In a word, DIGNITY.
More than an act of charity- an even exchange between two human beings. The street vendor in question had run out of newspapers. He had only a few copies of a December issue that they made available to him. He let me know this right up front. Shared the potential issue and the opportunity with me and in a previous blog, I've reported on Seth Godin's observation that 'Day old news is good enough. Indeed, the news contained was still relevant, and better yet, I got a bargain. For just a dollar the man on the street gave me a sense of satisfaction, a blessing and some kind words. He retained his dignity. He demonstrated Integrity. We both came away smiling and satisfied.
Ever look deeper into SPARE CHANGE? the newspaper of the street? There is a real business behind it. The street vendors pay a small amount and get a stack of papers. The money they receive pays back their investment and provides for profit and a sense of worth and work.
Spare Change News was founded in 1992 by a group of homeless people and a member of Boston Jobs with Peace. It is one of the earliest street newspapers. Perhaps the whole movement started right here in Boston as many other activities of note have?
But, not just us here in Cambridge USA but how about Cambridge UK? Prince William of Wales wrote an article exclusively for Street News Service (Dec 17, 2010) the news agency of the International Network of Street Papers supporting 115 street papers in 40 countries. He is quoted as saying "The economic downturn has had a devastating effect on the numbers of homeless sleepers in our communities (but) the work of the restorers of hope - street newspapers and other organizations and individuals who care - so inspire me. They give homeless people the tools with which to rebuild their confidence and ultimately, their lives."
We've been sponsoring a vendor. His name is Edward. We provide personalized stickers for his papers with a link to his website. Edward has a good work ethic, is reliable and one of the best vendors in the program in part because he is proud of what he is doing.
There's a lot of conversation today around #OccupyBoston. Lot's of unrest looking for outlets. You can take just one small step and make improvement in a person's life.
We're invested in bettering our community. Prince William? He's invested too. How about you?