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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed author Sherman Haggerty about his career, what inspires him, and the work that went into his new book; Hope Disappearing.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

My name is Sherman Haggerty. I have a masters in management from the Claremont Graduate School in Southern California.  I spent 30 years as an executive in the residential development and homebuilding business. During that time, I also spent 8 years on the Board of Directors of Volunteers of America (VOA) in Northern California. VOA is a national non-profit social service agency. 

Sherman Haggerty, author of Hope Disappearing, interview on The Table Read
Sherman Haggerty

I stepped down from the board in January of 2014 to become an employee of VOA as the director at a homeless transitional housing program focusing on rehabilitation, employment and housing for singles and family experiencing homelessness. The program was referred to as Mather Community Campus.  I stayed in that position until January of 2020.

When did you first WANT to write a book

I originally started writing my own personal “memoirs” about my experience as the director at Mather because that experience was so unique to everything else I had done, up to that point.  So much had changed in homeless services (nationally, state wide and locally) that I didn’t agree with I started doing research to try and understand what had actually occurred.  In the meantime, the homeless population was growing at an alarming rate.  At some point, my frustration with what I was witnessing and the root causes that I uncovered,  grew to the point where I felt it necessary to try and get this story out. 

When did you take a step to start writing?

In  February of 2020.  I decided to attempt to publish this work as a book around April of that year.

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How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

The book is scheduled to officially release tomorrow, November 9, 2021.  That will make it 22 months from when I first started written.

What made you want to write Hope Disappearing? 

Expanding on what I wrote above, I also felt very strongly that the average citizen, for the most part, did not have much insight into the homeless population.  That was based on my personal experiences and opinions  prior to working with the homeless for almost seven years.  It was confirmed many times in conversation with friends and past associates, which I believe has led to an overwhelming devaluing and lack of interest regarding the homeless (except for not wanting them in their neighborhood). 

I witnessed hundreds of people who had been chronically homeless for long periods of time, come into our program and after a year or two, leave a totally different person.  Almost all of them are living independently today and some have gone on to do remarkable things in the community.  The avenues to “get out”  that were available to this group for almost 20 years have now been deconstructed.  I considered that a tragedy.

Sherman Haggerty, author of Hope Disappearing, interview on The Table Read

What were your biggest challenges with writing Hope Disappearing?

As a work of non-fiction, putting all the facts and assumptions together with my experiences of the last seven years into a story that would be both interesting and somewhat easy to understand

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What was your research process for Hope Disappearing?

There were several.  I researched the policy changes at the federal level, that ultimately had profound impact on the funding of homeless services.  I did research on the research for making the policy changes, I did research on how those policy changes worked their way down to changes is service delivery requirements. 

I also did a lot of research in the cost of providing services depending on the service model and I did research on the outcomes of programs.  I also didin extensive interviews with clients.

How did you plan the structure of Hope Disappearing?

I originally had a manuscript that was chronological in order, which is the way I lived it.  My editor, bless her heart, had me regroup the book into topical sections with references which vastly improved the finished product.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Hope Disappearing need?

Yes.  WE took a several months, so quite a bit.

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What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?

Find a reputable publisher who can help you assemble a great team.  Especially if it is going to be non-fiction.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

I just got this one to be released.  I have an idea on a follow up book but probably won’t get started until mid 2022.  I am thinking about telling more stories of true homeless heroes in our region.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Absolutely.  Yes and yes.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Book is available on Amazon today. Should be in Barnes and Nobel in a few weeks.

Website:  Pastor Haggerty

Facebook: Pastor Haggerty

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