from COVID-19 on the horizon and once the eviction bans are lifted, he fears we will be facing a serious homeless crisis in New Jersey.

Currently, Green is just outside Columbus, Ohio, on his way to L.A. He's had some challenges along the way. The biggest one he's had so far is mountains of Pennsylvania, which slowed him down.

There was about an 80-mile stretch where Green was pushing an 80 pound cart full of gear up two or three mountains a day. These were 3000 foot climbs where as he was going up he could smell the cars' brakes starting to burn.

Green said he remembers one day where he had to climb two mountains in one day and it was 100 degrees. There was nowhere to camp, all residential, and no hotels. Green said he walked every foot of it with the dog. There's no such thing as hitching a ride 10 miles down the road.

But now that the land is flat, he's back to up to 30 mile days. From Ohio to Nevada is pretty much flat as a pancake so he's giving himself until the first week of November to reach California.

Heat has also been a big challenge along with the rain and he's even had a flat tire on the cart he's hauling.

But Green is not alone on this journey. With him is his dog, an 8-year-old pit bull-border collie mix he calls Pork Roll even though the dog's name is Taylor Ham.

Sam Green and Pork Roll/Taylor Ham on their 3,000 journey from NJ to California. Photo Credit: Sam Green
Sam Green and Pork Roll/Taylor Ham on their 3,000 journey from NJ to California. Photo Credit: Sam Green

"She's doing good. The whole cart is a dog stroller. I keep it empty just for her. It has three fans in it so whenever she gets tired, she can go in the cart. She walks about two or three miles a day and then I do all the hard work," Green laughed.

Pork Roll is into camping and loving all the attention. Green said she brings in more people for the fundraiser than Green does. He said people think he's homeless when they walk. But then they see the dog, they stop and give her so much love.

"I just had a lady pull over and give her 10 pounds of dog food and I thought, I have to carry this now," Green quipped.

In the cart are two spare tires, which came in handy when Green got the flat. Plus there's camping gear, a blanket for the dog, some food and electronics. He does not walk when it's over 95 degrees to protect him and Pork Roll and he camps out when he gets tired.

Green said he doesn't really have a plan when he gets out west but once his journey ends he plans to give his cart and all the gear in it to the first homeless person he sees.

So far, $1,660 of the $25,000 goal has been raised through the GoFundMe fundraiser set up.

Feel free to follow Sam and Pork Roll's journey. A YouTube video is posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 4 p.m. at WanderwithSam. The trek can also be followed on Instagram and TikTok.

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