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!
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.
I had to run some errands on Friday so I decided to take the car and go by Anthony’s corner to see if he was there. As I drove on M Street I spotted his familiar bright yellow vest from a few hundred feet away.
I pulled the car over, probably in some illegal spot, and called over to him. His eyes darted in every direction looking for where the calls were coming from and then he saw my extended hand out the window, beckoning to him.
“Merry Christmas my friend,” he said with the jovial spirit of a true santa clause. He handed me the latest edition of Street Sense and I gave him a five dollar bill. I explained that I was worried about him because I couldn’t reach him on his phone. He told me that his minutes were all used up for the month on the phone that he receives through a government subsidy. “You gotta have a phone,” he says referring to the world we live in today.
He gave me the number to prepaid phone that he uses when the other one is out of minutes. “This one is working now and at the end of the month I will switch it back to the number you’ve been trying to reach me at.”
I was relieved I had found him and that he was ok. He told me he was going to find an inexpensive motel or something in Virginia and spend a night or two indoors to celebrate the holidays. I want to get him something…still thinking about ideas. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
I have done no writing this week. With holiday soirees, last minute shopping and end of year work boiling over – I have had to scrap all writing this week. And on top of all this, I can’t find Anthnony.
I’ve been calling his cell phone but he doesn’t answer. On Tuesday and Wednesday his phone rang but he didn’t pick up. Then yesterday it just went straight to a message where it said, “The cellular subscriber you are trying to reach is not available.” I just called his number again. Same thing.
I’m going to head down to his corner and see if I can find him. It’s cold out there…hopefully he is ok.