On January 22 Street Sense held its first night out event: a game night at the Verizon Center in Chinatown. We had more than 75 people there, including vendors and staff who spread out to witness the Miami Heat take on the Washington Wizards. Many vendors who experience homelessness could forget their problems for a while and we raised $600!
We got a Box Suite donated to us by Mike Mullen, and a chosen few got to sit in the, let us say, more comfortable seats in a private room not far from the court. The view from Suite 203 was amazing: we were close enough to see the players but far enough to see the entire court.
The chairs were dressed up and elegant and the suite itself looked northeast over the court. We watched as the Heat pulled away by twenty points. At the half the Heat led by fifteen. As Miami pulled ahead by twelve in the third, I could sense the fans’ frustration.
After three quarters of play, the score was 85–64. The stadium started to empty as the Heat led by eighteen in the fourth. In the end the Wizards lost 112–88.
Even Mike said, “I had a great time, but I wish the Wizards won.” Normally games cost between $40 and a $100 each. Few, if any, vendors can afford to pay that for entertainment.
We arrived at the Verizon Center around 6 p.m. For some of us it was our first time seeing an NBA game, and they had a look of excitement on their faces. Some of the vendors had seats in the “nosebleeds” as we call them, which are up on the very upper level of the stadium, including our new executive director Abby Strunk, as she let the vendors go into the good seats (thanks for that, Miss Abby). You could still see the game though, so there were no problems.
The game got off to a very fast pace, as we all know the Wizards were without their star player Gilbert Arenas, who was banned from playing indefinitely for allegedly bringing guns to the Verizon Center, so they were at a disadvantage from the start.
When we got to our seats, there were about 200 people in the stadium, by the time the game started it was full. There was a great atmosphere in the place, which was great for the first-timers.
When the game started Greg Martin, the vendor manager, and I went to see the other vendors. I hope we will have more game nights and fundraisers to help this wonderful company go from strength to strength and keep this paper going for many years to come.