Morgan Jones began selling the Street Sense Media newspaper, not because he had been experiencing homelessness, but because he had lost his job at a time when he was caring for his ailing brother and their elderly mother. This past summer, Jones began searching the internet for ways to increase his income. He came across a video of a woman making soap and became hooked.
“I thought, ‘Hey, maybe I can do this’,” Jones recalls. “So, one day, I just decided to make it. I got the ingredients together, all the things I needed, and I just started making soap. It was kind of fascinating to me.”
Jones believes soap-making might be beneficial to people who are seeking employment while experiencing homelessness, and he is quite clear about the need to give, sometimes, rather than sell. He believes cleanliness requires toiletries, and that he can help provide them to those who otherwise might not have access to it. “People don’t want anybody smelling bad around them. You have to have good hygiene to go to work.”
When listening to Jones talk about the process of soap-making, one gets the sense that there is much more meaning to his efforts. “When you make the soap in the molds, they’re beautiful, they’re like pieces of art. Some people buy it just to have in their bathrooms for decoration, or just for the beautiful smell,” he says.
There is also much more to Jones than the entrepreneurial efforts surrounding his soap-making. He accredits some of it to Street Sense Media. In addition to selling the newspaper, he’s involved himself with other opportunities, including interviewing D.C.’s shadow representative, Franklin Garcia. “It’s been very good for me. It’s given me a chance to do movies. I’ve done two documentaries. I’m a producer over at DCTV.
Soap sales have been slow but Jones is encouraged by the support from Street Sense Media and Church of the Epiphany, where Street Sense Media’s offices are located. “Everybody’s trying to help me make soap and sell soap,” he says.
In addition to his soap-making, Jones has other plans. “One of my long-term goals is to eventually have a community food bank for the vendors at Street Sense Media so that [vendors] can come in and have access to food.” He points out that food stamps only last for so long, and at the end of the month, some vendors might not have enough food.
Jones also would like to help establish a credit union for vendors. “People need to know about how to start a bank account, need to learn how to sit down and talk to a banker, learn how to write checks, how to pay their bills on time,” he says. “That’s the type of thing that helps people grow, and it could be access to money, to getting housing and other things.”
Jones says he remains with Street Sense Media to give himself something to do. “I really have nobody to take care of but me now.”