I love this charity! 9 years ago I was able to tour the facility, meet some of the writers and some of the vendors selling the paper. Everyone had a different story and a different reason for being there. I was one of the more inspiring days I have had in DC. I still remember how positive and hardworking everyone was. Any chance I get I always try and buy a paper from one of the vendors. Every little bit helps.
I first became aware of Street Sense through a vendor I encountered near my home. I purchased the paper as often as I could. After moving out of the city, I no longer had this constant contact with vendors, and I always thought that I would like to get involved. I work as an editor, so I finally decided to get involved and lend my skills to the paper. I am proud to be part of this organization's effort to help the homeless in DC help themselves!
Street Sense not only does an amazing job empowering the homeless, who work as the papers vendors and writers. It also empowers its volunteers. From the moment I started helping out at Street Sense , the staff has made sure that my contributions, though so limited with a full-time job, were valued. And I know I'm not alone in this feeling.
I am a lifelong DC resident who used to pick up a copy of Street Sense newspaper from time to time and usually just skimmed it. I knew it was the so-called "homeless newspaper" but that was the extent of my involvement in the organization or the issue of homelessness in DC. While searching for volunteer opportunities one day, I found out more about Street Sense and called to see what I could do for them. What followed is an incredible experience where I am learning about homelessness, hunger and poverty and I really feel like I'm making a concrete difference in my fellow Washingtonian's lives as well as the overall perception and awareness of important issues. Street Sense simultaneously provides a source of income and base of support for over 100 people experiencing homelessness AND dismantles misconceptions through targeted news reporting and a medium through which the homeless population can express itself. While Street Sense is doing amazing work as it is, it has plans for expansive growth in the paper, the number of vendors and the services it can provide. One of the many things I love about Street Sense is the cohesion and positive attitude that all staff, volunteers, interns and vendors work with. Street Sense is a small operation that accepts help in any form and generosity in any amount, which means that it depends on the common understanding by all that participate, read or contribute to the paper, that it is making definite, positive change in lives and in society.
Journalism is alive and well, making a difference in the lives of the homesless. Street Sense creates a sense of community, linking its homeless vendors and its readers. I impressed an out-of-town visitor recently with my knowledge of homesless issues, all gleaned from reading Street Sense. I buy each issue from Cliff, my neighborhood vendor who is also a fine photographer. With a small staff, a tiny budget, and oceans of goodwill, Street Sense is tangibly enriching the lives of its vendors and intangibly enriching the lives of readers like me.
I've worked with Street Sense as the youth board member. It so far has been an engaging experience, meeting dynamic and interesting people ready to solve the problem of homelessness around them. Street Sense actually has a personal connection with the people it helps--at the same time producing an interesting and unique reading experience.
I came to Street Sense as an intern in February 2010 to fill academic credit. Every day I came in and checked the office's e-mails, helped organize information in the database, and most frequently wrote stories of my own. While I didn't get out of the office as much as other writers, I found that working at Street Sense gave me a much deeper view of homelessness and low-income issues than I ever expected, even knowing beforehand what Street Sense's mission was. Working with the often-homeless vendors, covering community services and initiatives, as well as hearing simply the day-to-day experiences have opened my eyes. And, frankly, I was just honored to be a part of it, even if only for a few months.