Toledo Streets vendor Moe Gonzalez sells papers near 16th Street and Jefferson Avenue on Wednesday. Toledo Streets is a local paper produced by and for the homeless.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
A new chapter is about to begin in the life of an upstart newspaper that has breathed new life into some of Toledo’s road-weary souls.
Toledo Streets, the city’s only paper written largely by and produced with significant help from area homeless people, introduced a new editor in chief on Wednesday.
Jamie Rye, missions pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Ottawa Lake, will be one of the paper’s two paid employees. The other is newly hired Christy Grob, Toledo Streets director of vendor management.
Mr. Rye replaces founding Editor in Chief Amanda Faith Moore, who plans to relocate to southern Ohio with her husband after getting married in Toledo on May 25.
Toledo Streets “really reflects the community and voices of the community,” Mr. Rye said.
The changes will be announced to the public today at a fund-raiser from 6 to 10 p.m. at Mansion View Inn, 2035 Collingwood Ave. Tickets are $25. Entertainment will be provided by singer Candace Coleman, a former American Idol contestant from Toledo.
Created in 2009, Toledo Streets is a tabloid-format publication that has shown steady growth, despite cutbacks in the newspaper industry nationally. It is one of many newer publications produced by and for the homeless that has gained popularity.
Its latest edition, featuring an interview with Keith Burwell of the Toledo Community Foundation on its cover, has a press run of 2,000 copies — twice the spring 2012 edition’s press run of 1,000 copies.
Funding remains tenuous, said Ken Leslie, homeless activist and founder of 1Matters, the paper’s anchor group that provided its start-up funding. But the cash flow has been solidified with a pair of $10,000 job-training grants, one from the city of Toledo and the other from Lucas County. The money will be used to help train homeless and impoverished residents who wish to become vendors, Mr. Leslie said.
Cherry Street Mission Ministries, which houses many of the homeless people who work for, distribute, and read the newspaper, also has provided in-kind support.
The vendors are the newspaper’s core. The publication exists in large part to help them learn more self-sufficiency and gain confidence in a sluggish economy, Mr. Leslie said. “Because of Amanda’s hard work, the paper is catching on for both the buying public and the vendors who might otherwise have to resort to panhandling,” he added.
Toledo Streets publishes monthly from May until at least October and every other month during nonpeak periods.
Numerous vendors rotate in and out, but the number who sell the publication full time has grown to 12, up from six a year ago.
Two of the full-time vendors shared their stories Wednesday during a news conference at the Old West End establishment playing host to tonight’s benefit.
Lawrence Staler, 55, said he is an East Toledo native who moved to East Texas for a series of blue-collar jobs in the 1980s. He said he wound up spending more than 21 years in a Texas prison for two assault convictions, and eventually relocated to the Toledo area after his release in search of work and a way of making good on his delinquent child-support payments.
Staler said he might have ended up back in prison if he had not found steady employment through Toledo Streets. He often hawks papers in the downtown area near Toledo Municipal Court. “I want to be part of your community instead of being an outlaw,” said Staler, who said he has begun to get his life back together. He still lives at the Cherry Street Mission.
Another vendor, Moe Gonzalez, 39, said he recently got the money he needed to move out of the mission and back into an apartment. He credits Toledo Streets for setting him back on a right path.
Mr. Gonzalez, who has lived in Toledo since he was 15, said he often sells papers near the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles office on 17th Street and Madison Avenue, and at the Erie Street Market.
“At first, I was very skeptical,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “Diligence is the key.”
Staler said he probably would have given up if he couldn’t sell the first stack of 10 papers Ms. Moore gave him, but his ability to sell those encouraged him to keep going. “There’s got to be a curb-level way for people who want to work and raise themselves up,” Ms. Moore said.
Toledo Streets is part of the North American Street Newspaper Association, established in 1996, which represents U.S. and Canadian street newspapers. It also is part of the International Network of Street Papers, which represents street newspapers in 40 countries.
The publications are served by an online news agency called Street News Service, with stories published in three languages. It operates like a news co-op, with articles exchanged among its member papers for free.
Contact Tom Henry at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6079.