ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – A filmmaker who travels across the country looking for unique people and their stories has made his way to Elizabethton. His series on YouTube is called “Once a Stranger.”

Scott Gerke is the man behind the idea. News Channel 11 spoke with him about how he got the idea for the series.

“A search for learning more about the world around us,” Gerke said. “So that’s how it all began.”

Living most of his life in Key West, Florida, Gerke was making a living as a DJ and events planner. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and he was forced to take on a new challenge.

“So, the goal is to build a connection with people I once never knew all through the power of a simple hello,” Gerke said. “And it’s supposed to share with people that everyone’s got a story to tell, and if you give them the opportunity to share it, you can really learn a lot about the people around you.”

That mission brought him to Elizabethton to do some fly fishing and check out one of the city’s marquee events, the Covered Bridge Festival. Scott found one of his unique stories at a childrens’ event there which featured young entrepreneurs.

“It’s just really neat to see that there is an opportunity for kids to be their own boss,” Gerke said. “I thought that was really nice and a wonderful idea. Kudos to you Elizabethton, fantastic idea.”

Gerke also had the opportunity to spend time with a tenth-generation Elizabethton resident, Father Timothy Holder of Saint Thomas Episcopal Church.

“He showed me around town and really was able to give me a good understanding of that community,” Gerke said.

Gerke believes in his mission of breaking down walls of loneliness through a simple act.

“I want people to know it takes a community to really build us up,” he said. “We are creatures that need love and belonging and we need people to know we matter, and this series is really all about that.”

Gerke hopes to take his series overseas next year. You can watch the YouTube episode on Elizabethton here.