Feeling highly productive

Ted is a One Step Away vendor who is working to obtain his own housing, and can usually be found distributing One Step Away throughout Center City.

By Ted, One Step Away

I often get asked by people if I think selling newspapers has been helpful to me, or how it’s helped. Aside from getting some income, it has helped me with issues that I had struggled with in years past — issues that a lot of people face whether they’re put through financial hardship or not. It’s also given me an outlet to tell a few stories.

I hadn’t gotten the chance to write much of anything in years, and had forgotten that I could do it. In the seven years I’ve been on the street I had more experiences, negative and positive, than I could ever remember. So I really appreciate the chance to tell some of the ones that stood out, and what I took away with me. My writing has improved because of it.

I want to say that I appreciate having access to a forum where I can freely express myself and communicate ideas with others. I respect that the ideas that the writers share in this paper are distributed all over the city with little interference, and it gives us a chance to speak on issues that we are facing. In concept, the idea of freedom of the press was to prevent an overreaching government from interfering with citizens being able to peaceably express their opinions.

I get a chance to feel relatively productive through the day, and work on how to deal with people. Though I’ve had an extensive work and educational history, I was still able to sharpen skills that I’d had in dealing with the general public. Not everyone has that kind of a work history and for those that do not, it provides them with an opportunity to work on those skills. So I get to see some of the real inherent value of social programs like this and it makes me proud to participate every time I go out.

Finally, I get to see how I’d been distracted by the apparent financial disaster of my situation. I’ve learned that the problem of long-term homelessness or poverty deals more with the support network a person has rather than about how much money he or she makes. It’s somewhat like if you have a lot of money, it stands to reason that you will have a lot of “friends.” But they may be those fair-weather friends that would abandon you at any sign of a problem (not just financial).

What’s worse is that you never know until there actually is a problem and you need them. And so with me in the figurative low point in my life I get the chance to see who was really there for me, and hopefully make room for people who are.


One Step Away is Philadelphia's first newspaper produced by those without homes for those with homes.