The Nashville Bear who restored faith in people

the nashville bearIf you’ve ever wondered if the street newspapers were doing any good, then you need to read this story.

Mario Martinez lost his job and then his home almost six years ago.  Until last week, he had been living in a broken down trailer inside an abandon barn without running water or electricity.  Mario did not have much, but he had Bear, a Great Pyrenees, and a few other dogs.

Five years ago, Mario and Bear began selling The Contributor newspaper in Donelson.  Everyone loved Bear and he was the glue that kept subscribers coming back to Mario.

“Everybody notices him!” said Martinez of Bear. “He’s the one who made the money; I just collected it for him.”

They worked hard selling papers everyday to save enough to start a lawn mowing business.  Mario continued to work hard mowing lawns, selling newspapers and saving every penny he could.

When Mario and Bear had saved enough for a down payment on a home, he could not find anyone to take him and his home search seriously. 

Mario said, “I just want a home.  That’s all.”

Last week, Mario finally closed on his home in Charlotte, TN.  It is 2500 SF and sits on three acres.  So there is plenty of room for Mario, Bear and the other dogs. 

Brian Kemp, the Realtor that helped Mario said, “Mario helped me restore my faith in the people that are standing out on the street asking for money,” Kemp said. “I won’t look the other way anymore.”

The Contributor currently has 400 vendors selling papers on the street every day in Nashville.  And it’s proven to be so much more than a newspaper. 

The Contributor started out as a way to help homeless people move off the streets and into long term housing.  This simple paper has grown into a community of love and respect between our homeless population and the average Nashvillian. 

So the next time you see someone selling The Contributor, be sure to remember that you might be looking at the next Mario and Bear. 

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