The Courage of Our Convictions
The 470 Real Change supporters at our October 4th Breakfast gave a standing ovation this morning to the event’s closing speech, delivered by Real Change Director Timothy Harris. The 2011 Breakfast raised a record-breaking $102,165 to support our work.
Every year, when I stand up here, and look out upon this amazing community of supporters, I feel a bit overwhelmed. By the depth and breadth of our support, by the importance of what we do, and by the difference that we make.
These are very hard times, and what we do is so essential. Just a few weeks ago I asked at a vendor meeting who hadn’t worked a steady job for three years or more. More than half the room raised their hands.
We create the opportunity for our vendors to be valued, to be proud of what they do. There are people in their lives, lots of people, who affirm who they are. Who care that they exist.
That matters. It matters a lot.
A few weeks ago, I went to a memorial at Seward Park PCC. The Leaves of Remembrance Project was cementing an engraved bronze leaf onto the sidewalk that read “Robert Hansen, 1951-2010.”
I wonder how many people in this room knew Robert?
Robert had been a vendor since 1995. He loved people and people loved him back
And when he unexpectedly died, our community’s sense of loss took us all by surprise
So sixteen months later, there I was, standing with forty other people outside the Seward Park PCC on a Sunday morning, remembering this man that had so touched our lives.
There were two ministers. There were his friends from SHARE/WHEEL and his friends from Real Change. There were his friends from PCC and his friends from downtown. The City Attorney was there, and two City Councilors, who also live in Seward Park and shop at that PCC.
There wasn’t a person there to whom Robert, more than a year later, was not present.
This, this thing called Real Change, and the community that we create of it, is a tremendous gift.
We live in very mean times, and sometimes, it feels like we’re supposed to just get over it, and accept homelessness, and the human degradation that comes with it, as an unsurprising fact of life.
Last year, I’m not sure, I can’t keep up, the State Legislature changed the name of General Assistance
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