If you’ve shopped at the Lloyd Center Safeway during the past few months, you’ve probably seen George Burdine selling Street Roots outside, lifting the spirits of passersby and shoppers.
One of the first things one notices about George is his large spirit. Quick to jokes and laughter, George has made many friends, not only at the Lloyd Center Safeway, but among his fellow Street Roots colleagues as well.
Born and raised in a small coastal town in Washington, George has lived in Portland on and off for nearly a decade. “I’m helping keep Portland weird,” he says with a smile.
A structural welder by trade, George has been out of work due to an injury and a competitive job market that favors technological skills.
“I don’t know what I would do without Street Roots,” he tells me. “I don’t believe in entitlement, I want to work.”
Throughout our conversation, a jovial George makes jokes about “being a homeless guy,” but recounts in earnest just how differently strangers treat him since he has fallen on hard times. Despite the daily displays of prejudice, George still loves people.
“Homelessness is a day-to-day thing,” he says. “That’s just where I’m at right now, and I take it in stride.”
A father, a grandfather, a creative, a friend, George is so much more than the “homeless” label he is forced to laugh off, over and over again, every day. If you see George or any other vendor selling the paper, greeting customers as they pass by, take the chance to say hello and get to know the person behind the label. To all of his supporters and those whom he has yet to meet, George says, “God bless everyone and make sure to buy Street Roots from a badged vendor!
And to George I say, thank you for brightening the days of all those you meet and for all of the hard work that you do.