James Davis never missed a day in the twenty-five years he worked with the Department of Defense. He calls himself a “workaholic” and blames his focused attitude for the separation from his wife. After an unfortunate series of events that caused him to experience homelessness for the first time, he has become a leader and speaks across the country on behalf of the National Homeless Coalition. He is an advocate for people to understand that “homeless” is not a type of person; rather, people find themselves “experiencing homeless”. It is an honor to share the story of one of the founding vendors of Street Sense with you all! Happy Birthday James!

As I mentioned early last week, my younger brother, Sam, has officially joined our Seeing Hope Team. Here is his reflection from his first day last week. He and his girlfriend, Genevieve Ott, returned to DC yesterday to help Street Sense and get to know some incredible vendors. I will post her reflection soon! 

 

“I worked with Street Sense this Tuesday to help sell newspapers to the vendors. Each paper was sold for thirty-five cents, which was then sold by then vendors for an asking price of one dollar. These vendors, the homeless of our nation’s capital, use and value Street Sense as not only their job, but also their lifeline. I learned stories of success through Street Sense of people who were able to earn enough money to buy an apartment to support himself and his two kids. The vendors choose what to do with the money they earn, but I know that almost all of the vendors I met that day were putting the money towards necessities they need to continue being able to live.

 

I was given the opportunity to help interview a vendor named Sybil, a kind, loving woman that has worked with Street Sense for years. Learning her story of how she was once a model who turned into a hotel cleaner and eventually homeless was not only a humbling experience but also an inspiring one. Even though one might have so little, there is still hope. Hope that Street Sense provides these people to be able to work towards their goal of having better quality life.

 

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I strongly encourage you, reader, that next time you see someone on the sidewalk trying to maybe sell you a paper or even panhandling you for money, think about their story and how they got to be where they are today. I found that it isn’t always a fair story or a story they could choose to avoid. But look for the Street Sense badge and make a donation, your money might be their saving grace.”  - Sam Evans 

I am so glad I get to share Sybil Taylor’s smile with you all today. Sybil is a Washington DC native who began working for Street Sense after she lost her job. She has written for the paper many times and is a consistent advocate for other vendors to keep their spirits up no matter who they encounter on the street. Sybil’s smile is extremely contagious and her spirit is so warm and loving that you can’t help but to laugh with her. Unfortunately, we had technical difficulties with the connection between our microphone and our camera so you’ll notice a slight buzzing noise when you watch the video.

What I’m so excited to share with you in addition to her smile and her story, is the news that my little brother, Sam, filmed this video and is the newest Seeing Hope enthusiast and project contributor. I will be posting his reflection on his first day at Street Sense this evening.

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Only two more videos to come.. Don’t forget to take the Street Sense Readership Survey – http://streetsense.org/get-involved/2012readers/

Meet Barron Hall, a Vietnam War veteran who has been working with Street Sense since 2005. His passion is educating those on the struggle that most veterans face upon returning to out country and the lack of support that is readily available for them. His story is truly incredible and his perseverance to break his dependence on self-medication (the only option to treat his PTSD after returning to the U.S. at the age of 20 – already a veteran of war) and begin reconnecting with his family is so admirable. Barron says that Street Sense has given him his dignity back and allowed him the time and space to express himself and speak on behalf of the other veterans in our country that are suffering. He will be writing an article and sharing photos with us about the VA Medical Center (http://www.washingtondc.va.gov/)

It’s an honor to introduce all of you to Gary Minter today. Gary has been working for Street Sense for a year and has found it to be his new outlet for activism. Having graduated from Duke with a double major in Religious Studies and Zoology, teaching college students in China, and running for Congress – Gary has an incredible story. We’re really excited to be working on some new Street Sense articles about protests and activist movements around Washington DC with him. Stay tuned for his story on the taxi cab drivers of the DC area! Happy Thursday!

Sorry for posting this to the blog a day late. We released Veda’s video yesterday, the Fourth of July, to our YouTube subscribers and Facebook friends. Veda has been selling and working for Street Sense for the past six years. Since beginning her work with Street Sense she has accomplished five years of sobriety and is now housed with her six kitties! She is a truly remarkable woman who believes in paying it forward and giving back to her community. Her dream for the future is to move out to the country and own enough land to operate and animal rescue shelter. Veda is well known for her powerful voice and musical talent that she uses to brighten up the day of the many people who see her around Metro Center. Thank you to Anasa Sinegal for assisting in the interview for this video (Anasa is a PhD student at UNC Chapel Hill – she is writing her dissertation on street papers). Hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th yesterday. Keep your eyes and ears open for Gary Minter’s video which will be coming in the next few days!

Hi Everyone, Happy Thursday! I wanted to write a quick note to you all and let you know that we have yet to do an interview this week so we do not have a video ready for your viewing. Due to some scheduling difficulties we have been unable to successfully interview a vendor from Street Sense so far this week. However, we’re working on it! We’re hoping to finish a filming today and have it ready for you guys by Saturday! Keep your eyes open for the uploading of David Denny’s “One Week” photos in the near future as well – we’re so excited to share them with you! Best, Abby.

Hi Everyone! I wanted to share some very exciting and good news with you all! This afternoon I went to the Eastern Market with my mom who came down to visit. We ran into Philip Black, “The Cat in the Hat” from the first Seeing Hope video, and learned that he has officially moved into his own apartment after being “unhoused” for three and a half years!!! He has also gained custody of his children who are 13 and 15 years old. The look in his eyes when he told of the good news nearly brought me to tears. Philip made it very clear to us that he would never have been able to accomplish such a thing without the hope and determination that Street Sense instilled in him. Street Sense is working, and I am so inspired by these people. That’s all for today. Happy Sunday!

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend my Wednesday afternoon with Aida Peery, a Street Sense vendor, mom, and college graduate; and it is my great pleasure to share her story with you all. I hope you will be as inspired by her resilience as I was.

Faithful Okoye, a Street Sense intern who has gotten involved with the Seeing Hope project, introduced Aida to me. Aida is an incredible woman and her profile, written by Faithful, can be found in this issue of Street Sense.

Aida and I spent hours together on Wednesday afternoon having lunch and sharing each other’s stories. She is a remarkable woman and I am so inspired by her resilience and ability to have hope and strength despite dealing with things that were impossible to handle all at once. She has been selling Street Sense since September of 2011. When I asked her where she saw herself in her future she said, “I’m never going to stop selling Street Sense.. Even if I get another job, I’ll always come here and buy my papers to sell. It’s a good paper and there’s a lot of talented people involved”.

We also spent a lot of time speaking about her daughter who Aida is so proud of for graduating high school this year with high honors. Aida never graduated from a high school (she received her GED in 1984) so seeing her daughter accomplish such a milestone was a wonderful gift to her.

Enjoy the video. More updates and posts to come soon (promise!). Happy Friday!

One day late after some tech difficulties (I finally updated to the new version of iMovie..) but it gives us great joy to share with you David Denny’s story and poetry. David has been living “the cycle of homelessness” on and off for ten years. Since starting with Street Sense two years ago, he has found a sense of belonging with the organization and says “Street Sense is beautiful”. We hope you will be as inspired as we were by David’s story and poetry.

If you’d like to know more about David and/or his poetry – feel free to get in touch with us! And don’t forget to pick up your copies of Street Sense!

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