Photo of Michael Warner
Sam Bermas-Dawes

Michael Warner can list the names of his regular customers off the top of his head. He lists names non-stop: Sara, Andrew, Mary, Al, Damian, Rick, Taylor, Tasha, Brian, and he goes on.

When Michael feels down, he goes and sells Street Sense at one of his spots in Bethesda or Tenleytown.

“I gain a sense of encouragement. They are there for me. Like a family.”

Michael was born in Tampa Bay, but has lived in D.C. since 1982.

Michael’s father was in the Air Force for two decades, and his military service brought the family to Washington.

He graduated from American University in 1998 with a degree in Political Science and went on to start his own website, mymusicpublisher.com, during the technology boom in the early 2000s.

Michael is a graduate of Georgetown Legal Assistant program.

He used to have it all — a luxury condo and cars — but lost it. As a result, he has come to rely more on his faith.

“The experience has made me a more humble person,” he says.

Now he wants to rebuild his life, and his ultimate goal is to be a full-time law student at Columbia Law school.

Michael takes classes at Arizona Summit Law School, and together with his Georgetown certificate thinks he has a decent shot at getting into Columbia’s School of Law in New York City.

“I am grateful to Street Sense,” Michael says. “I am proud to sell papers. I am proud to share with the community and I believe in the community.”

Michael has been a part of the Street Sense community for around one year.

At the time of this interview, Michael was preparing for an interview with a technology company, Uber.

Michael is a Redskins fan and loves films and history. These two passions combine when Michael talks about his favorite films, which include Ben-Hur and Gladiator. Some of his favorite actors are Denzel Washington, Robert De Niro and Leonardo Di Caprio.

Michael got into Street Sense because he knew some vendors, and writing for a newspaper advocating for the homeless interested him. He enjoys being part of an organization that advocates for people in need.

For Michael, the daily meet-and-greet with his customers motivates him. He advises new vendors to build connections with their customers and help brighten their day.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Michael said.

Michael has an exciting year in front of him. If he gets the jobs he is interviewing for he’ll be able to get his apartment back. Once he collects his grades from Arizona Summit Law school, he will send his application to Columbia law school.

With his experience at Street Sense and his education in higher education institutions in Washington, Michael is motivated and optimistic about his future. Michael’s customers help boost his spirits and keep him motivated. Their positivity is invaluable to Michael as he works to reach his goals, he says.

“I value my relationship with my regulars more than the money they give me.”