Vendor Profile:
Andrell Robinson

Image of a stack of newspapers.

Jon S/ Flickr

Andrell Robinson is a strong believer in the power of respect.

A young man in his early 20s, Robinson warns against making snap decisions about others and believes it is more valuable to take the time to get to know people and listen to them.

For instance, Robinson said he feels that because he can often be found on street corners, people seem to think he is not willing to work, which is not true.

A proponent of community service, Robinson said his ideal job would be one where he would be able to help others in the spirit So Others Might Eat (SOME), a program that provides food, clothing, health programs and training services for people who are homeless. Robinson said he loves to assist others, even if it is with something as simple as pointing someone in the right direction.

Robinson grew up in New Jersey, but moved to Philadelphia when he began to have problems with his uncle, with whom he was living.

For the three weeks he was in Philadelphia, Robinson, who is openly bisexual, said he found support from the gay community. After experiencing the City of Brotherly Love, he became a property manager in New Jersey.

Robinson was laid off amid the foreclosure crisis. Jobless, he was evicted in 2011. After staying with a friend short-term, he moved to Virginia to stay with his brother.

Although his brother was able to help Robinson get ahold of his ID and birth certificate, they had disagreements about rent and living arrangements, and Robinson had to move out.

He still talks to his brother on and off, but does not consider him a strong supporter. Robinson looked for shelter in the Virginia area but said there were no vacancies, and he soon found himself on the streets of Washington, D.C.

Robinson said that since coming to D.C., he has started to read newspapers more often. The first time he picked up a newspaper in the District he thought to himself, “If I can’t feed my stomach I might as well feed my mind.”

Robinson said he reads news that may not be mainstream while also keeping up with what is going on in the nation’s capital, and he enjoys learning about aspects of issues that may not be the focus of traditional news sources. For example, he likes to read about health care reform, with a special interest in how it affects those in the gay community, specifically in regards to HIV/AIDS.

Since working with Street Sense, Robinson said he has come to appreciate the impact a kind word can have on an individual. He said he would like others to realize that sometimes just saying hello to people can make their days. He would like to especially thank Mira, Andre and Anthony for all of their love and support and for believing in him.

According to Robinson, “Life is like a baseball pitch. It can come at you fast, slide a bit or throw you a curveball, and the only thing you can do is stand there waiting for the pitch [wondering] what kind of life is coming at you.”

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We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.