Levester Joe Green is a Street Sense vendor who works in the Tenleytown neighborhood of Washington, DC.
“It sucks being homeless, not having the things you need in life!” Green said, summarizing his life on the street.
Green was not always homeless. He had his family, lived in a house and has been enrolled in several universities. At each he majored in Communications — but has not completed a degree from any.
Nevertheless, he didn’t totally wasted his time. Green says he gained a lot of experience.
“I first came out and I was hustling my poems to get them out there and see some published. I was printed in The Collegian, a school newspaper from South Carolina State University and Reflections Magazine of Prince George’s Community College,” he said. Green was also the poetry editor for The Trilogy, University of the District of Columbia’s school paper.
Green said he had an opportunity to try to return to school once again, this time at American University, but declined with the thought that ramping up his student loans would be like putting himself in a kind of prison.
“My original debt was about $10,000 or so. It’s now between $70,000 and $90,000 and I still have no degree! Go figure!” he yelled.
Green also tried his hand at whatever miscellaneous job opportunities he could find.
“Still I have no home, ride or vehicle. I managed to get a truck, but I got crashed into while I was making deliveries in an attempt to get myself off the streets and have a warm place to stay and sleep!”
After trying out many jobs, Green was introduced to Street Sense by Charles Davis, a vendor who has introduced the paper to a number of other people on the street.
“He told us the time and the place to be to get on to this glorious production of talent,” said Green. “So away I went to sign and join up! This is the way I became vendor number 515!”
Now Green is a published poet and illustrator with Street Sense.
“I may not be getting paid for my creations, thoughts, or ideas, but I have the satisfaction of seeing them in action,” he said.
Vendors receive newspapers for their published work.
One of two mottos Green lives by is “just enjoy it!” Another, “work hard, play hard!” These two adages help him keep continue writing, even if the results do not all appear at one time.
“What Street Sense has done for me is give me an outlet for my talent to be featured in. Initially, it was all about the money, being on the streets and in need of others’ assistance constantly,” Green said. “But once I got published, it became something more to me and for me!”