Founding Vendor Reflects on Life of Service After Receiving Award

By Angelo Anderson

We often use this paper to write about things that sometimes seem mundane and trivial when compared to all that’s going on around us, but I would like to touch on how fleeting our lives are.  In the blink of an eye we can be gone. My question is, did we make a difference while we were here?  I recently received an award from the city for Outstanding Service. During the process I had to do a short bio on the work I’ve done with the homeless.  Not being on to look for praise or reconnection for what I do, it’s humbling to see my accomplishments laid out in front of me.

I’m often approached on the street, in stores; restaurants etc. by people thanking me for helping them find a way to overcome homelessness in their lives.   I know that I’ve helped in some small way but I never stop to think how, or if my being there has made a difference.  Maybe that’s what has made me effective. I don’t think if I can help, I believe I can.

But is it enough? And what else can I do?  Those two questions will keep me busy for a long time trying to make a difference one man at a time.   Here is the text of the award program:

“Angelo Anderson spent eight years living on the streets of Cleveland in the early 1990s, but turned his life around and used the next 25 years serving people who find themselves without housing.  He started the street newspaper, the Homeless Grapevine, first as a photocopied newsletter and then a real newspaper with the words of homeless people. 

Anderson worked to expand the Homeless Stand Down to include veterans and non-veteran homeless people. He has worked on housing people with a program called Bridging the Gap.  Anderson began working at the largest shelter in Ohio in 2000, and he has cooked, done catering and restaurant work.  His hobbies include fishing and he sometimes organizes outing for the guys at Lakeside shelter.  Angelo frequently speaks to church groups and school groups about homelessness and you can still find him on Saturdays selling the street newspaper at the West Side Market.

On February 26, 2016, the Community Relations Board and the City of Cleveland honored African Americans of note working in the City of Cleveland.  Mayor Frank Jackson was on hand and Blaine Griffin of the Department of Community Development.”

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio