Vendor Profile, Anthony Thames
Spare Change News
Spare Change news vendor Anthony Thames, born and raised in the South End of Boston, and has been with Spare Change for two years.
He became a part of Spare Change because he needed to make some changes in his life and find some direction. It has taken him over 25 years to realize that he needed to turn his life around.
Anthony recalls a time when he was in a shelter in Cambridge where he made the choice to change his life and the way he thought about life. He says that he is currently in the process of taking the journey to make these changes. He says, “I’ve been in recovery now for a couple years and I’m on this quest to improve my life and not only my life but the life of others.”
When Anthony first started with Spare Change he was simply trying to make some extra cash but after having been isolated from society, Spare Change gave him some exposure to society, allowed him to meet a diverse group of people, and he ultimately earned respect from people and accepted their offers of help.
He says, “I pride myself in the fact that as I do my travels I meet other people who are struggling and I always make the suggestion that they give Spare Change a chance which enables them to maybe earn a few dollars and do some of the same things that I do, get exposure, not stay so isolated and alone, get out there.”
Anthony has spent the last 15 years living with people but not actually having a place to call his own. Fortunately, he found housing last year in Weymouth. He enjoys having a place to call his own and settle into.
However, growing up he never thought he would end up homeless. “I remember years ago a friend of mine ended up in a shelter and I said, ‘I would never,’ and he said, ‘never say never.’ And that stands out in my mind all the time.”
On a good day Anthony sells about 50 papers and he buys papers about three times a week. Although sometimes his immediate needs take priority, he is very aware of the need to reach his ultimate goals.
He very much enjoys selling the papers and he has many regular customers. He says the most important thing is a smile when selling papers and that it goes a long way. “I’ve experienced people walking right by me and turning around and coming back for whatever reason. I’ve had enlightening conversations with people, so that in general is what inspires me to come back, it’s not the money cause I don’t really get a lot.”
He wants people to understand about homelessness to “never say never” and “we are all pretty much one or two bad decisions away from being homeless ourselves and that it can happen to anybody. Being homeless shouldn’t be a stigma, it shouldn’t be something bad, it’s just an unfortunate situation and you could also use it as a motivating tool.”
He says that homelessness can be used to motivate and create change in one’s life. “It’s an opportunity and sometimes it takes being homeless for them to really get it and actually put some fire under their behind and make them go out and have a whole different perspective on life.”
Anthony states how Spare Change helps him in a number of ways. It gives him the opportunity to meet new people and learn different perspectives. “It allows me to see the goodness in people and for a long time I thought people were bad, mean, and I generalized a lot but being exposed to a lot of people especially where I sell papers in Porter Square. It allowed me to realize that there are some good people of all walks of life and that people in general do have a good heart and so want to help the fellow man”.
Anthony can be found selling his papers in Porter Square and he says that there are some good people there. He thinks the people in Cambridge are open, giving, and passionate.
He is currently writing a book called the “Black Book on Child Rearing,” and it’s a book about his theory on the proper way to raise children with a lot based on his childhood. He had a rough childhood with a lot of abuse. “I don’t even know that my abusers realize that it was abuse at the time. Things have changed but there is this belief that this is how you raise children, you’re firm.”
However, Anthony disagrees with this belief and thinks that raising children takes patience, time, and especially love, and he feels that there is not enough of that and he wants to encourage it.
He plans on writing some more articles for Spare Change. “I was just telling someone earlier that my idol has always been Dr. Martin Luther King and since I was a child I always vision myself being up there talking to a massive amount of people. That’s my ultimate goal, to change the world; I mean really to have some type of influence.”
Anthony wants people to know that he thinks Spare Change is an excellent organization and that it empowers people. He thinks it forces people, in a good way, to face their issues and become healthier, and this is what he finds to be the best thing about Spare Change.
LARISSA BUTRIMOWICZ writes for Spare Change News.