How well do you know the people who ask for your charity? When people on the street ask you for money do you stop? Can you really say you know them?
If you ever shopped at the Seattle University District Safeway, you probably knew of Edward McClain. He was the homeless man who sold Real Change newspapers from his foldup chair by the entrance.
There are too many negative stereotypes about homeless people. We can seem to forget that they are people too. Edward McClain was a prime example of that.
He came to work every day. He worked up to 12 hours per day 7 days a week and was always calm and polite. How many people do you know who are capable of that? McClain offered you a newspaper without forcing the issue. If you declined, he would reply, “Have a great day, ma’am” or “Have a great day, sir.”
Yet, McClain had not always been homeless. The story of how he got that way is far too common.
McClain was born in Jackson, Mississippi and raised in Chicago. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from Northern Illinois University and studied microeconomics at Concordia University in Montreal. He spent 30 years studying cuisine in Europe before returning to the United States. McClain arrived in Seattle in 1994 but found himself homeless after losing the $2,500 he had to his name.
At that point, McClain started selling the newspaper and became one of their top vendors. Sadly, Mr. McClain passed away at the age of 69. He will be missed.
His story makes you stop and realize how easy it is to become homeless. Yet, he is not one who wanted to be mourned and pitied.
“Live life to the fullest,” he said before he passed. “When I die, I don’t want them to say I didn’t do this, I didn’t do that. When I die I want them to say, he didn’t leave a rock unturned.”