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Where the poor and homeless July 7 - 20, 2010

July 7-20, 2010

earn and give their two cents Volume 7 Issue 18


65 cents for the Vendor

35 cents for Production of the Paper

The Food Issue: Bringing Food to the Desert

Stamping Out Hunger at the White House Market Page 6

From Crafts to Kalimbas Page 10

Giant Food Brings Giant Opportunities to Southeast Pages 4-5


July 7-20, 2010

Our Mission

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Street Sense aims to serve as a vehicle for elevating voices and public debate on issues relating to poverty while also creating economic opportunities for people who are experiencing homelessness in our community.

Do you want to continue to support Street Sense throughout the year? Order a subscription today! Not only will you receive 26 issues packed with all our latest news, poetry and photography, you will also help raise awareness about poverty in the D.C. area.

___ YES! I want to subscribe to Street Sense for just $40 a year for 26 issues. ___ YES! I want to give half of the cost of a subscription to my favorite vendor: ______________________________ Name:_________________________ Address:_______________________ City:____________State:__________ Zip: ___________________________ Phone: ________________________ E-mail: ________________________ Please make checks payable to: Street Sense. Mail to: Street Sense, 1317 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20005.

The Story of Street Sense Street Sense began in August 2003 after two volunteers, Laura Thompson Osuri and Ted Henson, approached the National Coalition for the Homeless on separate occasions about starting a street newspaper in Washington, D.C. A street paper is defined as a newspaper about poverty, homelessness and other social issues that provides an income to the homeless individuals who sell it. About 28 street papers operate in the United States and Canada in places like Seattle, Chicago, Montreal and Boston, and dozens more exist throughout the world. After bringing together a core of dedicated volunteers and vendors, Street Sense came out with its first issue in November 2003, printing 5,000 copies. For the next three years the paper published on a monthly basis and greatly expanded its circulation and vendor network. For the first year, Street Sense operated as a project of the National Coalition for the Homeless, but in October 2004, the organization incorporated and moved into its own office space. In March 2005, Street Sense received 501(c)3 status, becoming a nonprofit organization. In October 2005 Street Sense formed a full board of directors, and in November the organization hired its first employee, a full-time executive director. A year later in November 2006, the organization hired its first vendor coordinator and began partnering with several service providers. In February 2007, the paper started publishing twice a month and to support the increased production brought on its first full-time editor– in–chief in April. As of January 2010 the paper had 72 active vendors and prints about 30,000 issues a month.

Vendor Code of Conduct 1. Street Sense will be distributed for a voluntary donation of $1. I agree not to ask for more than a dollar or solicit donations for Street Sense by any other means. 2. I will only purchase the paper from Street Sense staff and will not sell papers to other vendors (outside of the office volunteers). 3. I agree to treat all others – customers, staff, other vendors – respectfully, and I will not “hard sell,” threaten or pressure customers. 4. I agree to stay off private property when selling Street Sense. 5. I understand that I am not a legal employee of Street Sense but a contracted worker responsible for my own well–being and income. 6. I agree to sell no additional goods or products when selling the paper. 7. I will not sell Street Sense under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 8. I agree to stay a block away from another vendor and respect the space of all vendors. 9. I understand that my badge is the property of Street Sense and will not deface it. I will present my badge when purchasing the papers and display my badge and wear my vest when selling papers. 10. I understand that Street Sense strives to be a paper that covers homelessness and poverty issues while providing a source of income for the homeless. I will try to help in this effort and spread the word.

1317 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20005 Phone: (202) 347–2006 Fax: (202) 347–2166 BOARD OF DIRECTORS Lisa Estrada Ted Henson Brad Scriber Michael Stoops Manas Mohaptra Sommer Mathis Kristal DeKleer Robin Heller Jeffery McNeil Jordan Rummel John Snellgrove Dameon Philpotts

We are proud members of:

North American Street Newspaper Association

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Abby Strunk EDITOR–IN–CHIEF International Mary Otto Network of ONLINE/MULTIMEDIA EDITOR Street Papers Lisa V. Gillespie INTERNS Mary Yost, Jon Howell, Eric Falquero, Mary Jean Chan, Adam Sirgany, Cathy Bueker FOUNDERS Ted Henson, Laura Thompson Osuri VOLUNTEERS/WRITERS Robert Basler, Robert Blair, Sarah Birnie, Jane Cave, Robert Fulton, Steve Gilberg, Jane Goforth, Joanne Goodwin, Roberta Haber, Erica Hall, Annie Hill, Dan Horner, Phillip Hoying, Maurice King, Brenda K. Lee-Wilson, Kim O’Connor, Gabriel Okolski, Michael O’Neill, Katinka Podmanickzy, Lisa Razzi, Diane Rusignola, Willie Schatz, Jesse Smith, Sara Kruger, Jamilin Williams, Marian Wiseman

VENDORS Charles Armstrong, Jake Ashford, Lawrence Autry, Daniel Ball, Donna Barber, Cyril Belk, Kenneth Belkosky, Tommy Bennett, Phillip Black, Reginald Black, Emily Bowe, Andre Brinson, Melody Byrd, Cliff Carle, Percy Carter, Peggy Cash, Conrad Cheek, Virginia Clegg, Aaron Conner, Anthony Crawford, Louise Davenport, Charles Davis, James Davis, David Denny, Ricardo Dickerson, Muriel Dixon, Alvin Dixon-El, Roger Dove, Charles Eatmon, Deanna Elder, Richard Embden, James Featherson, Craig Fleming, Samuel Fullwood, Roger Garner, David Ger, Barron Hall, Dwight Harris, John Harrison, Patricia Henry, Shakaye Henry, Phillip Howard, James Hughes, Richard Hutson, Margaret Jenkins, Carlton Johnson, Donald Johnson, Alicia Jones, Mark Jones, Clinton Kilpatrick, Hope Lasister, Brenda Lee-Wilson, Michael Lyons, Jonnie Malloy, Kina Mathis, John Matthews, John C. Matthews, Charlie Mayfield, Herman Mayse, Robert McCray, Marvin McFadden, Jermale McKnight, Jennifer McLaughlin, Jeffery McNeil, Kenneth Middleton, L. Morrow, Tyrone Murray, Charles Nelson, Sammy Ngatiri, Evelyn Nnam, Moyo Onibuje, Franklin Payne, Edward Perry, Gregory Phillips, Tracey Powell, Ash-Shaheed Rabbil, Ed Ross, Melania Scott, Chris Shaw, Ronald Simms, Veda Simpson, Gwynette Smith, Patty Smith, Franklin Sterling, Warren Stevens, James Stewart, Garland Stroman, Leroy Studevant, Beverly Sutton, Sybil Taylor, Paul Taylor, Steve Thomas, Larissa Thompson, Deborah Tibbs, Carl Turner, Christopher Walker, Jeanette Walker, Joseph Walker, Martin Walker, Robert Warren, Lawless Watson, Paul Watson, Gregory Wells, Michael Welsh, Edna Williams, Wendell Williams, Susan Wilshusen, Ivory Wilson, Charles Woods, Tina Wright

S treetS Department of Labor Awards $5 Million to Help Homeless Veterans More than $5 million in grants have been awarded to various organizations that help homeless female veterans and veterans with families, the Labor Department announced and The Washington Examiner reported. “Millions of hard-working, responsible families are at risk of losing their homes as a result of job losses, reductions in working hours and lower wages," said Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis during a teleconference. "And probably no other segment of our population is more vulnerable to homelessness than our veterans, and more recently and importantly, female veterans." The grants will be distributed to 26 organizations in 14 states, in addition to the District of Columbia.

Former NBA Player Now Homeless Ray Williams’ story of a life of riches to homelessness illustrates that homelessness can happen to anybody. Williams, one-time New York Knicks captain and reserve guard for the Boston Celtics, now lives in a 1992 Buick, The Boston Globe reports. Williams’ homelessness was not the result of over-the-top spending of his NBA salary or even poor investments. It was just a result of a combination of bad breaks. For example, Williams received a grant from the NBA Legends Foundation, which helps retired players who are struggling with their finances, but he lost it when he used it on the security deposit on a condo. The owner of the condo died and the money was lost, the Globe reports. Williams played for more than 10 NBA teams during his career before he retired in 1987.

July 7-20, 2010

Arizona Shelter Cuts Back Hours, Services A homeless shelter in Flagstaff, Ariz., is trimming its hours and services as the result of budget crunches, the Arizona Daily Sun reports. Flagstaff Shelter Services has already had to close its general overnight beds for the summer, Todd Sherman, director of Flagstaff Shelter Services, told the Daily Sun. In order to have enough cash on hand for overnight winter services, the facility has had to go from being open seven days a week during the summer for day services to just two days a week. Hours have also reduced. The shelter did not receive the additional grant funding it had been hoping to receive, Sherman told the newspaper. "As with every competitive grant process, there are winners ... and we didn't receive any," Sherman said. A series of fundraisers are set up to help the facility reinstate many of its services and hours during the winter. On average, the shelter needs about $22,000 to $25,000 a month to stay open in the winter.

Number of Homeless in Kentucky Grows Between 2009 and 2010, the number of homeless in Kentucky rose from 5,999 to 6,623, a change of 10.4 percent, The Ledger Independent reports. The number of people who are considered “precariously housed,” or individuals whose housing is uncertain during a seven-day period, ballooned by 31 percent. The study was conducted by the Kentucky Housing Corporation as part of an annual report.


Immigrants From Other EU Countries Boost London’s Homeless Tally About 25 percent of London’s homeless individuals are recent arrivals from other European Union states, the Guardian UK reports. According to a database of homeless in the UK, there were 2,500 homeless individuals on the streets three years ago. Now, there are about 4,000 people registered in the database. The main factor, according to the Guardian, is the 1.5 million migrants from neighboring EU nations who fell down on the their luck upon arrival. London is taking action to curtail homelessness on the streets by “reconnecting” individuals with their families. Beginning in June 2007, more than 1,000 Europeans were taken to their nations of origin, at taxpayer cost. About 130 homeless individuals were reconnected with their families last year.

American Housing Trends Revealed by HUD National Survey Most families with young children live within a mile of a public elementary school. The most common home heating fuel in the United States is gas. Only one-third of American homes have a working carbon monoxide detector. These are just some of the findings of a comprehensive national sample of the more than 130 million residential housing units released on July 1 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. First conducted in 1973, the survey has been designed to allow analysts to trace the characteristics of U.S. housing units and their occupants over the long term. Compiled by Dianna Heitz, from previously published reports.


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July 7-20, 2010

Grocer Welcomed by Hungry Shoppers

By Adam Sirgany, intern Just a few blocks from the Congress Heights Metro in Southeast, D.C., a large parking lot opens before a Giant Food supermarket. Two men emerge and one jokes to the other that as hot as it is, he just may shop all day. Inside, customers look at boxes of cereal and granola, milk and cheese. A line of shoppers has formed at every cash register, but in the air-conditioned environment, no one seems to mind a brief wait. Three years ago, this area would have been described as a “food desert,” or an area where healthy and affordable food is difficult to access or inaccessible. The phrase may conjure thoughts of problems of developing nations, but a food desert is an American predicament, affecting people locally and nationwide. A food desert is not altogether devoid of food. Rather, such areas tend to be dotted by fast-food establishments, liquor stores and regional or ethnic restaurants that may serve heavily salted, sugared and fatty foods. In a food desert, there is often enough total food in caloric terms, yet, due to a lack of affordable fruits, vegetables and healthy grains, there is not enough food to accommodate the community nutritionally. The ironic result of a food desert is that these communities reflect both high levels of hunger and abnormally high rates of obesity and heart disease. According to D.C. Hunger Solutions, a nonprofit agency that specializes in nutrition and health issues in the District, Wards 7 and 8 have the highest rates of poverty and obesity and house only seven of the

District’s 43 full-service grocery stores. A lack of healthy food is a problem that affects many people. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, 12 percent of Washington, D.C. households were “food insecure”—regularly running out of food or simply not knowing where the next meal will come from—from 2006 to 2008. Another report from the Food Research and Action Center said that 40.6 percent of D.C. households with children experienced food hardship in 2009. U.S. Census Bureau worker Lynda Laughlin wrote in an article for the online magazine Greater Washington that “Wards 2 and 3 have 16 grocery stores. That’s one store for every 8,911 residents. Ward 4 is the most populated ward (about 75,000 people) but only has one grocery store. There are only three grocery stores east of the river for residents of Wards 7 and 8. That’s one store for every 47,151 residents. Communities with large populations in poverty or large minority populations have poor access to grocery stores.” “There is a clear grocery gap in Washington, D.C., and low-income residents bear the brunt of this gap,” said Alexandra Ashbrook, executive director of D.C. Hunger Solutions, in the report When Healthy Food Is Out of Reach. “For families that are struggling with low wages, not having access to grocers impacts both their wallets and their health. Families whose budgets are already stretched to the limits don’t have the extra money to pay for additional transportation costs or higher prices.”

Continue on page 5

PHOTOs by jOn HOwell

Giant Supermarket changes food landscape in Southeast

Above, a Giant employee checks the parking lot for stray shopping carts at Congress Heights Giant on Alabama Street, SE.

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July 7-20, 2010

The ironic result of a food desert is that these communities reflect both high levels of hunger and abnormally high rates of obesity and heart disease.

The entrance to the new Giant in Ward 8 provides a haven of food in a previously barren food landscape.

Healthy foods with appropriate nutrient contents, particularly in these areas, can be expensive. So consumers, often working with tight budgets, tend to select comparatively cheap and filling, though unhealthy, food choices such as fast food, potato chips, white breads and heavily sugared juices. Frozen produce is typically purchased. Consequently, many residents of food deserts experience hunger and can show signs of malnutrition, such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating and lethargy. Overall, their diets can lead to obesity and related health problems. While many Washingtonians continue to struggle with food access, residents of Congress Heights have seen large improvements in the last two-and-a-half years. “Before, there was only one grocery store. I don’t have to go all the way to Maryland anymore to get groceries,” said one customer of the Congress Heights Giant. Jamie Miller of Giant’s public affairs department said the company “realized that [southeast D.C.] was an underserved community, and from a business standpoint, [Giant] realized that there was an

[We] used to have to go all the way to the top of the hill. And the little convenience stores charge entirely too much. -Miss Pearson

opportunity.” Prior to the store’s opening in December 2007, area residents had limited options to purchase groceries. The Giant at Congress Heights is helping to change this. “[The Giant] helps a whole lot,” said Miss Pearson, a local school crossing guard. “[We] used to have to go all the way to the top of the hill. And the little convenience stores charge entirely too much. The [Giant] is very convenient.” “When it comes to fruits and veggies, it’s great. The salad bar and everything is just great,” said resident Lula Evans. Before the Giant store opened, few stores in the area would have been described in this way. Before the supermarket opened, locals shopped at a Safeway grocery store a mile-anda-half up Alabama Avenue. But some, particularly those living on the western side of Congress Heights, found the distance to the Safeway difficult to traverse. The Giant’s proximity and perks have made shopping experiences not only easier, but generally more positive for residents. “I haven’t been to the Safeway since [the Giant] got here,” said customer Gloria Johnson. “Most of my friends are the same way. It’s easy. I can walk [there]. And they’ve got courtesy rides that’ll take you if you don’t have a car.” Other shoppers agree. “It’s very convenient. I’m very pleased to have it in the neighborhood,” said M.K. Banks, Capital Heights resident and native Washingtonian. “I think it’s been a real blessing to have a Giant this close,” said Cheryl Chadwick, resident and member of D.C. Metropolitan Foster and Adoptive Parent Association (DCMFAPA), a nonprofit organization that engages in support, training and education for foster parenthood in the D.C. area. “It used to be that you had to take transit if you lived on this end of Alabama Avenue.” Chadwick emphasized

the importance of the Giant for her own organization and the community as a whole. “They’re good about community outreach, too,” she noted. She said that it is not uncommon for groups like DCMFAPA to be found tabling outside the Giant, as the store is supportive of a number of local improvement groups and nonprofit organizations. The support offered by a supermarket is not limited to its support for community causes. In 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked grocery stores among America’s largest industries. Grocery stores hire large numbers of youth; 15.9 percent of their employees are ages 16-19, and another 13.5 percent are ages 20-24. Part- or full-time jobs as stockers, baggers and cashiers give many youths their first real job experience. The Giant at 1535 Alabama Ave. hired about 200 employees when it opened. Of these employees, around 90 percent were from Ward 8. That translates to around 180 jobs provided directly to the community. The workers are bustling and energetic. One employee wittily encourages two others. A woman in an apron and a Giant baseball cap busily replaces cookies in the bakery area. A man pushing a large dolly stops his work to give a customer directions to the restroom; seeing the customer again, he checks to make sure the customer found it. Teenage boys restock shelves with neat rows of cereal and spaghetti sauce.

A Better Future There is hope that other areas of Wards 7 and 8 will soon see similar improvements in food access. Yes! Organic Market is opening its first store east of the Anacostia River at 2321 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E. in August, providing the area with its largest and most extensive organic market to date. Michelle Obama has taken note of the challenging issue of food deserts locally and nationally and has made their eradication a key component of “Let’s Move,” her initiative for healthy children. In February, Obama appeared on FOX news and said, “We have to eliminate food deserts. One of the goals of Let’s Move is to eliminate food deserts in seven years.” Obama emphasized that 23.5 million Americans currently live in areas with limited access to healthy food choices. Her proposed initiative includes $400 million in funding to address food deserts and bring healthier foods to America, especially its children.



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July 7-20, 2010

Market Takes Food Stamps to a New Level

Eating healthy with local food stamps is now easier at the White House By Cathy Bueker, intern Citizens with meager means cannot live on Doritos alone. Freshfarm has come to the rescue with a new farmers’ market which is not simply in your average D.C. food desert, but in the heart of the city: a block from the White House. A local-food advocate working in the name of nutrition, sustainability and taste, Freshfarm opened its first market in Dupont Circle in 1997. Adding markets at a rate of nearly one per year, Freshfarm established this post at 810 Vermont Ave. in 2009. The White House market is also part of a growing movement to enable recipients of federal supplemental food benefits to make purchases at farmers’ markets. Here, not only can one use EBT Food Stamps, WIC “Get Fresh” checks and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Coupons to pay for a purchase, but Freshfarm will match it up to $10 each week as part of its Double Dollars incentive.The offer is not going unused. “In the past hour we’ve had five people,” said Carmen Wong, a Freshfarm volunteer. She added that as the market began at 3 p.m., she expects the rate to increase, especially for the last hour, when most people would be off work. Customers tell volunteers at the Freshfarm tent, between the Gunpowder Bison and Keswick Creamery tents, how much they want to spend, then are given tokens of an equivalent amount which can be used at the tents of Toigo, Endless Summer and Blueberry Hill farms. Ms. Wong described one mother, “She’ll come with her $10 of coupons, then we double that, and she plans her weekly menu around her purchases here.” For newer customers, she will usually ask them what they are interested in buying, then guide them around the market to show them what their options are.

The location, within view of the White House and all its tourists, is uncannily located. Since coming to Washington, First Lady Michelle Obama took the lead role in an administration wide initiative of promoting a healthy diet and exercise for all Americans, especially to combat childhood obesity. She planted the first White House vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s, started the “Let’s Move!” program and worked with chefs who emphasize food that is healthy, local and sustainable. The Obamas’ personal chef Sam Kass is interviewing with CNN, a bald man in chef’s whites. A woman, one of the dozens of Golden Triangle businessfolk browsing, calls out to her friend, “How much are they? Oh, how much are those peaches?” in the same disbelieving, joking tone of voice one might use to a shopping buddy when saying, “Those shoes are what percentage off? For real? Uh-uh, we’re getting these, oh yes we are.” He tells her what a steal these supple, succulent peaches are, adding, “Man, I can’t stand hard fruit; just get rid of it. That’s the American in me. I don’t want it. Just throw it away.” In addition to the produce, vendors here are offering such finished foods as breads and salsas. A man at a stand offers samples of radical sorbets, like Vodka Mint Pea and Lemon Opal Basil. Sam Kass is still around. The interview is over and he’s practicing what he preaches, standing in line with a bag of vegetables at the Endless Summer tent. Inching over to look at the apples near him, he talks to one of the CNN producers. “I’m a little cautious of playing the expert,” he confides. Nearby at Spring Valley, a man in a blue striped shirt and brown slacks murmurs in wonder to himself, “Squash blossoms...”

People buy okra with food stamps at the White House Farmers’ Market, one of many produce items. Photo by Jon Howell.

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July 7-20, 2010

My Food Comes from Where?


School gardens teach students about their food’s origins and provide lessons in responsibility By Mary Yost, editorial intern change their eating habits. “Children are not born craving McDonald’s,” Anna said. “If they grow and learn about healthy foods, they will eat them.” “You can change a 5-year-old student much easier than you can change a 55-year-old adult,” Leupo said. Eating home-grown foods also teaches students about the value of achieving goals. “Once students are exposed to gardens and the benefits of the food that is grown there, they will find that they have more energy and aren’t tired right away after they eat,” Leupo said. “Once they see what they can grow food, they will also believe that eating healthy is attainable.” School gardens also teach students about the importance of being an engaged citizen. “The kids are always excited about watering Jewell and Sovereignty Waldron check the tomatoes the students grew at the school garden and want to be the first to do it,” at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier, Md. Photo taken by Jon Howell. Anna said. Gardens are a place where young farmers and schools so that students can develop a deeper minds can learn about social responsibility.“They are learnunderstanding of where their food originates. To learn more ing that if I want a garden to grow, I have to weed it,” Leupo on how to create a school garden, contact Leupo via http:// said. The students’ knowledge is transcending the classroom as they apply it to their out-of-classroom experiences. “We went on a field trip to the botanical gardens and the kids saw cilantro and immediately knew what it was,” Anna said. “They can identify plants, fruits and vegetables outside the garden.” The school garden at Joe’s Movement Emporium seeks to continue educating their students about environmental issues -Ms. Anna associated with gardening. “In the future, we want to focus on Native Americans and their experience with agriculture,” Anna said. “Agriculture was a huge part of their lives. We plan on growing the ‘princely three’ native foods: corn, squash and beans.” The benefit of incorporating a garden curriculum into students’ lives is vital to the health of children’s futures. “We are taking children’s lives away from them by feeding them processed foods,” Leupo said. “Even if adults don’t want to change, they should do it for their children. We should know better. Do it for Angel, who’s learning about basil. When she’s an adult, she will want to cook with tomatoes and basil because she learned about those foods when she was a kid.” Planting Progress serves as an outlet where teachers can post their thoughts on how to provide garden-based learning experiences for students. It is hoped that it Sovereignty admires the leaves of her and her classmates’ tomato plants. will encourage interactions between local Photo by Jon Howell.

A mom and her daughter walk out the back door of Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier, Md., at the end of a school day. “These peppers look delicious,” Jewell Waldron said. “We can’t eat those yet,” said Sovereignty, her daughter. “Why can’t we pick these peppers?” “Because they are green and they need to turn yellow before we can pick them.” These conversations are not uncommon at the garden maintained by homeschooled students at the Emporium. The children are excited to learn about growing fruits and vegetables, said Ms. Anna, the program’s director. “A garden gives students a chance for hands-on learning where they get to create,” Anna said. “Because we live in an urban city, we don’t have a community where you see vegetables growing on every corner.” Jennifer Leupo, the creator of the Web site Planting Progress, worked with Anna to establish the school garden at the beginning of May. Children in low-income areas may not be as familiar with healthy foods as other students because of the high costs and lack of access to these foods. “One of the biggest problems we have is the large amounts of processed foods that people have access to,” Leupo said. “These foods are high in sodium and sugar, none of which are good for our bodies. They are also subsidized so they are cheap to buy. It is easier to get a bag of Doritos than to buy a salad.” Consuming high-calorie and low-nutrition foods is detrimental to children. “People are going to find that their kids will live shorter life spans than they did,” Leupo said. Therefore, it is necessary to begin teaching children healthy eating habits while they are in school. This can be done by creating a school garden. It is important to target children because they are apt to

Children are not born craving McDonald’s. If they grow and learn about healthy foods, they will eat them.


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July 7-20, 2010

The Beauty of Fresh Produce A photo essay of the Dupont Farmers’ Market by Jane Cave.

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July 7-20, 2010



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July 7-20, 2010

Energy is the Currency in Eastern Market By David Denny, vendor Eastern Market is the most interesting hub in the metropolitan area. Its unique meat, produce and flea market treasures create an ambience that keeps happy patrons coming back again and again. The market, which has been around since 1873, consists of a menagerie of independent and individual vendors who come together to make this atmosphere addictive. There is a bubble machine that will transform the most indifferent child into all smiles. The melodic sounds emanating from the saxophone, kalimba and bongo keep most patrons swaying and bouncing. The Street Sense vendor is an integral part of this festive gathering. Patrons and other vendors alike look forward to getting a Street Sense newspaper and often ask, “Did you write something in this issue?� Some of the vendor artists have incredible skills. From the painters to the aluminum molders, the talent is astonishing. Do yourself a favor and visit the Eastern Market to pick up a Street Sense newspaper from your favorite vendor! [smile]

Photos by Jon Howell

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July 7-20, 2010


Revitalize to privatize? Critics say Obama’s public housing plan needs rewiring By Cydney Gillis, Real Change In the past 15 years, more than 150,000 units of publicly owned low-income housing have been torn down across the United States. Most of the remaining 1.2 million units, built in the ’50s and ’60s, are sorely in need of repairs, something the Obama Administration has proposed fixing by letting housing authorities borrow money from private banks. The idea has raised hackles among public-housing tenants who say that, far from saving the nation’s low-income units in the long run, Obama’s fix would subject government-owned properties to foreclosure and put 30-year “use agreements” on public housing that would lead to mass sell-offs when they expire. The plan is in legislation called the Preservation, Enhancement and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act (PETRA) of 2010, a $350 million proposal that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) introduced in Congress last month. PETRA would allow public housing authorities to do something they cannot do now: mortgage or take out private loans on public property. The money would be used to start fixing an estimated national backlog of $20 billion to $30 billion in repairs that has grown over time due to federal underfunding and will, HUD said, only lead to more demolition if left unchecked. PETRA would allow owners of public or private HUDsubsidized housing to do something else that worries tenants: raise their rent levels, on paper, to market rate, and in some cases, 10 percent more than market rate. Tenants would still pay only 30 percent of their income in rent under the proposal, but the federal government would make up the rest in increased subsidies to a building to gener-

ate enough cash flow to attract loans, as long as Congress keeps funding PETRA. The legislation also puts no cap on how much interest a bank can charge. “It’s going to mean a necessary increase in HUD subsidies,” said Rick Harrison, one of two Seattle Housing Authority tenants invited to give HUD input on the bill in Washington, D.C., earlier this year. “If down the road, they lose their subsidies or there’s a cutback in them and they’ve borrowed money based on the higher income, they’re going to be a world of hurt.” In a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on May 25, Chairman Barney Frank and Rep. Maxine Waters grilled HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan about the possibility of privatization. But even in foreclosure, David Lipsetz, a HUD senior policy advisor, said June 18 in a phone conference with housing advocates in Seattle, D.C. and New York, that PETRA’s 30-year use agreements would ensure the number of units and rent remain the same if a private owner were to acquire a bankrupt property. In the here and now, said Linda Couch, deputy director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, (NLIHC) there is nothing to stop the continued hemorrhaging of public housing, which is one reason the coalition is working to make changes in the bill. The bill is expected to undergo major revisions before Frank’s committee takes it up again, she said. The NLIHC and the National Alliance of HUD Tenants want to see a requirement that repairs be made to the buildings borrowed against, which is something that is not in the bill now, Couch said. They also want a guarantee of permanent affordability. And, “We believe there should be no use agreement whatsoever in the PETRA bill,” said Judy Montanez, a board member with the HUD tenant group.

For public housing authorities, whose mission it is to provide lowincome rentals, the privatization issue is “a bit of a red herring,” said Bob Watson, deputy director of the King County Housing Authority (KCHA). Most lenders, he said, don’t want to foreclose on properties with covenants. If Congress app r ov e s t h e $ 3 5 0 million in funding for phase one of PETRA, Lipsetz said the new subsidies should facilitate loans and upgrades for 280,000 units in fiscal year 2011. Few of them would be in Seattle. HUD considers KCHA and the Seattle Housing Authority high-performing agencies that are allowed to sell tax credits to private investors. As a result, SHA has already redeveloped or refurbished most of its properties, entering them into private partnerships that relinquish ownership after 15 years. “It’s going to mean a necessary increase in HUD subsidies,” said local tenant Rick Harrison, but if housing authorities “they lose their subsidies or there’s a cutback… they’re going to be a world of hurt.” Originally published by Real Change. ©

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July 7-20, 2010

Homeless Individuals Can Access Food Stamps By Ray Avrutis, volunteer You can get food stamps if you live on the streets and do not have a mailing address. If you live in a shelter, bring a letter from a shelter employee that says you live there when you apply for food stamps. In D.C., call 211 to find the closest food stamp office. You can receive food stamps even if you live in a shelter that provides you with meals. You cannot be denied just because you do not have a photo ID; a work or school badge is sufficient. The food stamps worker can also check your identity by calling a shelter employee. Some shelters that require payment for your meals accept food stamps as payment. Homeless young people can apply for food stamps on their own. The income of your parents does not count if you live in a shelter. Unless you are 60 or older or disabled, you must register for work to receive food stamps in D.C. However, you do not “work off” your food stamps benefits by working in the city at minimum wage, as some states require. You will be denied food stamps if you quit your job and were denied unemployment insurance because you quit without “good cause.” It is important to ensure that the information you give when you apply is correct. If you receive food stamps based on inaccurate information, you will have to pay them back. A one-person household may earn up to $1,174 a month in gross income and still be eligible for food stamps. If you are 60

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By Lisa Razzi, USDA intern

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income households or older or disabled, you are eligible if you with electronic benefits that can be used as cash at most grocery stores. SNAP began with the earn up to $1,490 a month in gross income. Food Stamp Plan in 1939 to help needy families during the Great Depression. The program Bigger families have larger net and gross expanded dramatically after 1974 when Congress required all states to offer food stamps to income limits: you may have up to $2,000 low-income households. in household assets ($3,000 if a Quick Facts: household member is 60 or older -The USDA administers SNAP through its Food and Nutrition Services. or disabled), such a s c a s h i n t h e -SNAP helped put food on the table for 31 million people per month in 2009. bank. -The average monthly benefit was about $101 per person and about $227 per household in F o o d s t a m p 2008. benefits for a one-Households can use SNAP benefits to buy foods, such as breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, person household range from $16 to seeds and plants, meat and dairy producs. $200 per month. -Households cannot use SNAP benefits to buy beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, tobacco, any If eligible, you will nonfood items or hot foods. receive an lectronic -The average gross monthly income per SNAP household is $673. Benefits Transfer card that is deb- -Fifty-two percent of SNAP households include children. ited automatically -Forty-nine percent of all participants are children (18 or younger), and 61 percent of them each month until live in single-parent households. you recertify or experience changes in your household’s in- The USDA’s toll-free number for questions on eligibility is 800-221-5689. For more information on SNAP or any of the FNS’s 15 nutrition assistance programs, contact the FNS Comcome. If you have less than $150 in cash and munications Staff at 703-305-2286 or assets, you will receive your determination within seven days. All other applicants should receive their determinations within 30 days. Benefits begin on the day that you apply. You may also file for a free appeal if you believe that you were illegally denied. For more information on eligibility requirements or how to apply for food stamps, visit the D.C. Hunger Solutions website at: foodstamps/food_stamps.htm.


Food Stamp Facts in a SNAP

Foundry United Methodist Church

1500 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 20036 (202) 332-4010

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July 7-20, 2010

The Government Has Got the Goods By Lisa Razzi, USDA intern The federal government kicked off its second annual “Feds Feed Families� food drive on Monday, June 21. The Office of Personnel Management, which is leading the efforts, is partnering with a variety of federal agencies and departments, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to encourage federal employees to donate non-perishable food items to the drive. This year, the USDA has expanded its version of the drive to include “farmers and friends,� adding a focus on fresh, locally grown produce. The drive will continue through August 31. Collections will occur on the last weekday of each month, and donations from the D.C. area will be delivered to the Capital Area Food Bank. CAFB is the largest nonprofit hunger and nutrition education resource in the National Capital Region. It distributes 23 million pounds of food annually to more than 383,000 people through par tner agencies. Its central food pantries are in Washington, D.C., and Lorton, Va. CAFB reports that calls to its Hunger Lifeline have increased 71 percent between 2008 and 2009, an indication of the ever-increasing need in the area. The 2010 food drive is a nationwide effort, so the USDA is encouraging its field offices across the country to participate by donating to a local food bank. To ensure that fresh produce is included in this effort, the USDA requests donations from community gardens and farmers’ markets as well as the USDA’s own People’s Garden. Fresh produce will be picked up each Friday and delivered to the D.C. Central Kitchen. Furthermore, as healthy eating is a focus of this food drive, an emphasis has been placed on donating healthy food items and items high in protein. The food drive began as a response to President Obama’s United We Serve Act, a call to Americans to contribute to the nation’s economic recovery by serving in their communities. The act, signed in June 2009, encouraged a summer dedicated to volunteerism and community service focused on

four key areas: energy and the environment, education, health and community renewal. The USDA has taken the opportunity that the food drive presents to tie in its own goals of promoting nutrition and healthy families. “Feds, Farmers and Friends Feed Families� comes at a key time of year as contributions to food banks across the country decrease during the summer months and school nutrition programs come to an end. According to a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, from 2006 to 2008, more than 641,000 Washington-area residents— one in six—are at risk of being hungry. The economic difficulties that the United States continues to experience have placed a huge burden on many families. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack noted in a memo to the USDA on June 22, “While the needs of our hungry neighbors are especially great in the summer months, our opportunity to make a difference in their lives is also great.� Last summer, federal employees around the country donated more than 1 million pounds of nonperishable goods and daily essentials for those in need. The new goal for 2010 across the federal government is 1.2 million pounds of nonperishable items. Each week of the food drive has a different theme, such as soups and stews and sources of protein. The entire schedule is listed below. Community participation is welcomed, and the USDA hopes to partner with D.C.-area businesses as “friends� of the food drive.

July 26 – Ready-to-eat foods for people who do not have access to a can opener or kitchen. August 2 – Proteins, such as canned tuna, salmon, chicken, peanut butter and nuts. August 9 – “Make It a Meal� items, including grains and condiments. August 30 – The final push!

If you are interested in participating, please contact Rhonda Brown, FaithBased and Neighborhood Partnerships Outreach Coordinator with USDA Rural Development, at 202-692-0295 or via email at


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July 7-20, 2010

Heat and Homelessness: Not a Good Combination

Larissa Thompson


By Jami-Lin WIlliams, volunteer When I first came here in D.C. a few weeks ago, related illnesses increases. There are three main categories of heat-relatI had trouble breathing. The combination of heat and humidity produced the sensation of being ed illnesses: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and completely submerged underwater. Uncomfort- heatstroke. Though unpleasant, heat cramps and able and beginning to panic, I estimated how exhaustion can be treated easily by resting in a much it would cost to buy a one-way ticket back cool, shady place and drinking plenty of fluids. home. A summer transplant from Maine, with Alcohol and caffeine, which can be dehydrating, its abundance of forests, lakes and cool nights, should be avoided. Applying cold compresses or I have managed for most of my life to avoid the even a damp towel can provide immediate relief extreme heat. Even on the hottest of days, I have and comfort. When left untreated, however, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke, the most always been able to go for an afternoon run. Upon my arrival in the District, however, it serious heat-related illness. During heatstroke, became clear that if I was even going to do so the brain loses its ability to regulate body temmuch as leave the house, I would need to de- perature. An individual suffering from heatstroke velop a strategy for dealing with the smothering will have stopped sweating and will be reddish and warm to the heat of the city. After allowtouch. This condiing some time for my body What can you do to help? tion is a medical to adapt to the weather and emergency that acquiring some light, looseNo one can completely avoid the summer can result in death fitting clothing, I began to heat, but by being smart we can help each and 911 should feel less like a pot of boiling other out and avoid dangerous risks to our be contacted as water and more like a human health. quickly as possibeing. I moved my daily runs to 6 a.m, avoided the peak One of the biggest and most immediate ble. Older adults, sun hours (11:00 a.m. to 3:00 ways to provide relief is to hand out frozen young children p.m.), and researched simple, water bottles or, even better, frozen sports and overweight inresourceful ways to stay cool. drinks. These can be used for hydration as dividuals are those most at risk, but I realized that with nearly all well as general cooling. we are all suscepof my day spent in an airconditioned home or office, I Bandanas, hats and battery-operated per- tible to experienchave it pretty easy. sonal fans are also helpful donations. If you ing a heat illness Whether you spend all or are homeless or unable to afford cooling each time we step none of your time out of the measures like air-conditioning, there are a outside. It is relatively direct heat, you can ben- few things you can do to stay safe and comeasy to prevent efit from understanding the fortable. heat illness if you health risks and knowing what to do to stay safe. HowGet out of the sun, whether that means have access to a ever dramatic my response finding a shady park, a shopping mall or a fan, cold beverages and shade, but it’s to the D.C. climate may have big-box retail store. been, the dangers of exposure For a few dollars, you can access a public far more difficult * to high heat are all too real. pool where you’ll find shade, cool water and to stay cool and healthy if you are Apart from making us feel a shower. one of more than tired, sweaty and irritable, prolonged exposure to the Try to wear lightweight, light-colored 6,500 homeless heat can be extremely serious. clothing that will reflect the sun’s rays, and persons living in When we sweat profusely, we protect your face and eyes with a wide- D.C. The District will be implelose water faster than we can brimmed hat. menting a Street replace it, leaving our bodies dehydrated and unable Make sure to drink plenty of water so you Showers program to function optimally. Sweat can help your body cool itself the natural at various sites also contains minerals such way and replace lost electrolytes through around the city as well as openas sodium and potassium, as sports drinks, fruits and salty snacks. ing four Cooling well as lactate, urea and a few Centers, but these will only be open from 12 to 6 other trace elements. The minerals found in sweat are referred to p.m. when the temperature reaches 95 degrees or as electrolytes, which are crucial to maintaining higher. While these measures are valuable, homeblood pH, keeping the body properly hydrated less individuals are left without a place to stay and regulating nerve and muscle function. We cool on all of those days when the temperature is need electrolytes as badly as we need water to in the low 90s and the air is thick with moisture, stay alive. When too much water and electrolytes which are days when it is still very easy to come are lost due to heat exposure, our risk for heat- down with a heat-related illness.




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Vendor Not Sheepish Asking for Help By Mary Yost, intern Larissa Thompson was born on April 21, 1968, in Utica, a town in New York’s countryside. She grew up in Erie, Pa, where she attended elementary, middle and high school. She then continued her education at J.H. Thompson College where she received a degree in massage therapy in 1995. Thompson became interested in massage therapy in her early childhood. “Since I was little my mom had bad psychiatric problems,” Thompson said, “so I would rub her feet, which would help her feel better. If I can help people, why not do so?” Thompson opened her own massage therapy business named Essence of the Moon in Erie, where she focused on aromatherapy. Her business’ success encouraged Thompson to take a vacation to England because she enjoys exploring other cultures. There, Thompson discovered that she had the rare cancerous disease Von Hippel-Lindau. The cancer created three tumors in her head, which were removed. She now has to wear sunglasses because the light damages her retinas. Despite the challenges that accompany this sickness, Thompson is optimistic and said, “I do not dwell on my sickness. I like to try and help others if I can.” Thompson stayed in England for more than four years and was eventually taken in a helicopter to a hospice in Erie, where she stayed only for one day before leaving for Tampa, Fla. Thomp-

son found herself homeless upon returning to the United States because she could not pay her rent, as she had no income source. She went to Tampa in the hope of finding a job but, after one month of having no work, she decided to relocate to Washington, D.C. “I don’t want to live off the government,” Thompson said, “but it’s hard to find a job once people find out that you are homeless.” She describes herself in a catch-22 situation. While walking in the streets of the District, Thompson passed a Street Sense vendor who said, “Would you like to help the homeless?” She responded, “I am homeless.” The vendor replied, “Would you like a job?” Thompson was interested and began selling for Street Sense on Feb. 1, 2010. Thompson uses her helper, Lamb Chop, to market the paper for her. In five years, Thompson hopes to be able to donate to Street Sense. “If I end up on my feet, I want to donate to Street Sense because they helped me out when I needed it. In five years I hope to be living comfortably and to also be able to donate to other homeless individuals.” In her free time, Thompson enjoys doing Sudoku and crossword puzzles because they keep her mind working. She is also a vegan and loves eating peas, brussels sprout and broccoli. “The Diary of Anne Frank” is her favorite book because she is amazed at what the Jewish community went through during World War II. Finally, Thompson’s favorite movie is “Lassie.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. SHELTER Calvary Women’s Services 110 Maryland Ave, NE (202) 289-0596 (office) (202) 289-2111 (shelter)

Central Union Mission (Men) 1350 R Street, NW (202) 745–7118 CCNV (Men and Women) 425 2nd Street, NW (202) 393–1909 Community of Hope (Family) 1413 Girard Street, NW (202) 232–7356 Covenant House Washington (Youth) 2001 Mississippi Ave SE (202) 610–9600 Housing, education, job prep

July 7-20, 2010 Thrive DC (breakfast Mon-Fri, 9:30-11, all welcome/dinner for women and children, Mon-Fri, 3-6 pm) St. Stephens Parish Church 1525 Newton St, NW (202) 737–9311 Food and Friends 219 Riggs Road, NE (202) 269–2277 Miriam’s Kitchen 2401 Virginia Avenue, NW (202) 452–8089 The Welcome Table Church of the Epiphany 1317 G Street, NW (202) 347–2635 ministry/welcometbl.htm

MEDICAL RESOURCES Christ House 1717 Columbia Road, NW (202) 328–1100

John Young Center (Women) 119 D Street, NW (202) 639–8469 www,

Unity Health Care, Inc. 3020 14th Street, NW (202) 745–4300

My Sister’s Place PO Box 29596 Washington, DC 20017 office (202) 529-5261 24-hour hotline (202)-529-5991 shelter and other services for domestic violence victims

Whitman–Walker Clinic 1407 S Street, NW (202) 797–3500;

N Street Village (Women) 1333 N Street, NW (202) 939–2060 801 East, St. Elizabeths Hospital (Men) 2700 MLK Avenue, SE (202) 561–4014 New York Ave Shelter (Men 18+) 1355–57 New York Avenue, NE (202) 832–2359 Open Door Shelter (Women) 425 Mitch Snyder Place, NW (202) 639–8093

FOOD Charlie’s Place 1830 Connecticut Avenue, NW (202) 232–3066 Church of the Pilgrims (Sundays only) 2201 P Street, NW (202) 387–6612

OUTREACH CENTERS Bread for the City 1525 Seventh Street, NW (202) 265–2400 AND 1640 Good Hope Road, SE (202) 561–8587 food pantry, clothing, legal and social services, medical clinic Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place 4713 Wisconsin Avenue NW (202) 364–1419; housing, medical and psych care, substance abuse and job counseling Bethany Women’s Center 1333 N Street, NW (202) 939–2060 meals, hygiene, laundry, social activities, substance abuse treatment Father McKenna Center 19 Eye Street, NW (202) 842–1112 Green Door (202) 464–9200 1221 Taylor Street NW housing, job training, supportive mental health services Friendship House 619 D Street, SE (202) 675–9050 counseling, mentoring, education, youth services, clothing Georgetown Ministry Center 1041 Wisconsin Avenue, NW (202) 338–8301 www.georgetownministrycenter. org laundry, counseling, psych care Martha’s Table 2114 14th Street, NW (202) 328–6608 dinner, education, recreation, clothing, child/family services Rachel’s Women’s Center 1222 11th Street, NW (202) 682–1005 php hygiene, laundry, lunch, phone and mail, clothing, social events Sasha Bruce Youthwork 741 8th Street, SE (202) 675–9340 counseling, housing, family services So Others Might Eat (SOME) 71 “O” Street, NW (202) 797–8806; lunch, medical and dental, job and housing counseling

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Academy of Hope GED Center 601 Edgewood St NE 202-269-6623 Bright Beginnings Inc. 128 M Street NW, Suite 150 (202) 842–9090 Child care, family services Catholic Community Services 924 G Street, NW (202) 772–4300 www.ccs– umbrella for a variety of services D.C. Coalition for the Homeless 1234 Massachusetts Avenue, NW (202) 347–8870; housing, substance abuse treatment, employment assistance DC Food Finder Interactive online map of free and low cost resources. Community Family Life Services

305 E Street, NW (202) 347–0511 housing, job and substance abuse counseling, clothes closet Foundry Methodist Church 1500 16th Street, NW (202) 332–4010 ESL, lunch, clothing, IDs Gospel Rescue Ministries drug, alcohol program (Men) 810 5th Street, NW (202) 842–1731; Hermano Pedro Day Center 3211 Sacred Heart Way, NW (202) 332–2874 http://www.ccs– meals, hygiene, laundry, clothing JHP, Inc. 1526 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE (202) 544–9126 training and employment Jubilee Jobs 1640 Columbia Road, NW (202) 667–8970 job preparation and placement National Coalition for the Homeless 2201 P Street, NW (202) 462–4822 activists, speakers bureau National Student Partnerships (NSP) 128 M Street NW, Suite 320 (202) 289–2525 Job resource and referral agency Samaritan Ministry 1345 U Street, SE , AND 1516 Hamilton Street, NW (202)889–7702 HIV support, employment, drug/ alcohol addiction, healthcare St. Luke’s Episcopal Church 1514 15th Street, NW (202) 667–4394 food, counseling St. Matthew’s Cathedral 1725 Rhode Island Avenue, NW (202) 347–3215 ext. 552 breakfast, clothing, hygiene Travelers Aid, Union Station 50 Massachusetts Avenue, NE (202) 371–1937 emergency travel assistance

Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless 1200 U Street, NW (202) 328–5500

WVSA Literacy for Life 1100 16th Street, NW (202) 296-9100 GED preparation and work force education

MARYLAND SHELTER Interfaith Works 114 W. Montgomery Avenue Rockville (301) 762–8682 The Samaritan Group Inc. P.O. Box 934, Chestertown (443) 480–3564 Warm Night Shelter 311 68th Place, Seat Pleasant (301) 499–2319

FOOD Bethesda Cares 7728 Woodmont Avenue Bethesda (301) 907–9244 Community Place Café 311 68th Place, Seat Pleasant (301) 499–2319; Manna Food Center 614–618 Lofstrand Lane, Rockville (301) 424–1130

MEDICAL RESOURCES Community Clinic, Inc. 8210 Colonial Lane Silver Spring (301) 585–1250 Mobile Medical Care, Inc. 9309 Old Georgetown Road Bethesda (301) 493–2400

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Catholic Charities, Maryland 12247 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring (301) 942–1790 shelter, substance abuse treatment, variety of other services Mission of Love 6180 Old Central Avenue, Capitol Heights


(301)333–4440 life skills classes, clothing, housewares Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless 600–B East Gude Drive, Rockville (301) 217–0314; emergency shelter, transitional housing, and supportive services

VIRGINIA SHELTER Alexandria Community Shelter 2355 B-Mill Road, Alexandria (703) 838–4239 Carpenter’s Shelter 930 N. Henry Street, Alexandria (703) 548–7500 The Arlington–Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless 3103 9th Road, North, Arlington (703) 525–7177

FOOD ALIVE!, Inc. 2723 King Street, Alexandria (703) 836–2723 www.alive– Our Daily Bread 10777 Main Street #320, Fairfax (703) 273–8829 www.our–daily–

MEDICAL RESOURCES Arlington Free Clinic 2921 11th Street South Arlington (703) 979–1400

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Abundant Life Christian Outreach, 5154 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria (703) 823–4100 www.anchor–of– food, clothing, youth development, and medicines David’s Place Day Shelter 930 North Henry Street, Alexandria (703) 548–7500 laundry, shower, workshops, hy-

Shelter Hotline: 1–800–535-7252

July 7-20, 2010

THE LAST WORD: Saving Graces By Jeffery McNeil, vendor I became homeless in September 2006. It happened in Toms River, N.J., a suburban town in Ocean County, which is far-removed from the big East Coast cities that have the most resources to help those who are homeless, struggling with addictions and mentally illness. I was having trouble taking care of myself because of bipolar and attention deficit disorders. I hit rock bottom a few times, and I had trouble locating services. In Atlantic City, N.J., I had my first experience with shelters and faith-based programs. The shelters I encountered still give me nightmares. They put everyone in the same place, whether they were sick or violent. Then there were the elderly and mentally ill, who had no other place to go. If you were homeless, the saving grace for eating decently in south Jersey, was an elderly lady named Jean Webster, also known as Sister Jean. She began helping the poor back in 1986. She was on her way

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to her job as a chef at the a local casino when she saw a homeless man eating out of a garbage can. She bought him some food right then and there at the Pizza King. Later, she took him home and cooked him a hot meal. It disturbed her that in America there were people eating out of trash cans. She decided to find homeless people and feed them hot meals. Soon she started making hot meals for the poor in Atlantic City. Her program got so big that there were people wrapped up for blocks waiting in line for a meal at Sister Jean’s. She would feed you all-you-can-eat fried chicken, sea bass and banana pudding. Locally, YSOP, a meal and fellowship program based at the Church of the Epiphany on G Street NW like Street Sense, is on par to Sister Jean’s. Miriam’s Kitchen and SOME, which not only serve food, but also provide mental health and social services. It has been awhile since I waited in a soup line. One day I would like to give back because, if it wasn’t fo r a soup line, I might right now, be eating out of a garbage can.

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