The Memphis Bridge Newspaper: Good All-Around

Posted on October 26, 2014

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By: Julia Schiciano

1_sThe goal of The Memphis Bridge Newspaper, which was launched in August of 2012 and founded by Rhodes College students Evan Katz and Caroline Ponseti, is to provide jobs to the homeless population of Memphis and spread awareness about homelessness throughout the city. The newspaper consists of stories, articles, and creative pieces about homelessness, non-profits, social issues, and other hot topics that are either written by individuals who have experienced homelessness itself or by the staff of the paper.  The Bridge not only highlights issues surrounding homelessness around the world, but it also focuses on the issue of homelessness right here in our city of Memphis. Once produced, the homeless, in order to make profit and support themselves, sell copies of The Bridge. Often, homeless vendors will sell at local farmers markets, at citywide festivals, and on popular streets or events.  The vendors of The Bridge go through training in order to sell the newspaper, which is produced monthly and sold for one dollar. This process provides those who are struggling with poverty and homelessness a stable source of income. The Bridge is modeled after other successful street-newspapers that exist in cities such as Nashville, New York, and Washington D.C., and its influence is sure to spread to other large cities struggling with similar issues. 

In late September, “Under One Roof,” a fundraiser held for The Memphis Bridge Newspaper, was a huge success. At the event, student volunteers, parents, and homeless writers or vendors came together to celebrate the hard work that has been done to create the success that is The Bridge, as well as raise money and spread awareness of homelessness. Caroline Ponseti, Director of Publicity and Media for The Bridge and student at Rhodes College, stated that it was a “wonderful night of meaningful conversation, which was made even better by great food and a jazz ensemble of Rhodes students.” Almost all of The Bridge newspapers are completed by Rhodes volunteers (unless noted otherwise), which are then distributed to homeless vendors who sell the papers to provide themselves with a sustainable and stable income. In order to raise more funds “which will go to expanding our vendor incentive program, increasing the paper’s circulation, and marketing the paper to potential vendors,” says Ponseit, the fundraiser also included silent auctions with homeless-themed artwork that ended up raising $6,000 in total. Ponseti states that with this money, the staff of The Bridge plans to “provide a voice and sustainable income to people who have fallen into the cycle of homelessness.” This newspaper, which doubles as both an amazing undertaking by a group of volunteers and a business initiative that contributes to the betterment of Memphis and it’s homeless population, is making a change in the city of Memphis. Not only does it provide those struggling with homelessness with a stable income and educate the population of Memphis about this pressing issue, but it brings communities of people from all over Memphis together, aiding in the education and awareness of issues surrounding homelessness and how to aid in the problems surrounding it.

For more information on how to volunteer, distribution centers, or getting involved in The Bridge and learning about its goals, go to memphisbridge.com.

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