IMMORTAL: Spare Change News is 25-years-old

If anyone had told me or any of the founders that Spare Change News would be here 25 years later, we would have shattered the windows of our old offices with the peals of very loud laughter. Hell, if you had told us at the end of 1992—after we’d moved to Old Cambridge Baptist Church—we would have laughed even louder, and yet… we’re still here.

This old girl (I know 25 isn’t old, but you don’t work here) has seen its fair share of con-men and con-women vendors, rogue editors (one who literally tried to steal it out from under us), ego-driven board members, an executive director who turned out to be a complete fraud, more than one Napoleonic board president (yours truly included), employees who’ve stolen from us, more drama than you can shake a stick at and even a founder who stole every computer in the place, sold them and turned himself into the police (you can’t make this stuff up). Our past financial situations have at times been so shaky, we sometimes wondered if we would make it to the next month, let alone the next day.

Tim Harris, the person who came up with the idea for this whole thing, once said to me that “Spare Change is immortal, it will never die.” Maybe he’s right, because more than once, we’ve been close to dying, but we’ve always managed to pull back from the brink. Part of that is due to the people who sell this paper every single day, rain or shine. The vendors are the heart and soul of this organization, and I think sometimes we forget that and take them for granted.

When our executive director, Katie Bennett, pushed to increase the price of the paper to $2, it was a long overdue raise for a group of people to whom Spare Change News owes its existence. They’ve had to endure a lot over the years, not just from a public that often looks at them with disdain or prejudice, but sometimes from an organization that at times couldn’t seem to get out of its own way. Another reason for Spare Change’s endurance is the enormous love and dedication individuals have brought to it over the years; for every rogue who’s come and gone, there are many who have lost sleep, and some who have given way too much of themselves till it hurt to keep this place going.

Last but not least is you—the people who’ve supported us over the years by buying from our vendors. You’ve volunteered your time and have made donations, and all these things have helped us and have empowered us “to present, by our own example, that homeless and economically disadvantaged people, with the proper resources, empowerment, opportunity and encouragement, are capable of creating change for ourselves in society.”

Thank you for an amazing 25 years.

James Shearer

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

Top