Posted by StreetWise in Vendor ProfilesScott Elders has learned that putting his faith in God can get him through the worst of times. In his adult life, Scott fell into a severe pattern of alcoholism, which caused his marriage to fall apart. Then, several years back, Scott was in a nearly fatal car accident when he fell asleep at the wheel of his vehicle and was hit by a semi-truck.
After the accident, Scott’s alcoholism worsened and he eventually became homeless. “I believe in the good Lord and I believe in his strength,” Scott said, explaining how he managed to keep his faith, despite the odds.
One day, while he was panhandling at Clark and Lake Streets, Scott met Russell Adams, a long-time StreetWise vendor. He found hope in what Russell told him about StreetWise and decided to try it himself.
Since that day, Elders has worked diligently to get himself cleaned up, off the streets and into stable housing. He no longer struggles with alcohol and is able to have a few drinks now and then without losing control. He also became involved with the Franciscan Outreach Association at about the same time he joined StreetWise.
“Franciscan helped me to come from being homeless to having a home, so I’ve been giving back. I’ve been working for Franciscan Outreach and volunteering. I cook all the time for the Outreach. We make up the menu and I make whatever they want me to make,” Scott said.
And thanks to StreetWise, Scott will soon be able to cake his cooking to the next level. “StreetWise is going to refer me over to the Inspiration Cafe so that I can get my cooking degree. That way, I’ll be able to help the Outreach a little more,” Scott said.
However, in order to be eligible to go to the Inspiration Cafe, Scott will have to move from his temporary residence in Aurora back into the city of Chicago. That is his nearest goal and he hopes that, with the help of both StreetWise and the Franciscan Outreach, he’ll be able to relocate very soon.
After he perfects his cooking skills, Scott has an even bigger dream he hopes to achieve. “I got a job offer from a guy I met through the Outreach. He wants to open up a restaurant and have me run it and give me free room and board. I don’t know if that’s going to go through or not, but it’s one thing in progress. We went and looked at a place last week. It looks like he’s sincere about it, so all I can do is keep my hopes up,” Scott said.
Scott has also grown as a person since he was able to get off of the streets. “Between StreetWise and the Outreach, I’ve grown quite a bit and learned how to communicate with people. I used to be a ‘Billy Badass’ when I was growing up, so I didn’t get along with anybody. So I kind of did a 180-degree turn and now I get along with people and like people more than I did when I was younger. I just got older and got in the right positions with StreetWise. Plus, my customers are really supportive,” Scott said.
Scott hopes to always volunteer and help others now that he’s back on his feet. “I was on the streets and, before I found somebody that could help me, I had nobody to turn to. Now that I found myself a home, I can help others like I’ve been helped. A lot of homeless people know me and know I was on the street. So I’m trying to inspire them to do something for themselves. If they see me doing it, they can do it too, because I don’t see why they couldn’t if I can,” Scott said.
Written by Brittany Langmeyer