One of our dear vendors, Don Jones, passed away on January 30 at the St. Francis Hospital. He will be very much missed and was loved by many, including his Street Sheet customers. We received many calls and Facebook comments about how much Don meant to people.
2014 STREET SHEET VENDOR INTERVIEW
“I’m native to San Francisco but since me and my fiance separated, I landed in the Tenderloin. When I landed there, it was a new experience, but mostly a bad experience. I had to figure out a way to come up out of there. I had a couple jobs but when my son got killed, you know, it was a life changing experience. My son was born and raised in San Francisco and he went down to Compton to live with his grandmother. He got affiliated with the Bloods and became a Blood. He was 15 at the time…got killed by a twelve year old, got shot. That was a turning point in my life. That’s when I started doing this professionally, like a job, to not sleep on the street and take care of myself. I stay in contact with my daughters too—I have four.
This is my only income, so if I treat it as a job, I might get some positivity out of it, which I have. It makes my life a lot easier. Especially [because I’m] not living in the Tenderloin. I’ve been robbed and beaten up, I have no teeth, I have steel plates in both my jaws from living in the Tenderloin. I use this as income to keep a place to stay out of the Tenderloin.
I conduct myself professionally, I treat everyone nice and respectfully. If I’m not there, people ask me, “Where were you?” That’s a good feeling, you know, to know that people care. And there are a lot of compassionate people that care about me genuinely and I really respect and admire that.
I wanna thank and appreciate all the people that have helped me in the Russian Hill area. All of the people who have been behind me through all my turmoil.”
Remembering Don Jones
“Hi, Lady!”, is how Don would greet me as I would pass his block during my daily errands. He would ask how I was doing. Don was always polite, neatly dressed, a such a warm presence in Russian hill neighborhood. He welcomed everyone who passed with a friendly greeting. He could often be seen chatting with the men who hung out at Pete’s, or watching the dogs of neighbors who were shopping at Real Foods. In a city where people often are in a hurry, or are looking down at their phone, Don provided that much needed human connection. His death was so sudden and unexpected, and the block is a little less warm without him there. Don will be sorely missed. – Ivi
Don always had a smile and was quick with his signature laugh (ha HAAaa). He was a friendly face during my 7AM walks on Polk street. Condolences to friends and family. – Pete & Bumper
Those who live in the neighborhood Don (sometimes known as “ The Concierge of Polk Street”) most comprehensively occupied held a memorial gathering for him on Saturday, March 4th at the Peet’s coffee shop at 2139 Polk St (west side of Polk between Broadway and Vallejo). Peet’s graciously agreed to provide the space as well as light refreshments (including steamy sweet hot chocolate, Don’s favorite am beverage).
Over fifty community members showed up to remember Don Jones and share about what he meant to them. At the end of the memorial, people joined together to sing amazing grace.