The paragraph below is the beginning of an essay written not by a homeless person, despite what it might sound like. It is actually an essay by a 16-year-old gifted student who is a junior in high school. Alix Glynn spent two weeks participating in Impact Boston — a community service, social action and advocacy summer program — which included one day of living the life of a homeless person. He was one of 13 people selected to work with Spare Change News — Boston’s alternative newspaper written and sold by the homeless to support themselves and encourage change.
After the program, he began volunteering at a local homeless shelter, something he might not have done had he not experienced how a smile and “Have a good day” can mean even more than a few quarters in a cup.
It’s a quintessential summer day, and Boston Commons is abuzz with activity. Across the avenue I carefully scrutinize the passers-by — a 20-something quickly moving her designer messenger bag to her other side, a middle-age man wearing a Red Sox cap clutching his young son closer, a group of teenagers staring as if I had two heads and five eyes, a college student typing on his smart phone almost stepping right over me and not bothering to apologize. Eventually, a woman drops a few quarters in my cup, but she scurries past before I even have a chance to say thank you.