Ex-Homeless Speak Out To Change Perceptions | NPR.org
The typical speakers bureau can get a celebrity, a politician or a media pundit to address your group for a few thousand, or maybe tens of thousands of dollars. But one speakers bureau made up of men and women who have been homeless will provide someone for only $40.
And the speech could be just as compelling as one given by high-priced talent.
John Harrison is one of those speakers. With his ruddy good looks, salt-and-pepper hair, khakis and white button-down shirt, he looks like someone who might spend a lot of time relaxing on a sailboat. Instead, he’s still struggling to get back on his feet after years of homelessness.
He’s addressing a Jewish youth group, part of a program organized by the PANIM Institute in Washington, D.C. The teens came into the room laughing and joking, but are soon mesmerized.
Harrison’s message is clear: Almost anyone can become homeless, and people should be nice to those who are homeless.
“Seemed like all of a sudden, people walked by me like I wasn’t even there,” Harrison tells the group.
“I remember going into a restaurant to get what I called a ‘two for one.’ And the ‘two for one’ for the person experiencing homelessness is the warmth and the food for the price of the food. And so, I was optimistic. They took my order. But when they brought me my food, it was to go. Because that was the message. Go,” he says.