“A people must have dignity and identity. “
I bought a newspaper from a homeless man today.
Street Roots is a publication sold by homeless people in the Portland area. Each bi-weekly issue sells for $1 with 75 cents going to the seller. After a drug-free orientation, the vendor is given ten free newspapers to sell and a badge. After that, papers can be purchased for 25 cents by the homeless seller. It’s a sustainable model (since 1998) to help provide stability and a reliable source of income to someone without either.
My vendor was sitting outside a coffee shop in downtown Portland, near our destination. He was in a wheel chair holding up a plastic bag filled with newspapers. He was disabled and wore a military surplus coat and sunglasses on a cloudy day. As I gave him a dollar, I asked how things were going. He held his head up and looked me in the eye, saying he was a Vietnam vet. I asked if he was getting enough to eat as I fingered the McDonald’s gift card in my pocket.
“Yeah, the VA takes pretty good care of us. It only took 40 years,” he said with a sarcasm that really didn’t sound bitter. He seemed to be doing ok. I kept my card and we parted ways with a copy of Street Roots, a smile, a handshake, and a ‘Merry Christmas.”
Before we left downtown, I offered to help another man who seemed to be struggling with his wheel chair. Looking down, he said he was ok and mumbled if I could help. I asked him if he was getting enough to eat. He looked down again and shook his head. I gave him the McDonald’s card and we parted with a seasons greetings. The man put his head back down.
After returning home from downtown, I opened up the paper. The front cover had pictures of 31 people and below each of them was written one word.
Hope, Pride, Money, Freedom, Purpose, Living, Fun, Opportunity, Self-Esteem, and so on.
Those were the answers to the question at the top of the page,
“Q. In a word, what does Street Roots mean to you?”
At the end of the page was the answer,
“A. All of the above.”
Perhaps Street Roots is indeed … all of the above.
Bought a copy of Street Roots from a disabled vet, fed another man. Made grilled cheese & tomato soup for lunch and lasagna for dinner to feed my family and another.