Laura Thompson Osuri

In the fall of 2002, three years into the “real world” after graduating college, I was on a quest for something more meaningful to do with my life. I was happy with my job as a reporter covering community banking issues, but it just wasn’t satisfying. I had briefly thought about going into the Peace Corps or volunteering abroad, but I felt a calling to stay put in D.C. I felt that there was no need to go to Africa to help the poor and hungry as there were plenty of poor and hungry right outside my door.

Then on a trip to visit a friend in Seattle I came across a copy of Real Change, the street paper there. And I thought it was the best idea: helping homeless people help themselves, while also letting the public know about the issues this population faced. I had been volunteering tutoring at-risk kids and cooking for a monthly breakfast program for homeless people. So a street paper, I thought, was the perfect marriage between my professional interest and my humanitarian interests. And I had a feeling that this street paper idea might just be the meaningful goal I was on a quest for.

About 10 months after I stumbled across Real Change, through some random connections and persistence, co-founder Ted Henson and I began the startup effort for what was to become Street Sense. While I knew this effort would change my life, I did not quite realize how many others it would touch. I am blessed to see all the vendors who have made their lives better through Street Sense and amazed to see how many readers have been changed by the articles in the paper and interaction with vendors. I would have never guessed back when the first issue came out in November 2003 that this scrappy little startup paper would effect so much positive change.