By Sarah Harvey | Photo by Jesse Borrell
If you’ve ever spent time on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, chances are you’ve met Jerry Rosen. And chances are Jerry has brightened your day with his gracious, gentle demeanor.
Though Jerry has been in Colorado for more than two decades, he is a transplant, originally from Jackson Heights, Queens, in New York City. His father was a doctor and his mother was an art teacher before she had children. Jerry grew up with two siblings, a sister who has passed away, and a twin brother, who he still visits regularly. Family is very important to Jerry.
Jerry first came to Colorado in the early 90s. He had a job as a dishwasher at a resort in Silverthorn, but he had trouble making ends meet. The first time Jerry stayed at the Boulder shelter was sometime in the 90s—he doesn’t remember exactly when. The Boulder shelter has been his home many times during the past 20 years, whenever he hasn’t been able to stay with friends or family. Jerry has never slept outside, though.
“I would be staying with my parents right now if they were still around,” said Jerry, whose housing and employment situation is made more complicated by a disability that he prefers not to go into detail about.
Jerry has worked as a dishwasher, a groundskeeper, a custodian, and even a telemarketer over the years, but it has been difficult for him to find permanent employment. Sometime in the late 90s or early 2000s Jerry’s friend Bruce Wright introduced him to the Denver VOICE.
The current version of the VOICE dates back to 2007, but there was an earlier version of the paper that ceased publication in 2006. Jerry and Bruce were some of the first people to sell the original VOICE.
In those days, the VOICE was distributed out of the DenUM building on Colfax. Jerry would take the bus down from Boulder to pick up papers.
“I like working for myself,” said Jerry of his job as a vendor. He likes the freedom of setting his own hours, though he frequently picks up odd jobs as a dishwasher or groundskeeper, too. Jerry also likes to volunteer at SAME Café, where he sometimes busses tables for food.
With his income from the VOICE, Jerry is able to get the things he needs. A few times a year he is even able to save enough to go visit his twin brother David, who works as a dishwasher in Oklahoma. David has a similar disability.
Jerry has been able to watch the VOICE evolve over the past two decades. One of his favorite issues was the first issue of the resurrected paper, published in August 2007. He also enjoys the puzzles and thinks the resource list is important.
Though he thinks he would like to be closer to his family, Jerry is still trying to figure out where the best place is for him. “I’m still in the midst of deciding a few things,” said Jerry, “but I have some goals.” One of those goals is to get more experience doing clerical work—or maybe even to go back to school to learn more about computers.
Jerry is very thankful for his job with the VOICE. “I have so much to be thankful for,” said Jerry. “The VOICE makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.” ■