What Street Sense Means to Me

Photo of a cold, wet night in Washington, DC's late winter

The H St NW and 7th St NW intersection. Photo courtesy of Michael Foley / flickr

The financial crisis has hit many workplaces, big companies and small nonprofits alike. Unfortunately, Street Sense is also feeling the grips of the economy. Street Sense has been around for five years and has helped numerous people in financial turmoil.  

Without Street Sense, just imagine what the homeless situation would really be like.  

I have been to numerous cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore. Like me, those who have been to those cities have seen numerous people who are on the streets. With no hope or opportunities, their only alternatives are to beg, panhandle, sell drugs or beat someone over the head to get some money.  

A street paper gives a homeless person an opportunity to do something legal and legitimate instead of maybe getting locked up in jail because no one gave a damn.  

Not only does Street Sense help the homeless, it also allows young people and many college students and volunteers to get involved and to do internships to get their degrees. These hard workers realize the challenge of poverty and the effects it has on the community. They don’t get paid, but work tirelessly to make sure the papers are distributed. What I like best about Street Sense is not my articles, it’s the very back page, which tells people about the resources for the homeless in a particular area.  

Street Sense teaches people how to be businessmen, not beggars and panhandlers, and how to get up and work instead of waiting for someone to give you something. We are out in the rain, snow, high humidity and all events that go on in Washington. We make sure those who are tourists get the right information about our homeless situation.  

Without Street Sense, many would have been too proud to say I am homeless, and might have died on the streets, literally and figuratively. Without Street Sense, I would have never found my father and my relatives, whom I love dearly.  

Without Street Sense, we vendors would not meet all the people who tell us about town hall meetings, jobs and other resources to connect us with loved ones and events. I love all the customers I have encountered over the years.  

Street Sense is not perfect. We have disagreements and arguments, but without support we can’t fix the problems to make the paper better.  

I hope as you continuously support our paper, you imagine those cities that don’t have a street paper, and see how sad their homeless situation is.  

Our city is the standard because with Street Sense, homeless people have a chance to write, speak out, and learn the process of printing a newspaper.  

I have seen with my own eyes as I train people who came in dirty, smelly and homeless, the transformation from being hopeless to having optimism.  

I myself was one of the homeless who came with just a bus ticket, a t-shirt and my dirty jeans, who after selling papers became enthused, excited and hopeful for the future.  

Without a paper I might be lying in a park or doing something illegal like selling drugs for a way to survive.  

Right now, more than ever, we need your support, whether you give a little or can place an ad, take out a subscription or grant.  

With more and more people becoming homeless, we can’t afford not to have a Street Sense. We all as citizens need to pitch in and save our paper from going extinct.  

To all my customers or future clientele, if you wish to help or volunteer you can contact or email me, or call the office.  

We cannot procrastinate or delay.  

Help is needed urgently.  

Jeffery has been a vendor for 15 months and he recently started working at Comfort One Shoes in Chinatown 

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