Posted by StreetWise in Latest News
Herman Hatch is a laid-back, polite gentleman who always makes sure to ask how your day is. It’s hard to imagine him being anything less than genteel. But according to Herman, he’s come a long way and found hope again—both in himself and the world.
“I came to StreetWise back in ’92 when it first opened. At that particular time I was homeless (and had been for 6 months), I was on drugs.” Herman was in a bad place spiritually, and felt that the world had passed him by.
However, by selling StreetWise at a busy crosswalk, Herman felt he had legitimate means of employment. He also had to interact with thousands of people each day. The way those people reached out with empathy touched Herman, and he still speaks of people’s generosity with surprise and humility.
“StreetWise allowed me to meet a lot of people that even today if I needed their help, they’d be there for me. I call them [old customers] all the time. I would still be homeless if it weren’t for people I didn’t know. I would have been found frozen dead in an alley somewhere if it weren’t for people I didn’t know, people who cared enough. StreetWise opened my mind up so that I could see that.
“When you find out that somebody really cares about you, even if you’re on drugs…you feel that. People can be incredibly caring: they love you, but not necessarily the things that you do. Having a stranger put you up in the Palmer House so you don’t freeze, or take you to a restaurant to eat all you want…that goes a long way. It made me start trusting people.
“The incredible acts of kindness not only made me realize that people loved me, but God loved me too. The atmosphere around StreetWise inspired me to want to do better for myself. Even when I got other jobs, I’d still call down to the office to see how everybody was doing. It made me stronger and it gave me hope.”
Just a few months ago Herman came back to StreetWise after spending a year up in Wisconsin with family. “I got a daughter up there, and some grandkids. My granddaughter is 18 and just graduated from high school. They want me to be with them all the time, and they always call me.”
He’d rather stay active selling magazines that start to think about retirement. “I have a brother in a nursing home…I go to visit him, and I don’t like it. He just sits there in a dark room all day, the color of his skin is gone. I might be getting older, and we all die someday, but I’m not ready to live like that yet.”
Herman currently sells at Adams and Wabash. “I’m usually there at 5 in the morning until about 1…I don’t like panhandlers around when I’m selling, they’re disrespectful. They call begging easy money, but it’s not easy at all…because it’s a never-ending battle.
“To my customers: thanks for being so kind.”