Real Change's Homeless Speakers' Bureau
Speaker Profile: Dr. Wes Browning
A history of abuse and homelessness led to Wes Browning’s passion for the issues that Real Change addresses. He has been involved with Real Change since he supplied the art for the first cover in November of 1994. On the Editorial Committee, he writes for the paper, including a regular humor column. He works part-time at the vendor desk, selling papers to vendors, and is a member of the Real Change Board of Directors.
Wes was born in 1949. He was severely abused as a child by both parents. As an escape, Wes buried himself in books. In 1979 he achieved a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Cornell University. But the childhood abuse continued to have an effect, and he began to experience severe symptoms of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder. The illness resulted in homelessness in the eighties, but Wes has also been homeless on other occasions simply as a result of poverty and the whims of property developers and company layoffs. Wes is glad to talk about those experiences, as well as the childhood abuse he went through, because he believes in the necessity of education to end injustice. He also believes that no cause ever advanced far without a sense of humor.
“In my years writing for Real Change, I have struggled to find humor in the pain of homelessness,” he writes. “Humor is an act of survival.”
You can read more of Dr. Wes’ writing in his weekly column in Real Change, Adventures in Irony, or in his blog, at: http://www.drwesb.blogspot.com
Speaker Profile: Anitra Freeman
Anitra Freeman was a computer programmer-analyst for 20 years before becoming homeless at the end of a long depression due to untreated bipolar disorder. She became active in Real Change and in Seattle’s homeless organizing groups SHARE and WHEEL at that time, and has remained active even after moving into housing. She is “retired early” on Social Security, due to disability, but remains highly active in her volunteer work, which includes editing and writing for Real Change Newspaper, teaching writing and computer skills to homeless and low-income adults, and helping to organize shelters and emergency survival services as well as long-range empowerment and social change projects. Besides public speaking, Anitra actively works on public education about homelessness through writing for other publications and through the Internet, where she has published several websites for nonprofit grassroots organizing groups.
Anitra has been a member of the Board of Directors for SHARE, homeless and formerly homeless men and women organizing their own emergency survival services; for the Low Income Housing Institute, a multimillion-dollar nonprofit organization building affordable housing; and for the North American Street Newspaper Association (NASNA), a network of street papers across the United States and Canada. She has been invited to speak everywhere from kindergarten classes to national conferences. Her breadth of experience with homeless issues and the groups working on them makes her a unique resource.
About Real Change
Real Change exists to provide opportunity and a voice for low-income and homeless people while taking action for economic justice.(Read more...)