Our Vendors 

Vendor making his father proud

Mon, Jun 6, 2011


By Ben Cook StreetWise Staff

Don Smith is a beloved, hardworking vendor who sells at Dearborn and Maple. He’s built a relationship with his customers over his years as a vendor—a relationship he counted on to help him through a recent rough patch.

Don articulates clearly his recent struggle, “My father passed January 19th; he was 89. I’ve been trying to help my 80-year-old mom around the house. I don’t think it’s really hit her yet. They were married for 59 years. We’re still a good family, and we’ve been helping each other. I was my father’s caretaker and I was really close to him. He was my best friend. I did my best to make his last days as pleasant as could be because he was a good man and took care of me.”

There was some surprise concerning the burial. Don and his family thought his father had insurance. Don explains, “He told us he did, but he didn’t. He was so proud that he didn’t let us know.”

Although he’s sad, Don is more focused on the special bond he had with his dad. “I miss my father but I know he’s in a better place. He’s in big mansion in the sky now: no more pain, and no more bills. I always look up and say, ‘dad, if I do some- thing wrong, tell me.’ He used to tell me to always keep my head up.”

Don, who turned 51 April 19, is inspired by how well his father aged. “I’m trying to be healthy and take care of myself. He [Don’s father] was healthy until the very end when he had a stroke”

Although he’s clearly thinking about his dad all the time, Don is quick to acknowl- edge how important his StreetWise customers are to him.

“Now my customers are my next family. A lot of my customers showed up at my father’s memorial. To those who came, I want to say thank you for your blessings, and all the support they’ve given me over the years. If you ever need my help for anything they can count on me.”
Despite his recent setback, he remains focused and motivated to maintain his pos- itive momentum.

“StreetWise makes me proud of myself, because I’m not out there asking for a handmeout. I’m asking for a hand me up. It’s helping me get on my feet. I’m a little bit behind because of the funeral, but I’m trying to make sure I give a little back. I help people cross the street and stuff like that. I’m like the mayor of my little block, and my customers are always supportive and concerned about me. When I was struggling in January they gave me lots of hugs.”

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