Building a strong foundation is the key to success. That’s how Street Sense vendor Glenn Artis views his work sellings newspapers.
“In order to attain my goals, I have to build my foundation,” said Artis, 50. “Street Sense gives me the opportunity to be a leader, a businessman, a boss, and the freedom to be able to share my knowledge of life with others so they do not fall into the same path.”
Raised in the Bronx, Artis recognized his talents as a carpenter at an early age.
“At five years old, I built the birdhouse and then the dog house,” Arits says. “At eight, I decided to build a treehouse. So I got the ladder, climbed up there, and got it done.”
Artis is a self-proclaimed entrepreneur, having worked throughout his life in contracting, playing in gospel and R&B bands, teaching martial arts, and being a masseuse.
Artis formerly owned a contracting business called “Master Building.”
“I like to keep busy,” Artis said. “In my future, I want to incorporate my own company dealing with buying houses, fixing them up, and selling them. I also want to own my own studio mixing beats and making music, called Artis Productions.”
Artis began working as a teenager and hasn’t stopped since. Though he now sits in a motorized wheelchair due to an accident in 2010 where he fell off a 40 ft. retaining wall, Artis uses his positive attitude and determination to move forward. When selling newspapers, Artis tries to listen to his customers, asking them about their lives and encouraging them about the future.
“Everyone tells me they like how I represent myself and Street Sense,” Artis said. “When people come up to me I sit back, relax, and hear what they have to say.”
Upon moving to Washington, D.C., last January, Artis began staying in the New York Avenue men’s emergency shelter. But he left in July due to the negative energy surrounding the place, he said.
“I don’t want to go down any further than I already am,” said Artis. “I had to get out because if I stayed, I wouldn’t be able to help the people that need my help out here.”
Artis became a vendor at Street Sense about four months ago. He refers to the papers being “the tablet that Moses holds up.”
“As I do my work, I fold my paper and hold it up like the tablets close to my heart,” he said. “That is part of my message.”
When asked about his life’s message, Artis emphasized his importance on reaching the younger generation and giving wisdom to everyone he encounters.
“It’s good to pay attention and read this paper, because you never know, you might be in the same situation,” Artis said. “People need to know how they can receive more sense about the streets.”