The Columbus Coalition for the Homeless is a small grassroots non-profit with the purpose of providing resources for the homeless. Since it is a small agency I am able to have more control over my work and see the products of my work. For example, on the third day of my fellowship I was able to review and change part of the Street Speech, a newspaper that the homeless population sells. If I worked with the Columbus Dispatch I doubt I would be given this opportunity so quickly.
My first job is updating the Streetcard, which is a resource pamphlet for the homeless population. Initially, I thought this job would take only a couple days to complete. However, I found out that I really need to understand the organization, the resources in Columbus, and what the community needs to do a good job. I have been listening to the current employees/board members/volunteers talk about resources in the community, calling the agencies on the current Streetcard to verify the information, and talking with homeless people about which resources they use and don’t use. This collaboration and patience is needed for the Streetcard to benefit the homeless population.
In addition to the Streetcard I have helped to sell the Street Speech newspapers. I am glad to see how well it is run. Many people believe that non-profits/government agencies run inefficiently and ineffectively. However, I believe this newspaper is a strong and well-organized system. There is an Excel sheet which documents how many papers are sold to the homeless vendors and how much money is being generated. Also, there is a system about where the vendors are allowed to stand and incentives in place to allow successful vendors to have priority where they want to stand.
I have noticed that the sales pitch of the vendors vary in effectiveness. I would like to get a successful vendor to come in and speak about what they do to in order to help new vendors. I believe this workshop will improve the sales of new vendors.
My second job is to identify a start-up to employ homeless people. Currently, it is too early to know what I will need to do achieve this. The Street Speech seems like a great job to provide quick money to this population.