Splitting Opinions, Educating the Community, Street Vendor Immersion

This week there have been multiple meetings with service providers (i.e. Maryhaven and Faith Mission), the Community Shelter Board (CSB), and the City Council to address the shelter waitlist.  The average waitlist for men and women seeking shelter for July 2012 (77) has drastically increased from July 2011 (18).  We hope that the council will allot more funds to provide additional beds and staff to address the emergency shelter crisis.  The Columbus Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) provided concrete solutions to the problems with number of beds needed and associated costs.  No solution has been reached yet among the parties.

 Considering the general public does not know about CCH, we need to educate them.  I wrote an outreach advocacy speech this week to show people that we are a referral organization and employ people through Street Speech and Greenworks.  Individuals believe that “you guys are the ones that sell the newspaper” or “do you have a place I could sleep tonight.”  These examples are not entirely true so we need to educate the community about what we actually do.

 To get a better perspective of being a street vendor, I decided to go out and be a vendor!  I dressed down and went downtown to sell our newspaper.  I was more nervous than I thought I would be to sell the newspaper.  I stood at one corner and was very timid to ask executives walking with their suits and drinking their coffees if they wanted a paper.  However, I found the courage and greeted and asked people for 20 minutes.  Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful at selling even one paper.

 During our weekly writer’s meeting the vendors discussed and wrote down their experiences with individuals being disrespectful towards them.  For example, vendors discussed how individuals would swear at them and tell them “go get a real job and stop begging.”  Knowing the vendors personally and having sold the papers myself these comments disturb me.  This makes me what to further advocate for our program and organization as a whole.

David

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