People Helping People
Recently I visited the Georgetown University Law Center, thanks to a new friend, Emily who is a customer I have gotten to know selling Street Sense in Cleveland Park. Emily is also a law student at Georgetown, and she asked me to speak at her school. I felt honored for the privilege to speak at such a prestigious place. I saw Emily’s sincerity and concern for the homeless. But I never expected that the rest of her class would have the same concern.
That afternoon I met Emily and she took me to her campus. I was in awe with the magnificence and ambience of the law school. We went to the cafeteria and Emily bought me a salad. We briefly sat and chatted till it was time to go to her class. She then took me to her classroom where I met her fellow students and her instructor, Patricia Mullahy Fugere, who is also executive director of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
Once the class began, Patricia asked me a few questions about some of the problems about the homeless. We had a beautiful dialogue. We were joined by one of her honor students who also took part in the conversation. Patricia showed the class a chart that laid out the basic costs of living in the D.C. area. The chart clearly showed the difficulties faced by families and single people trying to get by on low-wage jobs. It was very informative and I took notes because the facts startled me.
Then we had a discussion. The students and Patricia asked me tough questions about homelessness. I told them there are differences between homeless people, and that there are different causes for homelessness. Some have made bad decisions, others are mentally ill, or have addictions.
I also explained that homelessness in Washington isn’t the same as homelessness in Buffalo.
I warned them that you have got to be careful when you allocate resources to help the homeless to make sure your money goes to the truly needy.
I realized the students were engaging and very interested. I told them about Street Sense and why we need a paper like ours. Some bought the paper which made me happy. The best part of the class involved a discussion about developing a resource center to help the working poor and the larger community. We engaged in how to make such a resource center work, creating jobs and offering training in life skills. It was a spirited and exciting discussion.
I got a ride home from a lady named Elizabeth. We chatted and I was so honored to be a part of the class and share a part of my life. Thank you, students, for being involved. I hope as a group we can bring change.
Jeffery has been a vendor for Street Sense for 19 months and is originally from New Jersey and loves to fish.