I have a confession to make. When I took over as editor of SCN in 2010, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had just graduated from Bunker Hill Community College and I was in WAY over my head. On top of that, I was quickly told we didn’t have the budget to pay freelance writers and that all non-vendor writing would have to be voluntary.
That’s when I met Liam Cunningham. He spent the summer interning for the paper with us, and to my great relief, he wanted to continue writing once he went back to the University of Rhode Island in the fall. There was some confusion as to whether or not he was continuing his internship or volunteering, but it didn’t matter. He was willing to work for FREE! He was going to bail me out, and he did exactly that.
Among the articles he wrote over the next year were a cover story about cuts to Mass Health’s dental benefits; feature stories on the New York City Rescue Mission, the oldest in the country; a story on the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, the nation’s first student-run shelter; and a story on the homelessness and poverty he encountered during a school trip to Cape Verde, which included an interview with Prime Minister José Maria Neves! At the end of the year, I left Spare Change News as editor, but Liam and I stayed in contact. He wasn’t just a dependable reporter, he was a good friend.
Everyone at Spare Change News was heartbroken to learn that Liam passed away late last month. We’re a pretty tight-knit group here at Spare Change News, and we lost a member of our family.
He never strayed far from the paper. In fact, last May he asked me if I needed any writers. When I told him I could only afford to pay $50 an article, he said: “It’s no big deal. I can work on a volunteer basis.” That’s who he was, always willing to bail out his friend’s underfunded street paper.
RIP Liam, and thank you for everything you did for Spare Change News!