Another Year

This month, Spare Change News turns 24 years old. It’s hard to believe. I’m not going to get into how we got started. That’s a story for another day. But I will say that I’m surprised we’re still here, and even more surprised at where I am now compared to where I was then.

Before SCN, I was pretty much washed up. I was in my 30s and wasted. I was homeless again, I’d blown a good job and was headed kinda nowhere.

Today life is pretty good. Not perfect but good. I recently celebrated a birthday too, and I realize how lucky I am. I have family and good friends, and I owe it all to an idea I didn’t believe in.

I owe this little newspaper my life, and I mean that. Before this paper started, things were not looking good for yours truly. Things had fallen apart, I’d turned back to drugs and I was homeless again. I really didn’t see a way out, not a legal way, anyway.

I tried to wear the white hat and be the good guy, but it wasn’t working. I’d done my share of crime. I’m no angel. And I thought the only way out was to rejoin the dark side, so to speak.

I wish I could tell you I never went back to that place after SCN started, but that would be a lie. At times, it looked like both me and the paper wouldn’t make it. I don’t know how many times we both came to the brink. But like me, this paper is a fighter. We don’t give up easily. Even now, sometimes, we both struggle—me with middle age and all that comes with it, and she with a world in which print media is sadly going south.

So what do we both do? We look to the future instead of mourning the past. I look forward to watching the children in my life grow, and SCN teaches them and other young people about social justice.

After all, they’re the future. Maybe, by learning from us, they can build a world in which poverty and homelessness no longer exist. Maybe you should come and learn with us. You’re never too old to learn. Trust me. You may even come up with an idea or two, or maybe someone else will—an idea that can save a life. That’s what saved mine.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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