Archives for the month of: June, 2012

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!

It gives us great pleasure to finally share Tammy Karuza’s story with you all!! Her activist approach in her writing has inspired us, and we hope it will you too.

Tammy is newer to the Washington D.C. area, but working with Street Sense has allowed her to reconnect with her passion and gift as a writer. She feels as though God has called her to write about the experiences she is having as a homeless woman and use her gift to reach others. We hope you will enjoy hearing her recite “Faith Forward” an original poem she has written and has yet to put in the paper.

If you would like to know more about Tammy and her poetry, let us know! She is eager to share her work and have conversations with as many people as possible. (

Humbly – Abby

We must never lose infinite hope” – Martin Luther King Jr.

A major element of this project will be reflecting on the experiences I am having and the progress of this campaign and adventure. What I would like to state “right of the bat” is — I’m learning.

Having started the process of building trust and getting to know a few of the incredibly resilient Street Sense vendors, I am totally confident that I am in the right place at the right time. I have never felt so fulfilled, honored, and humbled all at once. The people I have met are inspiring and have already made a place in the person I know I am growing and maturing to be. That being said- this past week has been many things…

Walking to the Eastern Market with Johnnie last Saturday to do our first interview with Philip Black was a rush of excitement and eagerness. We had tested our equipment at home with a friend and had already touched base with Philip who had eagerly accepted our invitation to spend some time with him that afternoon. We had a wonderful time watching him work and seeing him interact with so many people; and our first interview with him was truly a success! Walking home we felt fulfilled and proud of ourselves for accomplishing our first interview. So, I go to plug in my camera to my computer and download the videos when I felt a sudden urge of panic… no audio. Apparently we had forgotten to make sure our external mic was working as we began shooting the interview… big oops. After a few minutes of panic and embarrassment, Johnnie managed to calm me down and we decided we would return to the Eastern Market the next day to ask for a re-do.

So we headed back to the Eastern Market the next day, found Philip, apologized, got a hug, and did a re-do. Already I noticed a huge change in myself while I interacted with Philip. I found the cadence of our conversation to be much smoother. Philip was also much less distracted and comfortable knowing what was coming. (Don’t forget to check out the video)

Something I had thought of prior to this experience and through my studies of leadership and anthropology was reciprocity. The term was first introduced to me two years about in my Introduction to Cultural Anthropology course that I took with Professor Richard Dillon at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. I remember so vividly the idea of building trust and rapport with the people you are interacting with and the importance and need for a sense of mutual reciprocity. Which is essentially developing a relationship where both parties benefit from the other.

When approaching vendors I begin by telling them that this project is about them… not me, not my school… them. As a token of gratitude I always make sure to bring a homemade lunch for each of my informants that consists of: a sandwich, piece of fruit, granola bar, and a bottle of water at minimum. Sometimes I find myself having to explain why this project has so much potential for these individuals…But it’s caught on like wildfire! Philip introduced us to two other vendors the day we did his interview and ever since then I’ve found myself developing a language that allows me to communicate why these videos, and this opportunity for these individuals to share their story, have so much potential. As an individual who has done extensive work in studying models of leadership and my own strengths; I have been able to tap into many “tools” in my “toolkit” that allow me to present myself in a meaningful way and develop trust and rapport with these individuals. This is an incredible experience. I am so grateful.

With the release of our first of ten videos last Wednesday we saw our readership jump extensively. Prior to releasing the short film on Philip Black we had around 75 views of this blog and we are now nearing 250! The video has been seen over 80 times on YouTube and we have been able to track “Shares” on Facebook. However, with the releasing of the video I’ve already had to answer many questions (mostly from my family and friends). Questions were raised about the validity of these videos and whether or not these videos will be testament to the work that Street Sense is doing and the hope that these vendors seem to be living. Here we go again… am I ready? The answer is yes (or at least I think so). I am by no means an expert on homelessness. I am not a counselor, a fact checker, or an expert videographer and/or editor. But my heart lies within each moment of this project and I am learning. As I stated in a previous blog post – I have tons of articles lying in my “To Read” pile and I am so eager to have the time to settle into a routine of academic research while taking my work with Street Sense further and hopefully more “into the field”. There are so many goals and questions that lie ahead in the upcoming weeks for this project, but I am confident that these people will inspire you and I am promising to do my best in sharing with you their stories in an effective and concise way. That being said, I am more than excited to hear from you! I hope that all of the readers of this blog will feel free to question and comment on the work that I am doing with the help of Johnnie. And most importantly, share what has moved you. I have an incredible network of support surrounding me that I am so grateful for and I am eager to share with you the story of Tammy Karuza this coming Wednesday.

That’s all for tonight. Keep your eyes, ears, minds, and hearts open for upcoming article reviews and the release of Tammy Karuza’s film on Wednesday. – Abby