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Arnold Donaldson: Dancing through life

Wed, Jan 11, 2012

Arnold Donaldson

StreetWise Vendor Arnold Donaldson emulates sheer joy and an undeniably positive demeanor. His bright smile and cheery ways match up perfectly with his upbeat mindset.

“Ever since I’ve been at StreetWise [I started thinking positively]. StreetWise inspired me,” said Arnold. He is currently reading a book called The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, a book he’s already read several times. The ideas within this text have helped him to see each day as an opportunity rather than a challenge and he is taking it all in.

“If you want to be positive, the first step is to be happy… happiness is about choice. I think Abraham Lincoln put it best when he said that a person is as happy as he wants to be. You’ve got to choose happiness for yourself,” Arnold said.

But Arnold’s path to his contentedness was not all flowers and sunshine. He struggled with drug addiction and lived on the streets for nearly 20 years before he took action to change the cycle. He believes that his incarceration was the best thing that ever happened to him, because it allowed him to open his eyes and want to change.

“Thank God for jail… [That] really helped me because when I was in jail I prayed every day and asked God to help me if I ever get out of this situation. I promised God in jail that I would serve him until the day I die… and this is what I’ve been doing since I’ve been out,” Arnold said.

Arnold is a member of the Central Memorial Missionary Baptist Church (249 N. Kedzie Ave.) where he has found undying support through his parish and Pastor Benjamin Turke. The congregation actually pitched in to help him to afford to buy a car at a good rate from his pastor.

In return, Arnold volunteers with Memorial Missionary Baptist in many ways. He drives the church van every third Sunday and fifth Sunday to help the elderly and those who cannot transport themselves get to the service. He regularly visits elderly and sick members in local nursing homes. He also attends Sunday school each week and frequently goes to Bible study. Lastly, he has most recently joined the church choir and is very proud of his vocal progress. “The [choir director] hasn’t hollered at me in awhile, so I must be doing good!” Arnold said, jokingly.

Arnold is also working towards the goal of obtaining his commercial driver’s license so that he can operate tractor-trailers as another source of income. He has experience as a taxi cab driver and he wants to be prepared in case a job with the City of Chicago opens in the near future.

Because of his passion for God and involvement in the church, Arnold is also considering theology school. Many people in his parish have been encouraging him to work towards this goal because they believe he has the spirit. He is considering becoming a preacher or pastor.

In conclusion, Arnold said, “I’m so happy when I’m out there selling my papers. My spirits will always be up when I get out there and see the people and their smiling faces. And sometimes people [just walk right by me], but that makes me want to do better… because you can’t take it personally. You’ve always got to be positive.”

Written by Brittany Langmeyer,
StreetWise Staff


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