About This Project

Jerry Ellis is a native Philadelphian and father of one. He has been selling One Step Away for a little over five years. Although Jerry’s a unique individual, like a lot of One Step Away vendors, Jerry found himself at the doors of One Step Away in search of dignity and self-sufficiency. After a long stretch of joblessness, Jerry was on the brink of losing hope, and the honest qualities he gained with his sobriety. His last job as a dental clinic client solicitor ended badly, without him even receiving his last two weeks of pay. Shortly after, Jerry found himself homeless. He admits there are obstacles at this point that hinder his return to work, the most challenging being his inquisitiveness and sense of adventure. Jerry finds it difficult to maintain a typical 9 to 5, unsure if it’s the length of time he has been employed with the paper or something else. One thing he is sure of, is that One Step Away has restored his hope. Although housing is still a challenge, he finds it therapeutic to live life in the here and now, not wanting to reflect on the past horrors that catapulted him into his present situation. Reflections of the past, according to Jerry, is not going to get him anywhere; it is how we spend our time now that is important. As with all of us, Jerry has bad days, and when times get difficult, working with the paper is what motivates him to get out of bed. The interactions with his patrons, who obviously care a lot about him, he said, “brighten his day.” As we stood on the corner of 19th & Chestnut, numerous customers greeted Jerry with the warmth and kindness of a dear friend or family member. Marva, a faithful customer, stated, “Jerry is very honest and intelligent, and that she can always depend on him to have her latest issue of the paper.” Another patron by the name of Kathy stated, “she can count on Jerry to make her feel good about her hair.”

As you can see, it is indeed possible to find a light at the end of the tunnel, and Jerry has not only found that light, he is clearly basking in it.

Start Date



19th & Walnut


Philadelphia, PA