Teacher encounters good and bad in homeless experiment

By Margaret Kavanagh , Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT

Criminals, threats and fear – that’s what an Orange County teacher is encountering this summer.  

Instead of taking a trip or relaxing, Thomas Rebman is spending his summer vacation living as a homeless person to gain insight into what it’s like on our streets.

Rebman has spent time helping the homeless for years, but he said nothing could have prepared him for living as a homeless person.

“Emotionally, I can’t even describe to you how horrible you feel,” Rebman said.

News 13 first introduced you to Rebman two weeks ago. He’s been living on the streets since then.

He has given plasma to make money, slept in shelters or on the streets, and finds food where he can.

Rebman said he woke up with another man’s hand in his pocket, witnessed drug deals, and has felt threatened.

“I literally had to run from three gentlemen and that happened on Orange Blossom Trail,” said Rebman.

But the hardest part is not the fear or finding food and shelter.

“The big issue is how you are treated. It amazes me the things people do and say every day,” said Rebman.

The Orange County teacher came up with this as a way to teach his students about homelessness.

It’s snowballed and now thousands of people are following him on Facebook. He wants them to have a better understanding of what it’s like to be homeless. 

“so when a stupid law gets passed, they are actually informed enough to be upset,” Rebman said.

He gives nightly updates on his Facebook page.

“I’ve met a lot of good people, now I’ve met a lot of people that are smoking K-2 or shooting heroin or any of those things too, but the stereotype that they are all that way is far from true,” said Rebman.

He hopes this effort will give insight into the community and provide to the men and women living on the streets.

He said, “I do have a life after this. I have an end. They don’t."

Thomas said he’s raising money for students to get more computers in his classrooms and raise money for the homeless.