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Vendor Spotlight: Robert (One Step Away - USA)

 One Step Away - USA 22 April 2019

Robert Herring doesn’t look much like your typical homeless person. Indeed, looking at his curriculum vitae, you’d probably equate him to being a middle-income, blue collared American. A determined man, he says he will beat homelessness and is using the income he generates as a vendor for One Step Away, Philadelphia’s street newspaper, to go back to school. (554 Words) - By Chantelle Belic

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One Step Away_Vendor Profile Robert Herring

One Step Away vendor Robert Herring.Photo: Eve Zausner

One Step Away_Vendore Profile Robert Herring2

One Step Away vendor Robert Herring.Photo: Eve Zausner


Name: Robert Herring

Street paper: One Step Away

City: Philadelphia

"I started on a park bench and decided I was going to do whatever I had to do to get out of the situation I was in," Robert said. "I had to sell papers to get enough money to pay for bus and food for the day, and thanks to all my customers that supported me I did it. It was hard. On a lot of days I was not sure how I would make it through the day. I studied on my bench and did my homework there, too. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I'm still going to work with One Step Away until I find a job."

Born in Tacony, Philadelphia, Robert had always been in work but with the economy crunch, construction work fell and Robert became unemployed and lost his home. He attributes his situation to an economy in crisis and the deficiency of jobs for contracted workers. At the moment, many people are becoming their own carpenters, plumbers and handymen in order to save money here and there. Once down-and-out, homelessness had a way of defeating Robert even more.

"Once you become homeless, it's hard to get out of it," he said. "Where do you go to brush your teeth or take a bath? I mean, I know people who carry clothes with them, but it's hard to keep them clean. You can try to pull it off, pretend, but it's usually obvious that you're homeless."

Robert's entire family lives in Texas, so he's only ever had one income that he could rely on - his own. But Robert did not let his living situation define him. Born and raised in Tacony, Philadelphia, Robert attended Lincoln High School, where he dropped out before graduating, but eventually he went on to complete his GED. Ever since , Robert has been nothing short of a go-getter. With all his ambition, Robert rarely has any spare time, but when he does have a spare minute he likes to play, Texas Hold 'Em, the game of sharks. A salesman and businessman, his vending motto is: "Sell yourself, not the paper." If you are lucky enough to meet him, he will certainly leave an impression on you, as most of his customers always seem to remember him.

Though Robert is able to support himself working with One Step Away, he has set bigger goals for himself in that he eventually wants to become well established in a commercial driving company and ultimately acquire his own home.

"I go to All-State Career School for commercial driving," Robert said. "They have great instructors there. I graduate in a week, I have to pass a CDL license, and then I've got to find a company to hire me.

"My thanks to all the people in Philly who bought papers and encouraged me to keep going. You made it possible for me to accomplish this goal of mine and improve my life."

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