Kentucky man lives in shack to call attention to people ‘on the margins’

Published 6:31 am Sunday, December 6, 2020

‘Living with less so that others might have more’

On a cold, bright Wednesday, Andy Bathje sits on the porch of a rough wooden shack at the corner of Wilmore’s Main Street and Lexington Avenue, drinking coffee and talking with friends.

The executive director of AdventureServe Ministries, had spent the night in the tiny house and would be living there throughout the rest of the week to raise awareness of those who are hungry or homeless or who live in poverty.

It’s something he does every year during the week of the Bluegrass Community Foundation’s Good Giving Challenge to raise money for his organization. 

In 24 hours, he said, he had raised about $1,000 online and maybe another thousand in sponsorships. His goal this year is $12,000.

His mantra is “Living with less so that others might have more.”

“A lot of our ministry work is taking volunteers from churches and the community and doing service projects for people who live on the margins in some way,” Bathje said. “Maybe they’re dealing with substandard housing that has some similarities to this structure. Or they’re getting help from a homeless shelter, or they’re living with disabilities. … So by me sitting here, it’s a visual representation of people in need.”

It’s also a way for him to better understand the less fortunate by living under the same conditions, such as being cold inside a dwelling. 

He has a warm sleeping bag and a space heater, which kept the shack at about 40 or 50 degrees Tuesday night when it was freezing outside.

By being on the most visible corner in Wilmore, it’s a reminder that people on the margins often live in the least desirable places, where it’s noisy, they have little privacy and they may feel they’re unsafe.

And, because people see him there and stay to talk, he gains insights into others’ lives.