SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Before dawn at the Julian Street Inn shelter in San Jose, Cedric Baltrip rises as others sleep for the nearly two-hour bus trip to his new job at a Mountain View, Calif., computer firm.
But he doesn't mind the long ride. He knows it's his road back from homelessness to hopefulness.
"I wouldn't trade it for anything," he said last Friday, sitting at his shipping-and-receiving desk at HSD Microcomputers. "Right now, the company's young and it's small. But it's growing, and I intend to grow with it."
The 39-year-old Mr. Baltrip got a lift on his homeward journey from a San Jose newspaper published by the homeless and an HSD executive who sees the homeless as an untapped resource -- not a liability.
He was hired Tuesday after HSD Chief Financial Officer Dave Marquez read of efforts by the month-old Streetlights newspaper to forge an alliance between the homeless and business communities.
"The misconception that homeless people are worthless is wrong," Mr. Marquez said. "If you give something to people that they're proud of, they'll go with it."
"Homelessness is a problem that is faced throughout the United States and if everybody does a little bit, maybe we can help make a dent or eliminate the problem," said HSD President David Peter, who added that "Cedric is working out great."
Marvin Burnell, who was homeless once, began publishing Streetlights in April with a simple goal: "To make a difference in one person's existence."
Mr. Marquez read about the crusading staff of homeless people and volunteers and called the publisher, asking for shipping clerk applicants.