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Sunday September 24, 2017
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Groundcover's Crisis



Also on hand is Shelley, a lifelong Ann Arborite and a Pioneer High grad, slim, with pale blue eyes and a weary expression. Her last full-time job was answering phones at a local bank. Since being laid off in 2010, she's worked at a sub shop while cleaning offices at night. She got into selling Groundcover after meeting Rissa Haynes selling papers at a food pantry at Genesis, the shared synagogue/church building on Packard. Three months behind in her rent, Shelley decided to give Groundcover a try.

"It was scary," she says of her first few weeks on the streets, and she still takes it personally when people look away as they pass her. But the $200 or so she earns each month helps pay the bills. Her dream job, she says, would be to open her own business--a "roller rink!" she says, remembering how she loved roller-skating in high school. More realistically, an office job would look good.

The rewards of her work come, Beckett says, from "talking with the vendors when they're excited about an article they've written, or when they were able to help someone out"--she mentions Lonnie Baker, who helps frail customers cross the street--"or when they get keys to a place to stay." But does she ever wonder whether her all-consuming commitment is worth it? "At least once a month, I ask myself that."

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