Profiles articles

Matt Ganem: The Voice of the Silenced

Matt Ganem: The Voice of the Silenced

“I have a real bad history—I’m not a bad person, every crime I’ve ever committed was while I was on drugs.” “Any struggle makes you stronger if you overcome it,” Matt Ganem tells me. The man who sits across the table looks calm and collected, prepared to discuss his successful job, happy and healthy children,

Melvin Jenkins Remembered by Friends On and Off the Street: Cambridge Homeless Man Dies at 58; Described as Talented, Caring and Loyal

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Alistair Finlay misses his friend. He first met Melvin Jenkins two-and-a-half years ago, and he seemed like the kind of guy worth meeting. They became best friends. Both were homeless, seeing each other at drop-in centers and at Bread and Jam for breakfast. Alistair found Mel a very helpful man and a loyal friend,

Vendor Profile: John

[Editor’s note: This story is based on an interview with one of our vendors and has not been verified.] It all started back in 1962, after I saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I ran out, bought a guitar and started playing. I started my first band when I was 18 years old

Vendor Profile: Christopher

Youthful and energetic, Christopher is always among the first to speak out and offer advice and encouragement when other Spare Change News vendors have problems or concerns. I am surprised when he tells me he will be celebrating his 50th birthday this July, and he roars with laughter when I confess I had thought him

Vendor Profile: Mark

Walk through the Red Line’s Davis Station on any morning of the week and you’ll see Mark. He is the slim, gray-haired man in the Red Sox baseball cap who sells Spare Change News at the bottom of the College Street escalator. If you have time, stop for a chat. He is one of the

Vendor Profile: Michael

If you regularly walk through Harvard Square, you’ll recognize Michael: he’s sold SPARE CHANGE NEWS outside the Church Street exit of Harvard station for nearly sixteen years. In the winter he wears a bright red coat and a warm smile. He always seems to have a good word for everyone, but not everyone makes him

Vendor Profile: Keith, Part Two

[Editor’s note: Read part one here.] I have always had this instinct in me to move to a different place, to not just settle where I was. I love to travel. I love to go to places. I used to go to places on that Greyhound bus, but I was still suffering from my addiction,

Vendor Profile: Keith, Part One

[Editor’s note: Read part two here.] I’m not a poet, but I have poet in me, and I’m not going to sugarcoat anything or pretty anything up to get your acceptance. The bottom line of the story is getting my name back and getting my self back. I’ve experienced homelessness nearly all of my life,

Vendor Profile: Angela

Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel can seem so far into the future that it is difficult to see the bright side. Angela, a Somerville vendor in her early thirties, is living through dark times. In conversation, Angela does not shy away from talking about the mistakes she’ made and the difficult


While I was working at the needle exchange, there was a couple I still cannot get out of my mind. They were in their early 60s, homeless, and they had come up for the warmer weather. They liked Massachusetts best, but they wintered in Florida. Snowbirds. That’s the expression people have for those who have