Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Stephen, Paper Sales Extraordinaire

Stephen Dockery


“Hello! Street Sense, how may I help you?” Stephen Dockery answers the intercom.

“I am… I need papers please.”

“I’ll be right down, just give me a moment.”

Stephen grabs the keys and the pink cash bag on his way down to the lobby to sell newspapers at a wholesale price to the waiting Street Sense vendor. They chat as he counts out the necessary papers and accepts the vendor’s payment and signature.

“At first it was hectic… overwhelming. There are lots of people coming in the lobby and your job is to organize everything,” Stephen said.

He and his easy-going personality are a crucial part of Street Sense’s front door. A 27-year old journalist for Agence France-Presse (AFP), Stephen values the fusion of career and volunteerism he finds at Street Sense.
“I love what they are about… running a community program while reporting the news,” Stephen said.

Growing up in Virginia and commuting to the District for most of his life, Stephen is accustomed to grabbing a newspaper along the way. Luckily, one day, Street Sense was that paper. He hasn’t stopped reading it since.
But Stephen wasn’t satisfied to remain a reader. He seized the chance to volunteer when some free time opened up in his schedule. For him it is both rewarding to be part of a community organization and a bit of an escape to be in a newsroom environment, without all of the duties of his day job.

“It runs like a newspaper,” Stephen said. “Just the way the vendors & staff interact is lovely – I haven’t seen it anywhere else.”

Spending time in the office and greeting vendors as they stop by, Stephen hears many stories, ranging from everyday struggles, to dealing with family members, to news developments. Each one makes him feel like part of the community.

“The best thing about sales is to speak with people,” Stephen said.

The interaction of selling the paper updates him on what’s happening. He is looking forward to engaging in the writing process, too, at some point. Stephen feels that Street Sense is a good place for journalists to volunteer as it adds to their knowledge of homelessness in the community. This is why he stops by every week to help Street Sense with paper sales.

Region |Washington DC

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