Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Homeless Grapevine is dead; long live the Homeless
Daniel Thompson poem in the Homeless Grapevine
foto taken at Daniel Thompson’s funeral by Smith

The Homeless Grapevine is dead; long live the Homeless
[received from Smith]

Cleveland poets are trying to raise $1,600 for a new issue of the newspaper the homeless give away to folks in return for donations. So far we have almost $1,000 donated by poet Larry Smith's Bottom Dog Press, poet Mary Weems, poet Ben Gulyas and his friends, and poets Kathy and Steve Smith. That leaves the newspaper $600 short.

I can't think of anyone better qualified to raise money to print the words of the homeless than the word loving poets of Cleveland; after all, if we don't stand behind words for humanity, who will?

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) used to print The Homeless Grapevine four to six times a year which allowed the homeless to offer a newspaper in return for a donation rather than just asking for money. This let every one retain a sense of dignity because it is a transaction rather than begging. Plus 50% of the articles in each issue are written by the homeless, which gives them a venue to showcase their story and us a chance to learn more about our fellow humans’ need.

Unfortunately NEOCH ran out of money last year and there hasn't been an issue printed since August 2009. Even more unfortunate, some unauthorized folks tried to raise money using old papers, which sullied the paper's name.

So the Homeless Grapevine is no more. But they have plans for a new newspaper as well as some job training scheduled for the first of the year and would be willing to print an edition right away if they can raise the funds.

Since the old Grapevine name has been tarnished, the new paper will have a new name. Ben Gulyas has suggested calling it Let's Face It, which I think is bodaciously excellent because it is time we faced our homeless problem here in Cleveland.

As Ben Gulyas says, "The address to send a check to is listed below. Again just specify on the check that it's "for homeless newspaper," and that will reserve that money for that purpose. So far the five of us, Kathy, Steven, Larry, Mary and myself we've got $600. Let's keep it going!"

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH)
3631 Perkins Ave, #3A-3
3rd Floor
Cleveland, Oh 44114

You can also donate at

For a NEOCH status update on the donation process, check

For the NEOCH blog, check

Kudos go out to Kathy Smith for proposing this, Larry Smith and Mary Weems for jumpstarting the initial donations, and especially Ben Gulyas who has literally kept it rolling. Who says poets and poetry don’t matter?

Here are the two emails from Brian Davis of NEOCH to Ben Gulyas in response to Ben's inquiries on exactly what’s going on.

Please, all of you, pass this on. Let’s get this done.

Email #1:

Yes, the Grapevine has not published since August of 2009. We just have not had the money to publish. Yes, it would cost around $1,600 to publish one issue. NEOCH is the 501-c-3 charity to make donations to. The Grapevine never had its own charitable status. We would give out tax receipts to anyone that sends in donations to the Grapevine. We are working on a plan to tie the Grapevine to a job training program so that anyone who signs up to go through job training during the day could make some money in the late afternoon/evening to stay alive during their training. We don’t expect to start this until January 2011.

Finally, people can specify the Grapevine when donating through Network for Good, and those dollars are held until we decide what the future of the paper will be. We have talked about this for a while and since the Grapevine has not published for a year and some people are abusing the paper’s name by panhandling with old papers, we most likely start with a clean slate and a new name if we published again. We will try for a different business model to make sure that we can sustain the paper without the pedestrian traffic that we had in the past. When we started we had a rich pedestrian traffic downtown. That is no longer true so we have to look at other models for distribution.


Email #2:

If we get $1,600 then we can do an edition before we get our plans together, but as I said, we probably would call it something else. If we only get $1,000, we would have to contact the donors to ask what they want done with their donation.

I think that we can clarify on the front of the paper and in the media that we are changing directions, but still maintaining the concept. We still want a street newspaper distributed locally by homeless people with at least half of the text by homeless people. It is just that the name has been dragged through the mud with scammers using the paper to fundraise for themselves for the past year.

We would love to have volunteers. We actually just updated our website to provide ideas for volunteering in the homeless community: and then here is a link if people want to directly serve homeless people:

Also, just to let you know we are doing a joint fundraiser with Catholic Charities in November to support the Coalition. We are having a chef from Sans Souci prepare a gourmet lunch for homeless people, and we are selling tickets in which individuals can pay for one of the meals. Everyone that supports one of the meals will be entered in a raffle for prizes. It is a nice way to support NEOCH and one of the programs that feeds homeless people every day. The website on this fundraiser will be up on Friday.

I agree with you about the one shot nature of raising dollars, and how it would be great to put something together long term. We were never good at getting advertising support for the paper to sustain it. We just did not have that skill here.

Thanks again for your interest and support.

To all the other poets: Thank you for thinking of the Grapevine and the vendors who sold the paper.


Daniel Thompson poem in the Homeless Grapevine – foto by Smith



Anonymous said...

Obama is President,
There are no homeless.
There are no unemployed.
We do not torture.
We do not bomb by drone.
Gays serve openly in our armed forces.
Gays are allowed to marry.
Everyone has health care, access to education and income inequality is at an all time lone.
Homeless? Stop being haters.

lady said...

@anon - it's up to us, maybe.

lady said...

@jesus - thanks for posting

Anonymous said...

My Greek Brothers Anon & Anon are right. We can not wait for some politician who lied to get elected to solve our problems. It is on us. Luckily one of his lies involved helping those facing foreclosure = Obama's HAMP program helps no one except the banks. While this is a common theme for most of his "programs" the failure to address foreclosures means a lot of abandoned houses for the homeless.

John B. Burroughs said...

@Lady - You're welcome.

@Anon - So much, I guess, for HAMPering the banks. Would you say DEprogramMING is in order?


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau