It’s been too long since I’ve updated you on Anthony. Since then, he’s recovered from the strokes he suffered at the beginning of 2016 and seems to be doing well. His speech is still not back to what it was before the strokes, but he is working on it.
I have some other cool news about Anthony. He’s been working with Second Story Cards to put out a series of greeting cards. Full disclosure, I started Second Story Cards, a greeting card company that gives men and women experiencing homelessness an opportunity to tap into their creative side and make fun, and occasionally, irreverent greeting cards.
For Anthony, this means a great deal. While he’s able to earn money selling the Street Sense newspaper, he’s just barely able to pay his rent, buy groceries and pay for other incidentals. Additional income would help him ensure that he is able to keep his apartment, and hopefully, some day move into an apartment with a private kitchen and bathroom – right now he shares those facilities with approximately 22 other men who live in a communal housing building.
Anthony’s first cards are shown below. The website is not fully up and running yet, but email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you out. Cards are $5 each, or $20 for 5. Stay tuned for more of Anthony’s cards!
Pope Francis visited Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago. It was a historic occasion. I even got a glimpse of the papal icon as he zipped by me in his little Fiat on my way to work. You can barely make him out in the far backside of the car.
I thought that was pretty cool. When I told Anthony, he said, “I got to meet the Pope. He’s got soft and warm hands.” Yep, Anthony met the Pope at a luncheon that several homeless and formerly homeless men and women were invited to attend. Check out the photo he snapped from his phone and the article he wrote for Street Sense about the experience.
Anthony’s life changed on July 15, 2013 when he received the keys to an apartment in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. And while we celebrated that moment, we both knew that a hard road, possibly harder than the one we had just traveled, awaited us.
Recent numbers reported by David Berns of DC’s Department of Human Services show that 91% of people who were experiencing homelessness in the district and were rehoused remained in housing after one year. This gave me hope, but Anthony had been on and off the street for nearly 20 years. I was worried that he might be that one person out of ten that doesn’t make it.
My worrying though was for nothing. Anthony worked hard to stay housed and we celebrated his one year anniversary on July 14th at Rumors – a restaurant across the street from where he has sold the Street Sense newspaper for the past nine years. About 40 people – friends, supporters, employees of local businesses, etc – showed up to celebrate with him. He didn’t stop smiling all night.
Today, July 29th, is Anthony’s 57th birthday. My wish for him today is that he stays housed and celebrates many more birthdays. Happy birthday Anthony!
It was a little more than 18 months ago that Anthony and I were meeting at Au Bon Pain on 19th Street. It was one of our regular biweekly meetings that we have. I had asked him during the previous get-together to think about where he wanted to be in one year or five years. “Don’t answer me now,” I told him. “Think about it and we’ll talk about it when we meet next time.”
Two weeks went by. We sat down at our usual table; Anthony carefully accommodating the multiple bags of personal items that lugged around with him all day long. Before we had even taken the first bite of our lunch, Anthony said that he had been thinking about what we talked about the previous week.
It seems like last week we skipped straight to winter – at least you would have thought that based on last Thursday here in DC. The high just made it over 50 degrees and the wind chill canceled out any relief the occasional sun provided. I’m glad that my friend Anthony has a warm, secure place to sleep indoors this winter. Thank you for your help in helping him achieve his goal.
I met Anthony over lunch. Joining us this time was another friend Steve who lives two blocks from Anthony’s apartment. They’ve met a couple of times and I thought I’d extend an invitation to him to join us.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on Anthony and me. Anthony is doing great. He’s so happy to have his very own living space. Thank you to all of you who helped him in some way. From the financial donations to the care-packages to this amazing quilt that Joyce from Texas made especially for Anthony! It’s beautiful! He has it spread over his bed and uses it to cover up at night if he gets cool while watching tv.
Right now we are working on two new things for Anthony. First, we are looking for an adult literacy class for him to join. As a result of dropping out of Continue reading →
I’m not celebrating just yet, but we got some amazing news this week. Through a lot of hard work from Elizabeth, the outreach worker that we have been working with, it looks like Anthony will receive his very own set of keys to his apartment next Monday!!!
Sadly I am not in the US to celebrate with him…I am in Bolivia on a business trip. I called him yesterday via and he was so excited and thankful for the hard work, kindness and support so many have offered to him.
He went on Monday to check out the apartment. “It’s got a really nice bed,” he told me. Thoughts of him no longer sleeping on the damp unforgiving pavement made my voice smile back at him.
I have to admit though – I am a bit worried about this transition. This will be a tremendous change for Anthony. I need to find out if they have services available to help homeless individuals deal with moving back indoors. I am certainly not the best option to give him support in that area.
Anyway…I will have more news at the latest by early next week! I hope that I will be able to go with him and watch him receive his keys.
So, Anthony gets out of the hospital, we go get him checked out by his physician later that week and then we meet with Elizabeth, the rockstar social outreach worker we have been working with to help get him housing.
Elizabeth had great news. Anthony has passed the basic qualification requirements for housing. And not just any housing. Now I haven’t seen it yet, but it sounds like an amazing opportunity for my friend. It’s a single room – so he doesn’t have to share it with others – which is important to Anthony. Next, it’s in Columbia Heights! For those of you who are not familiar with DC this is a great neighborhood with excellent access to public transportation.
We’ve heard a lot about service and volunteering this weekend with the MLK Service Weekend. I volunteered with a great local DC group called Yachad – they help rebuild low-income housing in our nation’s capital. As I write up my blog I regret not having invited Anthony to come along with me to volunteer. I think he would have enjoyed it.
Anthony volunteers a lot of his time. Not in the conventional sense of volunteering once a week with a hospital or signing up for a national day of service, rather Anthony takes time every day to help people on the streets of DC. From providing directions to tourists who he encounters staring blankly at a DC map to new Street SenseContinue reading →
Happy New Year! Although that sentence is beginning to fade from our conversations, it is very symbolic to Anthony and me. This is a new year and with that comes a new opportunity to achieve our goals.
I met up with my friend Anthony on Tuesday of this week for our regularly scheduled check-in. I arrived at our now familiar corner a few minutes late but Anthony was nowhere to be found. I even went into the Au Bon Pan where he sometimes goes to give his legs a break and warm up over a cup of coffee. But he wasn’t there. Outside again I started to give him a call and then saw the bright yellow vest far down 19th Street.
We wished each other a happy new year as we gave one another a big hug. It had been a couple of weeks since I had seen Anthony. He promptly gave me a business card of someone he wanted me to call for him. I disappeared into the Au Bon Pan again to find a quiet place to use the phone.
When I got back, Anthony had sold a couple of papers and we walked over to the Qdoba Mexican Grill that is on M Street. “I’m getting quesadillas,” he grinned as we walked up to the counter. I got the chicken burrito. I tried to buy Anthony’s meal but the manager smiled at me and said that his lunch was on the house. Anthony is an integral part of the community around 19th and M and several of the establishments take good care of him.
I got my notebook out as I finished my lunch to start reviewing our progress. I had disappointing news for Anthony. I hadn’t followed up on most of my to do list. I kind of shut down over the holidays. He went easy on me though – well, maybe that was because he too hadn’t done any of his homework either! We chalked these minor rebuffs up to the holidays.
We got refocused and committed ourselves to getting back on track.
Before we wrapped up, I gave Anthony a package that I received for him from Kipp and Christine from Pennsylvania. They bought him the thermal underwear he wanted! He was so happy!!! “You’ve got no idea how cold it can get being outside in the cold all day and all night,” he said pausing to really inspect the clothes. “These are really nice. You tell Mr. Kipp and Ms. Christine that I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
We said goodbye and I watched him walk back to his corner to sell more papers. As he headed west on M Street, he pulled the thermals out of his bag one more time to give them another look.