PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Fox 29's Bill Anderson has done several stories showing the dark side of the struggles of being homeless, including previously shadowing people selling a local paper that helps those in need. Today he took it a step further and actually experienced selling papers himself to show that we all need to open up and be supportive, for goodness sake
“We’re putting out our money, investing our time and our money, but some people look at what we’re doing as if we’re begging or panhandling,” said Zachery Caldwell, a One Step Away vendor.
Several weeks ago, I shared the story of the newspaper One Step Away. I shadowed a formerly homeless vendor as she sold the paper that allows those in need to start a low-cost business. Today was their annual event where they ask business people and media to come experience what they deal with first hand.
I was partnered with Zachary, who has been a One Step Away vendor for four years. The goal was to set up across from each other and sell as many of our papers as we could. It started off as a fun competition between us but reality sunk in quickly.
Not only did the overwhelming majority of people ignore Zachary but I also got to experience, obviously to a lesser extent, how chilly people can be to you when they stereotype you immediately.
I didn’t experience the blatant disrespect that Zachary and other One Step Away vendors experienced, largely because I was wearing my station jacket and was somewhat recognizable.
But I did get to understand what I believe was the point of the exercise, to learn that many who regularly encourage people to pick themselves up and work for a living are far from supportive when they try.
At the end of the day, I sold all 25 of the papers that I was given in about an hour. Zachary says he had a good day as well and it was time to head back to speak to the other vendors and get their take on the lessons of the day.
“Today was an eye opening experience because these are respected people in the community and today when they were out there in that vest they got treated the same way I do,” said Tammy Karuza, One Step Away vendor.
Guest vendor Bill Arrowood said, “In the city, I think we forget that if someone says 'hello' it's OK to just turn back and say 'hello' to them."
“Just giving a dollar to someone and getting a newspaper, something to read, I think that’s the least that we can do. If they’re willing to do their part we should be willing to do our part," Broderick Green, One Step Away guest vendor.
One Step Away is giving people a chance to improve their lives but that will only happen if we can look past the judgment and extend a hand up to people willing to work hard for that opportunity. For Goodness Sake, I'm Bill Anderson.