Megaphone’s mission is to change the narrative on homelessness and poverty in their communities. Each year, more than 150 people experiencing poverty earn income working as vendors for their monthly magazine, the special Voices of the Street literary edition, and the annual Hope in Shadows calendar, created in the form of a day planner this year. We touched base with Megaphone to hear about their initiatives and how the community can support them.
Tell us about Megaphone and Hope in Shadows
Megaphone offers employment and empowerment to people experiencing poverty. We publish a monthly magazine and an annual day planner that are sold on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria by homeless and low-income vendors. Vendors buy each magazine for 75 cents and sell it for $2, and purchase each day planner for $10 and sell it for $20, keeping the profit. By selling Megaphone and Hope in Shadows, people experiencing poverty, homelessness, and other barriers to employment can earn income through meaningful, dignified work.
Every year, Megaphone puts more than $100,000 into vendors’ pockets. Through their work, they not only can provide for themselves and their loved ones, they are also advancing conversations on poverty and homelessness in their communities.
How has Megaphone/Hope in Shadows been impacted over the past 6-8 months as a result of the pandemic?
COVID-19 has affected the way we provide employment to our vendors. Selling Megaphone and Hope in Shadows makes up a significant portion of our vendors’ annual income.
From March to July, Megaphone had made the difficult decision to shut down street sales for the first time in its history, and pivoted to an online sales model. Income made through online sales goes into a general pool of funding, that is shared among all Megaphone active vendors and distributed on a bi-monthly basis.
Megaphone has also provided additional income opportunities for vendors, including extra content contribution and peer work like flyer distribution. Vendors have since resumed street sales, and are equipped with PPE to ensure the safety of their customers and themselves.
You recently interviewed one of the vendors to learn about their involvement with this initiative. Can you share with us the impact this work has had on her life?
Suzanne Kilroy, also known as the Indian Princess Suzanne, has been with Megaphone for 12 years. Suzanne started because she wanted to turn over a new leaf and begin a healthier life and work away from the streets, looking to earn income in a different way. She shared that as a Megaphone vendor, she gets to do a lot of things and meet many people she wouldn’t have otherwise met, and her mental and emotional health has completely turned around. Suzanne is now writing and doing her own art, and still drumming and singing in her native language.
How has Vancity supported Megaphone throughout the pandemic, and more broadly as a community partner?
Vancity has been a community partner, an advocate, and a friend to Megaphone and Hope in Shadows for many years, providing much-needed funding support for Megaphone and its programming before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensuring that our program can continue to operate even during this challenging time. Many Vancity branches also act as Megaphone and Hope in Shadows depots for Megaphone vendors, providing vendors convenient locations to purchase day planners at a Vancity branch near them.
Do you have any initiatives that you would like our readership to know about?
This year, Megaphone has re-designed the beloved Hope in Shadows calendar into a conveniently-sized day planner. It features memo space, tear away cards to share with your friends, beautiful neighbourhood photos, stories, and so much more. If you are able, please purchase a day planner from a vendor near you – it is the absolute best way to support them. The day planner retails for $20, and $10 of each purchase goes to the vendor. You can find and pay a vendor through the Megaphone app: find.megaphonemagazine.com, or order online, along with a range of other Megaphone products to support our vendors: https://www.megaphonemagazine.com/buy_online.
Where can people learn more about Megaphone and find your vendors?
Facebook: Megaphone Magazine
Vendors near a Vancity branch:
Eric: 1st & Commercial
Suzanne: 26th & Main
Julianna: 10th & Cambie
Peter: 4th & Vine