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the homeless grapevine is dead, long live the homeless


Daniel Thompson poem in the Homeless Grapevine
foto taken at Daniel Thompson’s funeral by Smith

The Homeless Grapevine is dead; long live the Homeless.

Cleveland poets are trying to raise $1,600 for a new issue of the newspaper the homeless give away to folks in return for donations. So far we have $600 donated by poet Larry Smith’s Bottom Dog Press, poet Mary Weems, poet Ben Gulyas, and poets Kathy and Steve Smith. That leaves the newspaper $1,000 short.

I can’t think of anyone better qualified to raise money to print the words of the homeless than the word loving poets of Cleveland; after all, if we don’t stand behind words for humanity, who will?

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) used to print The Homeless Grapevine four to six times a year which allowed the homeless to offer a newspaper in return for a donation rather than just asking for money. This lets every one retain a sense of dignity because it is a transaction rather than begging. Plus 40% of the articles in each issue are written by the homeless, which gives them a venue to showcase their story and us a place to learn more about our fellow human’s need.

Unfortunately NEOCH ran out of money last year and there hasn’t been an issue printed since August 2009. Even more unfortunate, some unauthorized folks tried to raise money using old papers which sullied the paper’s name.

So the Homeless Grapevine is no more. But they have plans for a new newspaper as well as some job training scheduled for the first of the year and would be willing to print an edition right away if they can raise the funds.

Since the old Grapevine name has been tarnished, the new paper will have a new name. Ben Gulyas has suggested calling it Let’s Face It, which I think is bodaciously excellent because it is time we faced our homeless problem here in Cleveland.

As Ben Gulyas says, “The address to send a check to is listed below. Again just specify on the check that it’s “for homeless newspaper,” and that will reserve that money for that purpose. So far the five of us, Kathy, Steven, Larry, Mary and myself we’ve got $600. Let’s keep it going!”

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH)
3631 Perkins Ave, #3A-3
3rd Floor
Cleveland, Oh 44114

You can also donate at http://www.networkforgood.org.

Here are the two emails from Brian Davis of NEOCH to Ben Gulyas in response to Ben’s inquiries.

Email #1:

Yes, the Grapevine has not published since August of 2009. We just have not had the money to publish. Yes, it would cost around $1,600 to publish one issue. NEOCH is the 501-c-3 charity to make donations to. The Grapevine never had its own charitable status. We would give out tax receipts to anyone that sends in donations to the Grapevine. We are working on a plan to tie the Grapevine to a job training program so that anyone who signs up to go through job training during the day could make some money in the late afternoon/evening to stay alive during their training. We don’t expect to start this until January 2011.

Finally, people can specify the Grapevine when donating through Network for Good, and those dollars are held until we decide what the future of the paper will be. We have talked about this for a while and since the Grapevine has not published for a year and some people are abusing the paper’s name by panhandling with old papers, we most likely start with a clean slate and a new name if we published again. We will try for a different business model to make sure that we can sustain the paper without the pedestrian traffic that we had in the past. When we started we had a rich pedestrian traffic downtown. That is no longer true so we have to look at other models for distribution.

Brian

Email #2″

If we get $1,600 then we can do an edition before we get our plans together, but as I said, we probably would call it something else. If we only get $1,000, we would have to contact the donors to ask what they want done with their donation.

I think that we can clarify on the front of the paper and in the media that we are changing directions, but still maintaining the concept. We still want a street newspaper distributed locally by homeless people with at least half of the text by homeless people. It is just that the name has been dragged through the mud with scammers using the paper to fundraise for themselves for the past year.

We would love to have volunteers. We actually just updated our website to provide ideas for volunteering in the homeless community: http://www.neoch.org/volunteerpage.htm and then here is a link if people want to directly serve homeless people http://www.neoch.org/volunteering_directservice.htm

Also, just to let you know we are doing a joint fundraiser with Catholic Charities in November to support the Coalition. We are having a chef from Sans Souci prepare a gourmet lunch for homeless people, and we are selling tickets in which individuals can pay for one of the meals. Everyone that supports one of the meals will be entered in a raffle for prizes. It is a nice way to support NEOCH and one of the programs that feeds homeless people every day. The website on this fundraiser will be up on Friday.

I agree with you about the one shot nature of raising dollars, and how it would be great to put something together long term. We were never good at getting advertising support for the paper to sustain it. We just did not have that skill here.

Thanks again for your interest and support.

To all the other poets: Thank you for thinking of the Grapevine and the vendors who sold the paper.

Brian


Daniel Thompson poem in the Homeless Grapevine – foto by Smith

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3 Responses to “the homeless grapevine is dead, long live the homeless”

  1. chris says:

    Gosh . I’m glad you posted this. I feel guilty and remiss in forgetting to do something with regard to helping with money.. since I live too far away to actually commit time.

    I’m reposting this. I’m wondering rather than soliciting funds whether it would be easier o sponsor an event and have that be the way to collect money for it? Like the Lost Boys poetry event? It might be easier than hounding people to contribute. And poets seem to like events…

  2. Lady says:

    Hi Chris,

    I tried to put together an event but the consensus was that the event would probably only raise a trickle of money. So we’re asking ppl directly. Still, I’m not averse to an event.

    I’m thinking about making little stump speeches whenever I go to a poetry event and putting out a can.

    xo

  3. Ben says:

    Hey there Chris, don’t worry about living too far away to commit time, just send a check– that’s easy and simple– certainly if people live too far away, and don’t have the time to commit, then how would they mangage to find the time to organize a reading, and then hope that lots of people show up who will give decent money? And if asking people to directly donate money is “hounding,” then in what possible sense would it not be even more hounding to ask them to take their evening and drive all the way to a reading to give money? If you mean to suggest that someone might not care to give money in support of a homeless newspaper unless they first had poets paraded before them, then I would have to say that the homeless was not their priority, rather their priority is their need to be entertained, or their craving to entertain, if poet they be, by reading their poetry to others– and well that doesn’t do a darn thing towards really getting a paper printed or helping the homeless–

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