A day on the street builds support for change

In reading the New York Times we came across an interesting article about Dan Schulman the Chief executive of Virgin Mobile USA. The article was part of The Boss Column and was entitled “Teamwork’s Rewards” detailed his career since graduating from Princeton High School. Mr. Schulman also serves on the board of trustees of Rutgers University.

The piece we found most fascinating was his experience of living on the street with homeless youth in New York City for a day. He states “being out on the street was a life-altering experience. If more people would get involved, we could all be a powerful force for change.” We could not agree more with his comments. This is again why it is important to engage the private sector as well as public leaders to experience homelessness. With their first hand knowledge they may become the change we need to end homelessness.

The following is the section in which Mr. Schulman describes his day living on the streets of New York. To read the full article click here.

Last summer I spent 24 hours on the street in New York with Rick Koca, whose nonprofit, StandUp for Kids, we support. It distributes survival kits and a hot-line number to homeless teenagers. Rick suggested that I see how they live, to know what it’s like. I didn’t shave for a week and wore dirty jeans, a ragged shirt and a blanket around my shoulders. I couldn’t bring a cellphone or watch. If we wanted to eat, we had to beg for money.

There’s a certain amount of deference paid to a C.E.O. No one paid attention to me on the street. I consider myself a good communicator and a good salesman. It took me five hours of begging to raise less than a dollar. My entire concept of what is important changed. Time is usually my most valuable commodity, but for that 24 hours I had too much time. Forget Starbucks and a $4 latte – I walked two miles to find a 25-cent cup of coffee. We slept on concrete in an abandoned skate park.

Being out on the street was a life-altering experience. If more people would get involved, we could all be a powerful force for change.

To read the full article click here.