Good morning! There is nothing I like more than waking up early on a Monday morning and getting a head start on things I need to get done! A lot of people complain about Monday’s… I love’em!
So I’m considering putting together somewhat of an advisory board for my Year of Giving. I believe that there are some interesting ways that the project can develop and hope to get some critical perspectives on it. If anyone knows someone wickedly smart or creative who they think would be an asset to this thought process, please shoot me an email.
Last week I was meeting with Abby Strunk, the executive director at Street Sense. As you know, I have enjoyed getting to know their vendors. As it turns out, she was following the Year of Giving journey and reached out to me a few weeks back. So we decided to meet up for coffee. She has been with the paper for six months and seems to be driving the organization in the right direction. I really believe in this organization and offered to help them out if there was anything I could do. Coincidentally, as we were chatting, she pointed out a Street Sense vendor who was selling the paper just on the other side of the frosted glass of the Caribou Coffee shop we were at. After our meeting, I walked over and gave my $10 to Tommy.
He is vendor # 003. That’s right…he is the third vendor hired. Tommy’s been selling Street Sense for about six years. He credit’s his friend Jose for encouraging him to sell the paper. At first Tommy didn’t think he would be good at it, but he proved himself wrong. Having a job turned out to be one of the key elements in Tommy’s sobriety. After years of drug and alcohol abuse, the 54-year-old father turned his life around seven years ago by getting sober. He is currently homeless, but stays in a local shelter and is an active voice in housing issues for the homeless.
I found a link on Street Sense’s website that had a small write-up on Tommy. I have copied a Q&A section that was part of the write-up that I thought you might find interesting.
What is your favorite kind of music?
Jazz, Korean and Jamaican music
What is your favorite food?
Steak with mashed potatoes and gravy
What is your favorite movie?
I like Batman and Spiderman but also like horror movies.
How did you become homeless?
I got myself into trouble doing stuff I wasn’t supposed to.
Were you ever homeless before?
Yes, about 20 years ago.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Tommy sees himself getting his drug counselors license and giving back to the community that helped him. He would also like to find a permanent residence.
Tommy never graduated from high school so now he is working on getting his GED. He hopes that once he gets his degree that he can go on to be certified as a drug counselor for recovering addicts. I think this would be a fantastic role for him.
He plans to use the $10 to pay bills. Selling the Street Sense is a big part of Tommy’s life, but he still lacks the funds to secure private housing. As he said in the interview excerpt above, he would really like to have his own place. I asked Tommy how we could help him and he gave me a list of several things that he needed.
Here’s a short video from my chat with him. You’re gonna like him!
Update July 7, 2010: Here is a little video from my first delivery of items for Tommy. Thanks to all who continue to help Tommy out. Be sure to check the Lend a Hand section for updated items that he needs.
Update June 26, 2011: Congratulations to Tommy who celebrated 8 years sober on May 27th!
Update December 4, 2012: I learned today hat Tommy died on November 18th. He was 56. He was battling some health issues, but I didn’t realize it had gotten that dire. He was a good man that I admired. I will miss him. I hopefully will get some more details tomorrow.