It is never easy saying goodbye to someone that we care about. The Street Sense staff would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the many friends, colleagues, and customers of Mr. Phillip Howard.
Phillip passed away on March 9th at Providence Hospital in NE Washington, D.C. Phillip was our brother, a vendor that has been with Street Sense since its very inception. Phillip was born in 1951 right here in the District. Like so many of our vendors at Street Sense, through the years, Phillip found himself on the streets; in and out of shelters; and eventually into housing.
His status as a housed person did not stop Phillip from continuing to sell the paper or even offer his warm presence to the staff. On occasion, in the midst of a busy day, Phillip would ring in to our office to simply say “hello” and offer whoever was on the receiving end a word of encouragement.
For those of us who knew Phillip, this comes as no surprise. This was Phillip’s faith. No matter how much pain or suffering we go through in this world, life is good because, according to Phillip, “God is good.” During his final days, I had the honor to sit with Phillip at the hospital. I knew him to be a man of faith. On numerous occasions he told me that he read the Bible daily, especially when things were tough.
Due to the fragility of Phillip’s health, he was unable to speak and unable to move. But I picked up the Bible and read to him a passage of scripture that may be familiar to many of us: Psalm 23, which has a beautiful line where the psalmist states, “I shall fear no evil, for you are with me, thy rock and staff comfort me.” In that moment, I looked at Phillip, and although he could not speak, and he was in a state of failing health, I could see peace in his eyes.
As I said goodbye to Phillip for what would be the last time, I thanked Phillip for the joy he brought to the hearts of his many friends, the staff at Street Sense and his many customers. Phillip responded with a faint wink. We will all miss Phillip. But let us keep his spirit alive–the spirit of happiness–by surrounding ourselves with peace and a pure heart.