Friday, November 27, 2015

POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2015, 2:35 PM
A still from the film "Time Out of Mind" directed by Oren Moverman, and starring Richard Gere and Jena Malone. (IFC Films)

I was struck immediately by the realism of “Time Out Of Mind.” It is blindingly accurate about the conditions, troubles, and the delusional behavior that accompany homelessness. It was an amazing journey for Richard Gere during which he experienced the streets of New York like he never experienced them before. Gere is a well-known actor, but there’s a scene in which he’s standing on a street corner in Manhattan begging for change and nobody recognizes him. They walked past him like they would any other homeless or shabby-looking individual.

Watching the movie could be slightly traumatizing to anyone who’s been through homelessness or very inspiring to anyone who has never been through this or seen anything like this. I think it should be required viewing for anyone who has aspirations for helping the homeless or who wishes to reach out to anyone who needs this kind of help.

The one thing that stood out to me about the character is that he was at a point in his life where he didn’t feel that he needed any help. He had to be convinced that he needed help by somebody who had already been in the shelter. He figured he could pull himself out, but he was going backwards, he was getting backwards. I myself had to learn how to ask for help because I didn’t know — like him, I had no idea of what to do, how to survive, and eventually some veterans helped me out.  

Jeff Greene @ 2:35 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 5:19 PM
Actor Richard Gere (center) talks with One Step Away vendor Jerry Tucker (left) and One Step Away director Emily Taylor about the experience of homelessness. “I think these guys are the heroes, they’re the survivors,” Gere said of those who have experienced homelessness. (Photo by Ashley Gearhart Donovan)

On Sept. 17, iconic actor Richard Gere and director Oren Moverman visited Philadelphia to promote their new movie “Time Out Of Mind,” an indie film in which Gere movingly plays George, a man experiencing homelessness and grappling with his existence in a world that has seemingly discarded him.

“It is blindingly accurate about the conditions, troubles, and the delusional behavior that accompanies homelessness,” said formerly homeless One Step Away vendor Jeff Greene in a review of the film that appears in the October edition of the newspaper.

It’s a project close to Gere’s heart, as a passionate advocate for homeless causes, a member of the New York Coalition for the Homeless, and a supporter of the street newspaper movement. 

POSTED: Friday, September 11, 2015, 9:30 AM
In addition to the hands-on training and cuddling of animals, Hand2Paw volunteers do meaningful humane education. (Photo by Ashley LaBonde of Wide Eyed Studios)

In 2013, things weren’t going so well for Jerome. He had been in and out of homelessness for about two years. He was living at Covenant House’s Rites of Passage facility in Kensington but having trouble keeping a job. Looking for direction and to make some connection, Jerome attended a Hand2Paw volunteer session and never looked back. The experience delivered the direction and connection he was seeking and changed his life.

Hand2Paw started in 2009 when Rachel Cohen, a Penn student, came up with an idea that would connect two underserved groups – homeless teenagers (who frequently are seen on the streets clinging to their pets) and shelter animals, desperately in need of more care and attention than shelters have the staff to provide. Each year, over two million young people ages 18 to 21 face a period of homelessness. Those aging out of foster care without a permanent placement face a daunting 25 percent risk of homelessness. Many of the youth who participate in Hand2Paw ended up at the shelter because they aged out of the foster care system without ever being adopted or placed in any type of permanent, stable situation. Others fled abusive homes. Still others were kicked out of their homes for revealing a sexual identity that caused controversy in the family. These youth are all considered “at risk.” They are at risk of continued homelessness, unemployment, unplanned pregnancies, and just falling through the cracks.

At the same time, the number of homeless pets is astonishing. Six to eight million animals enter shelters in the United States each year and only about half make it out alive. The Philadelphia animal control shelter takes in about 30,000 animals every year, with about a 70 percent live release rate, so roughly 9,000 animals are euthanized each year in just that one shelter. In addition, dog fighting is prevalent in many cities, and Philadelphia is no exception. The victims of cruelty and fighting are brought to shelters to recover and hopefully get a second chance. Most animal shelters are run entirely with charitable dollars or limited municipal funding so frequently all they can do is provide the minimum of care. That’s where Hand2Paw comes in.

Penny Ellison @ 9:30 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, August 28, 2015, 9:43 AM
Brian sold his first newspaper for One Step Away on Valentine’s Day 2011. He’s been working with the paper ever since. (Photo by Ted Goldman)

So you come out of a situation that gave you a heavy setback, trying to do what you need to do to get by. So now what?

You might not like how that sounds, but you do have to look into things to know how it’s going down. Then touch every ground, all home bases. Keep it simple, you know, just the basics. Notice that if you stay focused then you’ll be going places. Around people of all races, still building to keep moving forward.

This is not a competition, we on a mission for living. So who it be to settle a score with? So now what? On to the next thing. Do your best and stay away from the madness plus foolishness. Who knows what a day can bring? Try to get it all together, and that’s when you’ll see how to be doing things. So now what?

Brian @ 9:43 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, August 14, 2015, 5:00 AM
In a grassy area alongside the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a dweller displays a sign in preparation for Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Philadelphia. The Parkway is a convening spot for many Philadelphians experiencing homelessness. (Photo by One Step Away Staff)

In preparation for Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) on Saturday, Sept. 26th and Sunday, Sept, 27th, the city’s Archbishop, Charles J. Chaput, has created a committee to uphold the rights and dignity of those experiencing homelessness.

That weekend, Philadelphia will experience a massive influx of people which will be disruptive for anyone in or near Center City, housed or not. But for Philadelphians experiencing homelessness, that weekend could be especially troublesome.

The WMOF Hunger and Homelessness Committee’s principal concern is to ensure that Philadelphians living on the streets are not adversely affected by security measures, by the limited transportation, or by the overwhelming crowds during the events of the pope’s visit.

Ethan Cohen @ 5:00 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, August 12, 2015, 1:20 PM
Fair & Square, opened in 2013 in Chester, Pennsylvania, is America's first nonprofit grocery store. (Photo by Brett Molar)

In June, Tesco, the largest chain of grocery stores in the United Kingdom, announced it would donate all of its unsold food to charity in an effort to reduce waste.

In a statistical analysis of its own practices, the company revealed that it threw away 55,400 tons of food in the past 12 months, 30,000 tons of which was completely edible.

Tesco will now be donating its unspoiled food to women’s refuges, homeless shelters, and breakfast kitchens for disadvantaged children.

POSTED: Thursday, July 30, 2015, 3:39 PM
Charles is a One Step Away vendor who has recently attained his own housing and can usually be found distributing the newspaper in Center City. (Photo by Ted Goldman)

Hello, everybody. It’s an honor to be able to talk to you all again. I hope you’re all keeping yourselves cool and try not to complain too much about the heat. For we all know too well that the warm weather certainly will not be with us for long, and the cold weather will be back before you know it. But for right now let’s try to appreciate and enjoy the sunshine and its warmth while we have it.

One of the most frustrating things about being a vendor of a homeless paper is running into people who think they already know everything about being homeless based solely on what they have read and what they may have been told by the media.

As I go out and sell copies of One Step Away, my primary goal is to sell as many copies as I can and hopefully obtain as much money as I can. After all it is what I do for a living until further notice. But I also feel that it’s my responsibility to educate people about homelessness and clear up some people’s perceptions of homelessness as well. As you can imagine it’s not always easy.

Charles @ 3:39 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, July 16, 2015, 5:04 PM
Stanley Sturgis, a graduate of the Journey of Hope programs, is now employed with the Mental health Association of South Eastern PA as a recovery coach and outreach worker. He has now been clean and sober for six years. (Photo by Timothy Sheahan)

Ending homelessness is about people. But it’s also about systems and giving people choices. Ending homelessness does not have a one-size-fits-all solution because people experiencing homelessness have that challenge for so many diverse reasons.

One person may have lost employment; others have illnesses and challenges with members of their family. A person may have few long-term connections or relationships to a community because of being raised in foster care. Others have traumatic experiences occur, and the supports are just not available to assist in recovery.

Whatever the reason, our community’s goal is for homelessness to be rare, brief, and non-recurring in anyone’s lifetime. A primary theme of Philadelphia’s behavioral health services, overseen by the Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services, is to build services that are unique for each person.

About this blog
One Step Away is Philadelphia's street newspaper, produced and distributed by people experiencing homelessness. To donate, go to Reach One at

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