Posted by StreetWise in Vendor ProfilesNot even a serious injury can hold back StreetWise vendor Doug Golz. After suffering a hard fall on icy Chicago sidewalks, Golz was laid up with a broken hip for months before he could get around on his own again. “The lucky part is that I didn’t need any surgery; the way it broke, the bones were evenly matched,” he said. “But I was using a walker for about two months and I graduated to crutches, then to a cane and finally I could walk on my own.” As soon as he recovered, though, Golz suffered a stroke that left him in the hospital.
Despite the series of medical problems, Golz was able to come out on top of the situation. While living at Pacific Garden Mission, an opportunity presented itself, and Golz jumped at it. “I was still looking for some kind of work and I overheard a conversation about StreetWise, and how you can make some money there and put some money in your pocket everyday,” he said.
Selling StreetWise wasn’t exactly what Golz had imagined, though. “In the beginning, I wasn’t sure. I was not used to approaching it the right way and I didn’t do it very good.” But once he got more comfortable, things started to look up for Golz. “What I’ve sold since March, to date, some people don’t sell in a year. Once I really took it seriously, to see what I could do here, things started to turn,” he said. Golz also has the chance to get to know his customers on a more personal level, and some have become close friends. “Two weeks ago one of my customers took me to a Bears game with him,” Golz said. It had been nearly 25 years since the last time he went to a Bear’s game, and it was a remarkable day for Golz.
Sports are one of Golz’s many passions. Golz nearly made it to the big times, after playing minor league baseball for a year. “I had a scholarship for baseball in college and went to a tryout for the Yankees,” he said. “They called me back and said they wanted me. I was good in baseball my whole life until then and then I was seeing all the other players and I was horrible.” After seeing his competition, Golz retired and continued to play organized baseball for years. “I played organized baseball until I was about 46 years old but I gave it up after I hurt myself three times in a row.” After a torn hamstring, broken fingers and a nearly broken leg, Golz’s baseball days were over for good. Today, Golz continues to enjoy baseball and football as a spectator, but remembers his playing days fondly.
With things looking up, Golz hopes to find work and move into a new apartment soon. He recently qualified for Social Security Disability and will be able to move into a supportive housing unit at the end of the year. “Through [disability pay] and StreetWise I’ll be fine,” he said. “I’ll be able to buy stuff that I need for the apartment. I’ve already been ad-shopping.” For now, there is little standing in the way of Golz achieving his goals.
Written by Brittany Langmeyer