This week's blog is not about my usual topic of improving your image to help you open new doors in your career. It's about something a little different. For those who live here in Nashville, you've probably seen several individuals selling newspapers on street corners for $1. These are individuals who happen to be part of the 4,000 homeless people in a city that has over 1,000 highly-attended churches. If you've never stopped to purchase a newspaper from one of these incredible people, I encourage you to do so. The Contributor includes some very eye-opening and inspirational stories, many written by some of the people selling the paper. Yes, even though these individuals may be homeless, they are working. This is is their job, to write and sell these stories. And they are out there working hard at this job so they can get their lives back on track, often in extreme temperatures and while sometimes being subjected to insults from disrespectful motorists.
I bought my first copy of The Contributor from a man who was working the stoplight at Music Row near the round-about. He chatted with me while the light remained red for the average two minutes and I asked him how he was fairing in the heat (we've had several weeks where the heat index here in Nashville has been over 100 degrees). He told me how the day before he got so hot he started seeing spots and almost passed out. At that time I wished I had at least a bottle of water for him instead of just four quarters from my change purse and hoped for an unlikely break in the heat for him. But he wasn't complaining. He was so friendly and seemed so happy to be working this job despite the heat. I could tell he took pride in his job and was happy that someone stopped to not only buy a paper from him but also to talk with him and ask him how he was doing, even if it was for just one red light.
The Contributor is a monthly publication, and in the August issue there were both stories of progress being made to help the homeless, and stories of continual struggles affecting the homeless. Stories of how the homeless are taking responsibility for their situation by working hard to do what they are able to do to better their situation, and stories of how the privileged are taking responsibility for how they can do their part to assist the homeless in getting back on their feet. Poems and short stories by homeless writers, and stories about poems from a little girl that encouraged one newspaper salesman to not give up on his job just when he was about to. Facts about newspaper salesmen/vendors' rights to sell these papers on the street, and statistics of hate crimes against the homeless (an unprotected category of hate crime victims). There are even stories of homeless individuals who have fallen in love with each other and have married, and memorials for those homeless who have recently passed.
This was my first time buying and reading The Contributor, but it won't be my last. You can actually purchase a subscription of the The Contributor, but I think I'm going to buy it in person each month from one of the many who is out there working hard so they will know their hard work is not in vain. And maybe get to enjoy another nice chat again. I encourage you to do the same...it only takes the time (approximately two minutes) that you're already spending sitting at one red light in downtown Nashville.