Despite being more commonly found in Cambridge’s Harvard Square, Spare Change News vendor Gregory Henry Daugherty boasts he was a born and raised Bostonian
“I’m from Boston. Born and raised in Boston – not Cambridge, Boston. I went to Boston Trade High School, and did everything in Boston. Here, you’ve got more people into a lot of other things. You’ve got colleges, you’ve got business people, and you’ve got street people, so this is a good place to be.
“I was on the streets for fifteen years. It was hard. I had to do a lot of things to help myself. I had to put skeletons away and not look back. You know, girlfriend problems, nowhere to live, hunger. In these times, you have to work things out with yourself and humble yourself.”
Before working with Spare Change News, Daugherty got his money from passing out coupons in Harvard Square.
“I passed out coupons for a year before I started Spare Change. The guy who did the coupon thing died, and his wife tried to take over but wasn’t into it as much. I came here [Spare Change] fifteen years ago, liked it, and have been here ever since.
“I didn’t find Spare Change. Spare Change found me,” said Daugherty. “I knew this guy working for Spare Change back when I was passing out coupons for Square Deals. He asked me to come down to the Spare Change office, and they agreed to pay me after my first 100 papers. I’ve been doing it since then.
“Spare Change helped me out in so many ways. It made me happy with myself, and showed me I could do things for myself. It gives you a chance to love yourself and wake up in the morning and know you can do things. I feel that anyone can read this paper and should help Spare Change. It’s a great thing.
In addition to being helped by Spare Change, Spare Change benefited from Daugherty; the icon used on each new issue is a silhouette of Daugherty.
“I’m in housing right now. I’m okay now. Spare Change helped me clear my mind once I had an idea where I was going get a dollar from. That was the big thing. I could focus on other things as long as I knew I could feed myself and clothe myself.”
Daugherty mentioned that he has many regular buyers, and that he meets all sorts of people working on the streets, even actors.
“They came into Harvard Square and told me they liked how I was doing my thing, and then sat around and talked to me. I can’t remember any names, but I met ’em.”
“I opened up a sketch with them in the Harvard Yard. It was the first time I’d ever been on stage in my life. It was called “Flashlight” it was about things about Cambridge and people in Cambridge – all about people. It was a ten minute sketch, and I played myself. I opened the sketch.”
In addition to “Flashlight,” Daugherty said he was an extra in the background of Good Will Hunting, which was filmed in the Boston area. “I was happy. I never thought I’d be able to do something like that.”
When asked about advice for other street newspaper vendors, Daugherty replied, “I always tell them Spare Change is a paper where you have to be patient. You can’t give up if you don’t do well on your first time. If you don’t have any ambition, you shouldn’t work here. They’re not going give you the money. You have to earn it.”
Daugherty, however, stated that he started out a natural. He has always been good with people.
“You have good times and bad times. Not everything’s the same. You might have a few good months, and you might have to struggle. You can’t really budget since you don’t know how it’s going be. But Spare Change has been a great experience for me. I got a chance to meet a lot of people – actors, actresses even – and I got a lot of chances to do things I wouldn’t normally do, and it kept me out of trouble.”
Originally published by the Street News Service. © www.streetnewsservice.org