Homeless man sleeps tight, wherever he lays his head

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Far from the Daytona Beach they put on postcards, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman met one of the Sunshine State's brightest points of light - volunteer Brad Carter - inside a soup kitchen.

"Once you get out here and meet them and realize that they're human beings - they got a face - they got a story - they're people," Carter says. "I've got a lot of good friends out here that are on the wrong side of advantage."

Carter volunteers four hours a day and puts in another couple hours at the local mission. He publishes a street newspaper and serves on three boards that advocate for the homeless. One is a non-profit called H.O.M.E., that he started with the aim of educating people on the new face of homelessness. Carter says that nowadays, anybody you meet could be homeless.

H.O.M.E. of Daytona Beach

He has a point. Carter has been homeless for four years, spending each night,  "Wherever I can."

"I've made some bad decisions and I've ended up here," he says.

"I just want to run through the usual suspects," Hartman says. "Drugs? Alcohol? Mental problem?"

"No. No. No," Carter replies. "I just wasn't responsible when I was younger. It took me seven years to get through a two-year school - I mean, it was ridiculous."

National Coalition for the Homeless

Now 44, Carter gets his meals from the soup kitchen. He lives on the streets because unless you have a family or an addiction, there isn't any free shelter in Daytona Beach. He last worked as a baggage handler. He quit that job thinking he had a better one lined up. But the new job fell through, and with no savings, no degree and no real marketable skills, he lost everything - although he obviously found purpose.

His honesty and eloquence have earned him support from all corners of the community. On the board of his nonprofit, homeless people serve side-by-side with city leaders like former commissioner Sheila McKay-Vaughn.

"What intrigued me about it was it was the actual homeless people trying to help themselves," McKay-Vaughn says. "I'm for helping anybody who wants to help themselves."

Indeed, the day we were there, we watched Brad and a friend spend the only $10 they had to their names on printing up extra copies of a newsletter. It's like they say ... "give homeless people money, and they're just going to spend it on publishing."

If nothing else, Brad has certainly succeeded in shattering the stereotype.

"What if it leads to a job and a home for you?" Hartman asks. "What happens to the others?"

"Well, I think I'll always be an advocate for the homeless," Carter says. "I won't walk away from it."

Brad says helping others helps him sleep at night - wherever that may be.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.