Homeless man looking to belong

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 20, 2003

Jeff Voltz was more worried about the dangers of someone stopping by the roadside to talk to a vagabond than he was of being thrown from his bike by the whizzing steady stream of traffic on Highway 231.

"These days you have to worry about someone like me," he said, with a smile. "You can't really trust people. They might hurt you - even

kill you. That's why a lot of people stay away from people like me."

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To be wary of those along life's highway is good advice, However, Voltz is not like most of those who tire of the rat race and leave it all behind to travel across the country in search of something more meaningful

Voltz is an orphan and he has been on the road since 1976 - looking and searching for a home.

He finds temporary homes - in a Samaritan's house, in a vacant building or under a bridge.

In Pike County, he lived "behind a Coke machine" for a week and "That wasn't too bad."

For Voltz, one place is as good as the last one and, hopefully, the next one will be better.

He was born in Wisconsin, but that's not his home.

"I really don't have a home," he said. "That's what I'm look for and hoping for -a place that feels like home."

Voltz's search for a place to call home has been long and fruitless -- from Canada to Florida and from the Carolinas to California.

"I don't know how many miles I've been," he said. "And, that really doesn't matter because I haven't found the place that I want to be. People don't know what it's like to be homeless. You eat what you can and sleep where you can. You just get up each day and start riding from one place to another place."

As he rides, Voltz has all the time in the world to think about his station in life.

"But, I don't think much," he said. "I just try not to get run over by all this traffic. Where are all these people going and why are they in such a hurry? I might be in a hurry, too, if I had anywhere to go."

A man with no family, no home, no place to go and nothing to think about. That's Jeff Voltz and that's what it's like to be homeless.

"It's like that,' he said.

"And sometimes it's cold and sometimes it's hot and sometimes you're hungry and wet and tired."

Voltz was pedaling along Highway 231 with no destination in mind, except maybe to get off the busy highway "before I get killed."

"It's dangerous to talk to people like me," he said again. "Be careful. You don't ever know about people going along the roads. Be careful of people like me."