By Bernadette Janes
Nathaniel Hamm (Nate to his friends) is a long-time Homeless Grapevine vendor, whose dedication to the work surely accounts for his success in selling the paper. A Cleveland native, Nate had a good start in early life with his sister and three brothers. His father was a positive example, working at the ford Co, for many years and leaving Nate with values of steadfastness in work and respect for himself and others. Now, Nate especially loves the Homeless Grapevine for the great service it offers to people trying to establish a place for themselves and get a start in the working world.
Nate is a high school graduate who enjoys measuring up to a daily challenge. He also enjoys being out and meeting people, greeting them with his own special appeal, an appeal which emphasizes the importance of the Grapevine in informing readers of new legislative movement in the city, as well as its value in supporting people in Cleveland. Married and the father of a 15 year old boy, whom he visits as often as possible,
Nate sells the paper at three different sites: at CSU (of campus), at Public Square, and at the house of blues at 4th and Euclid. Always mindful of various territorial restrictions, Nate is very aware of rights and how to fight for them. He faced off against the house of blues when they wouldn’t allow him to sell the newspaper on the sidewalk. He succeeded in disputing their claim that it was “private property” and now the police don’t bother him here.
Nate has been working with NEOCH for more than ten years and will continue to do so even during periods working at other jobs. A skilled carpenter, he gets great pleasure out of building and seeing his finished handiwork become a useful structure. Playing the drum is another pastine he wishes he had more time for. However, his busy life doesn’t keep him from following news of the world, as well as the frequent disturbing reports of unequal treatment of African-American and Caucasians by our American justice system. In view of such disheartening realities, he does what he can for people newly released from prison by showing them that reading or selling the Homeless Grapevine could aid them in their quest for a new productive life.
At age 42, Nate has great ambitions for the future. He wants to get a place of his own, sharpen his selling and carpentry skills, and spend more time with his son. Yet, for now, Nate strives every day to make the general public aware of the Homeless Grapevine, and takes pride in its evidence of what homeless people are doing for themselves, because he knows that, in the long run, their progress will contribute and be of benefit to Cleveland society as a whole.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland, Ohio, Issue 83, November 2007