Season’s greetings from Megaphone vendors

Valerie Fielding

“Selling Megaphone this time of year, I’m excited to see how far away they go. For instance, I’m always asking people, because at the (Eastside) flea market I meet quite a few people. The families of people who live here come to visit and at Christmas time there are so many people from different areas, I’m always kind of keeping a mental note. If I hear an accent, I ask them if they’re vacationing here.

“This is a lovely paper because it has lots of community information about the Downtown Eastside.

“I always tell people the Downtown Eastside has been stigmatized with people saying that it’s always so dark. So we hope that the light that Hope in Shadows brings will help people take that to other places and show people that it’s not all darkness that everyone says it is. I really like that, when I explain to people this is our little light trying to shine in the darkness of the Downtown Eastside.

“I think my most memorable moment this year was at the (Megaphone breakfast) fundraiser. That fundraiser was really nice, I got to meet people I’ve never met before.

“I’m very proud to have a photo of mine chosen in the Hope in Shadows calendar. (Editor’s note: Valerie’s February 2018 photo won the Julie Rogers Memorial Award for Best Portrait.)

“I’ve had a few really highlighted moments this year. I’ve got a new place in this new building my church, Grandview Calvary, is building and that’s another place I’ll bring the Hope in Shadows light to.

“I’m so grateful to that flea market for sponsoring that table for us. They’ve been wonderfully kind to give us that table. I think their light has shined on helping us. It wouldn’t hurt to mention Alberta, with the Eastside Flea, she’s an absolute love bug.

“My biggest accomplishment this year, I think that would be the photo in the calendar. I thought it was so creative to go into the florist and get carnations in a shape of a heart because this year’s theme was Heart and Soul. When I asked that little lady (Christiane Bordier, featured in the picture) to hold the flowers, it seemed to really light her face up.

“I am proud of the way my photo has reached so many people’s kitchens and hung on so many people’s walls. I just try to be a brightness in the so-called dark Downtown Eastside.

“The photo in the calendar was a thrilling surprise too. There are so many photos submitted and I still don’t know what the heart and soul of it is and I really like the winning (cover) photo this year. They had the biggest smile in their hearts when their photo was taken that day.

“It’s been a challenge with the nerves in the heels of my feet this year. I try to be so positive of being in constant pain and trying to be positive in my happy little self. I got rid of the pain in my hip and it was so much brighter after that. It started as an uncomfortableness and progressed to where it’s actually been really painful and that’s been my biggest challenge.

“In the new year, I’m looking forward to the prospect of a new home to live in. I’m also looking forward to being a bigger part of Megaphone this year.

“I’m going to try and write a couple little pieces for the magazine. I think a new home and some answers for this nerve problem in my feet, and meeting some people at Christmas selling calendars too. That’s the highlight.

“I’d like to thank all the lovely, warmhearted, supportive people who keep buying Megaphone and Hope in Shadows throughout the year and this season.

“I think they’re really special. A big thanks to them.”

Valerie sells in Vancouver at the Eastside Flea and at her church, Grandview Calvary.

 I’d like to thank all the lovely, warmhearted, supportive people who keep buying Megaphone

Craig Baron

“I like selling Megaphone this time of year because it gives me a chance to help others as much as I can. And give them joy and happiness throughout the year.

“It’s also a way of me giving of myself. I like trying to help a person get out of their own shell. Like people who are very shy and stay at home. It’s still ongoing, and it brings out the best in me.

“The biggest achievement I’ve had this year is meeting new people every day I go out. I enjoy meeting new people. And my proudest moment is to interact and meet with new people.

“The biggest surprise this year is people giving me so much respect and trying to include me in a way that I can be a better person every time.

“The biggest challenge this year, I think, is just facing what I have to deal with every day of my life—the positive and the negative.

“To a degree, I’m still trying to be a better person than I actually am. Every day. And I still like to learn through others.

“My hope for the new year is everybody stays safe. It’s about the giving of one person to care about one other person. Not just receiving, but giving.

“I plan on relaxing for the holidays, having a big feast, and thinking about a lot of the people I met throughout the year.

“To all the people I deal with, may you have a safe and happy holiday. And may all your wishes of the new year come true!”

Victoria vendor Craig Baron sells outside the London Drugs on Yates St., between Quadra and Vancouver streets. His usual hours are from Wednesday to Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Selling Megaphone this time of year because it gives me a chance to help others as much as I can

Rodney McNeely

“I enjoy selling Megaphone this time of year because I like the greetings. I have a feeling that customers and vendors are going through the same thing with the weather. So there’s a bit of a relationship there.

“My most memorable moments this year were the Bowen Island trip and the Voices of the Street production.

“The trip, it had been a few years since I went on any kind of day trip so it felt really good. It was nice to take the time out and do something like that. I did a sketch out there. I went for a hike. I did a little rock climbing.

“At the Voices of the Street production, I felt on top of the world when I finished it. I never did anything like that before. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. (Editor’s Note: Rodney read two of his poems at the 2017 launch event for Megaphone’s annual literary edition, Voices of the Street.)

“I love doing artwork and printmaking. I like being able to learn something new in printmaking, being able to draw patterns. In this case it was a bee. I felt very good about the results I had from my print and the other prints I made. It was fun doing it. (Editor’s note: The bee by Rodney hangs in Megaphone’s office.)

“My biggest surprise this year was being in the advertisement for the Vancouver Courier newspaper, the Megaphone advertisement. I didn’t expect that at all. I got a call one morning asking me to do it. I guess it surprised me because I didn’t think it would be an advertisement for the newspaper like the Courier. If it was an advertisement just to promote the product, but I didn’t expect it to be in the Courier!

“I had a few challenges this year. My foot was a challenge. I’ve been walking on a sore foot for the past year and I finally got it checked out at the walk-in clinic and it’s healing now. I guess I procrastinated and didn’t go right away.

“The last challenge I had was when I got sick just recently, after the big rainstorm we had in November.

“It was also a challenge to be on the Vendor Advisory Board. It’s a challenge to get myself up in the morning to make it in. I was late once. I guess I just had enough times doing it, my body got used to it. (Editor’s note: Rodney served one three-month term on the board, which is peer-chosen. The board provides Megaphone staff with input.)

“I’d like to take a vacation next year but I never seem to get there. I’d love to go somewhere warm if it was in the winter, but in the summer I’m OK with going somewhere in Canada. Saving money has always been difficult for me.

“Next year, I’d just like to keep healthy. I’ll probably continue to do bike riding and physical activities. I did them last spring and summer but as soon as we had those forest fires, I wasn’t motivated to do my exercises because of the smoke in the air.

“I always like to wish my customers a very Merry Christmas and hope they can achieve their dreams in the new year, as much as I look forward to achieving mine.”

Rodney sells in Vancouver at Cambie and Eighth in front of the Whole Foods or at Granville and Dunsmuir.

I felt on top of the world

Peter Thompson

“I like selling this time of year because everybody’s happy. Everybody’s in a good mood and everybody’s happy the calendars are out—they know it’s that time of year again.

“They enjoy the calendar and it brings up their spirits. Everybody’s spirits are up; that’s what I like about selling this time of year.

“My most memorable moment this year was my trip to Merritt with my family. It was enjoyable. We cruised the river, did a lot of sightseeing there and visited family. I have my uncle and cousins living up there.

“Something I was proud of doing this year was helping my sister fix up her car for the trip to Merritt, the long road trip. The car, it needed new tires, an oil change, and it needed other things to make it there and back. It was just to make it for the road conditions so it doesn’t have any problems along the way.

“I helped her get the tires, change the tires, and did other stuff with the car. With the new cars it’s a bit harder, but with the older ones I’m able to do some mechanical stuff. It was much easier because you have more room inside the engine than you do now. Now, you can barely get around in there, you have to drop the engine just to get to the starter.

“Something that surprised me this year? That’s a hard one. But this one day when I was selling papers, I was looking across the street and I saw a green paper.

“I was going to check it out but I saw someone else had crossed the street so I was waiting to talk to them first before I checked out that green paper.

“As the person came across the street toward me, I was talking to them. A lot of people across the street walked over the green piece of paper except this one woman. She picked it up and it was a $20 bill.

“But then she came across the street toward me with the $20, waving it and said, ‘This has your name on it.’

“She was some random person that was just walking by.

“The weather was a really big challenge this year because you didn’t know what to wear or you didn’t know what the day was going to be like.

“One day I went out there, I thought it was going to be nice and warm because it was sunny out but it was freezing. I didn’t expect it to be that cold. I didn’t wear enough clothing for that day.

“It makes selling really hard. I had to quit early that day because I got too cold.

“For the year ahead, I’m going to try to be as bright as I’ll ever be.

“I wish all my customers all the best the rest of this year and in the coming new year.”

Peter sells in Vancouver at the corner of the Whole Foods building, under the canopy, at West 4th and Vine.

I’m going to try to be as bright as I’ll ever be

Elizabeth Detcher

“I like selling Megaphone because I get into nice conversations with people about Megaphone. One lady for instance, she asked me at the (Eastside Flea) why I sell the magazines. And I say it’s because all the people who sell them are my friends or acquaintances and their stories are very interesting. And it’s a good way to break the ice with some people and say, ‘Hey, that’s my friend’s story in here, you should check it out, it’s only $2.’

“One other lady has bought so many from me I think her house is full of magazines. She says she likes coming to me because she can have a laugh, a one-on-one conversation.

“One of the most memorable things this past year is going to my friend’s wedding. I went to her wedding and I was happy. Her and her boyfriend had to wait six years before they got married.

“My best accomplishment this year is working for Megaphone. I feel I can do anything I put my mind to, but Megaphone, they put me out in the spotlight. I sell these papers, talk to these people.

“I like to say hi to people at the vendor meetings. A lot of them, I only knew their faces before. Now we know each other by name. All the vendors need to feel that they’re important. This isn’t just selling papers, it’s a job and it’s giving them an opportunity to step out to the world. If I can sell papers, I can do anything.

“One of my surprises this year was my granddaughter graduating into her next grade. She was born with a learning disability. Her teachers were amazed because she wrote a story and it’s called, ‘My Nanny said.’ So that was my big surprise, when my son called me and said, ‘Guess what was the name of her story.’

“My granddaughter, I call her my little miracle baby. They didn’t think she was gonna live, and I said, ‘Of course she is, she’s got a little bit of my blood in her.’ She’s seven and going on 40. My granddaughter loves books and nature shows like me. I love reading about nature. The biggest surprise is knowing my granddaughter is doing good.

“Next year I’m looking forward to no more drug deaths and a lot more people selling Megaphone. Getting young people out there selling something that makes them feel good about making money the right way—that would make their parents proud. That’s what I would like to see for 2018.

“I want to see kids helping kids, and people helping people—no matter if they have a college degree or don’t have a college degree.

“I want people to treat people like people. I want people to be able to say, ‘Hey what’s your name? I haven’t seen you in a long time. I saw your picture, how are you doing?’ Talking to somebody like they’re your sister or your brother.

“I think we need to start to see 2018 as better than this year. I want to see a lot more happy stories of people having babies, people learning how to dance. I’m learning how to step dance. I feel like I’ve got five legs. It’s a joy. This 18-year-old is teaching me how to step dance. We do more laughing than we do dancing but it’s interesting watching an old lady try to step dance!”

Catch Elizabeth selling in Vancouver at the Eastside Flea Market.

I feel I can do anything I put my mind to

Sang Hussain

“I like selling this time of year because I make more money and people are in good moods, and I get to talk to people. I get out of my house.

“This past year has been memorable because I have had more communication with my family online. My family lives in Afghanistan and it’s very difficult to talk to them that far away.

“I’m proud of how I manage myself. I do my cooking, I do my cleaning, and I take care of myself.

“I am trying to get a prosthetic leg. I’m looking forward to getting that.

“The doctor told me he’s going to give me an artificial leg so I’m able to walk again, instead of using the wheelchair. I’m in the wheelchair. About two years ago, I had an operation to remove my leg. I got an infection in the bone.

“The challenge I face, sometimes I have a transportation problem. I found a lady to drive me but sometimes she doesn’t have time to drive me, to get to a doctor’s appointment.

“Mobility is a big issue.

“I am looking forward to getting a leg and being able to walk, being able to have more freedom and a more independent life. That’s what I’m looking forward to in the new year.

“My customers, they’ve known me for a long time, the past two years. Everybody knows me there (where I sell).

“I wish my customers good health.”

Sang sells in Victoria at Humboldt and Vancouver streets. Photo by Josh Tanasichuk.

I’m looking forward to more freedom and a more independent life

Raven Feraru

“Selling Megaphone this time of year gives me a sense of belonging, sense of dignity—not having to hold out a bowl or a cup asking people for spare change. It gives me a better customer service strategy, builds up customer relationships.

“It allows me to reach out more.

“The most memorable thing this year was being able to be with my family in Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Being able to drag them out of the house and having family time together when I got off the ferry. I was there for five weeks.

“My biggest achievement this year? I’ve helped a few people get off the street. I helped people work on their wheelchairs because of the background under my belt. But a close friend of mine passed away two years ago. He helped a lot of people. He helped me. He’s the reason why I’m living in my building to this very day.

“This past year’s challenges, I was sick of the way I was getting treated at one space before, so I was surprised to join Megaphone. I wanted to get away from panhandling.

“Being disabled, it’s hard for me to get work. And with my military background I have under my belt, I’m overqualified for lots of jobs. I’m 30 and I’m overqualified. I fan out a few resumes, still overqualified. I want to get some type of employment going on but this is the alternative for now.

“It’s been an interesting year. I wear my permit (Megaphone badge) proudly. I wear it like a uniform.

“In 2018, I’m looking forward to getting out of debt because I’m paying for my wheelchair. I’m not covered. And then I’d like to save up for a plane ticket to go to Calgary or Ottawa for Remembrance Day next year. I’m also saving up for car insurance.

“I wish all my customers great health and a prosperous new year.”

Raven sells at a few locations in Vancouver, at Broadway and Cambie, the Robson 1100 block, and sometimes at the 900 block of Granville.

Thanks to all the street papers, and their vendors, who have contributed to our #vendormoments2017 series. Happy new year!