Countless people all over the world get from place to place on public transportation. It’s the lifeline that keeps mass numbers of commuters on their feet.
And in most major cities, public transportation stops are also a haven for artists of different disciplines. Seeing someone strumming a guitar in hopes of a passerby throwing a few dollars into their instrument case is a common sight.
Will Boyajian, a musician from upstate New York, plays his guitar and sings in the subway.
Boyajian grew up outside of the bustling city of New York, but after moving there as an adult, the city’s homeless problem saddened him deeply.
“When I first moved to the city … this dude got on the train … and was clearly homeless,” Boyajian told The New York Post “The whole train moved away. None of us will ever experience that type of rejection in our lives.”
He wanted to help the homeless in a tangible way, but was unsure of how to tackle such a big problem.
“I was thinking, with my limited resources, and my limited skillset, what can I do?” Boyajian said in an interview with Steve Adubato.
Boyajian said he didn’t act on his idea right away, but after having a bad day, felt like he needed to do something to help others. He drew up a sign, went to the 42nd street subway station, and began to play.
“If you’re homeless or need help, take as much as you need from the case,” Boyajian’s sign reads.
The kind-hearted performer said people responded to his mission right away. He welcomes people to take as much or as little money out of his guitar case as they like without fear of judgement.
“I probably had forty or fifty left and my voice was trashed and I wanted to go home,” Boyajian said, recalling a particular interaction with a homeless man and his dog.
“I said just empty it out man … Treat yourself. And [he said] it’s enough for one of those hotels that let the dogs come and he told the dog ‘Moby, we’re going to be okay.'”
In his time playing in the subway, he said most people take a few dollars but leave most of the money in the case. Only a few times has someone cleared the case entirely.
The 42nd street music man hopes to grow the outreach to help more people.
The philanthropic guitarist has become a fixture at the 42nd street A train platform. He has since started “Hopeful Cases,” a homeless outreach in which he empowers other musicians to do the same thing.
“I would like if we had a guy at all the major subways, so 59th, 42nd, 34th, 14th, we have someone there as much as we can,” Boyajian said. “And I would eventually like to spread it to the other major cities.”
The social entrepreneur said he is currently in talks with musicians in Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles who are interested in helping Hopeful Cases expand.
“Those are the four corners, and that would make me really pumped,” Boyajian said.