As a loyal supporter of our mission and the empowerment work that we seek to realize, it gives me great pleasure to describe to you the recent successes that the Homeless Empowerment Project and Spare Change News have enjoyed.
Over the course of the past six months, we have accomplished several important milestones. For instance:
• We expanded the geographical territory of Spare Change—offering new possibilities for job creation, economic opportunity, and the development of self-esteem—to the city of Worcester. As of October 2010, we began publishing a Spare Change News, Worcester Edition, with four pages of content exclusive to that region of the Commonwealth. Our efforts have been featured in the mainstream press, including in the Worcester Telegram-Gazette, on New England Cable News, and on WBUR’s Radio Boston (stories can be accessed at www.sparechangenews.net/press).
• We embarked on a collaboration with the Center for Future Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, resulting in the Homeless Neighbors Project. The initiative links community members with Spare Change vendors, creating solidarity towards empowerment and the eradication of social problems and stigma. With the vendor profile pages that we host on our website, the unique interaction between vendors and customers is replicated virtually, and a space in which supporters can make a real difference in the lives of individuals in their communities is opened. For more information, click www.sparechangenews.net/vendors.
• We have re-invigorated our Speakers’ Bureau program, which coordinates public speaking engagements for currently and formerly homeless and low-income men and women. Through the Speakers’ Bureau, persons who have experienced economic disadvantage can tell their stories and earn income—both of which generate the effect of empowerment. We are currently also unrolling a collaboration with AmeriCorps VISTA members to expand opportunities for speakers in the Bureau.
• We have redoubled our efforts towards recruitment and training of vendors, for example by printing materials to disseminate information about our vendor program, by engaging in conversations with key staff members at area service provision agencies, and by creating a vendor training video, which is currently underway.
• We invested in new products to raise our visibility in the community, namely Spare Change News t-shirts and 2011 calendars. We have offered this merchandise for sale at local events such as Harvard Square’s Oktoberfest and our own Vendor Appreciation Picnic in August, meanwhile giving away many shirts and calendars as donations to those who could not afford them.
[img_assist|nid=384|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=640|height=257]Despite the myriad activities of the Homeless Empowerment Project of late—some of which have enabled us to diversify our funding stream—we still rely on your support. This fall, your contribution to HEP will help us to underwrite major operational expenses, our empowerment programs themselves, and future projects such as the production of a “Best Of” issue of Spare Change. As a sign of our gratitude, for a contribution of $50 or more, we will send you a complimentary 2011 Spare Change News calendar.
You can contribute to the 2010 Fall Appeal here, by clicking on the “ChipIn” link on the www.sparechangenews.net homepage. I thank you for your continued support.
David J. Jefferson, M.A.
The Homeless Empowerment Project / Spare Change News
1151 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138