Our Vendors 

Michael Dunbar: Getting it together

Thu, May 10, 2012

Michael Dunbar, 47, has a positive new out¬look on life. After years of substance abuse, incarceration and homelessness, he has turned over a new leaf. Dunbar has been vending for StreetWise for about six months.

“I used to see vendors selling StreetWise when I was out there in the streets, homeless and hustling down by Union Station,” Dunbar said. “Believe it or not, one day I had a premonition that I would actually become a StreetWise vendor. It was like a dream. I could just visualize and see myself in the future getting ready to become a StreetWise vendor.”

Dunbar met StreetWise Vendor Representative Percy Smith, and found a mentor. “Actually, what drew me to StreetWise was the way Percy Smith carries himself,” Dunbar said. “I can say he has a warm, beautiful spirit and he definitely has en¬couraged me.”

When Dunbar was last released from the penitentiary, he found assistance through several social service organizations. He stayed at St. Leonard Ministries for the first six months. St. Andrew’s Court, next door, housed him after that for a portion of his income. He also took advantage of a job readiness program through the Inspiration Corporation.

“They provide housing and clothing,” Dunbar said. “You have counseling groups that you go to for the first 120 days there. They have Adler School students who are studying to become psychiatrists. You work with them and have a one-on-one with them each week. I remember the first StreetWise Magazine I sold was to [my friend] Sarah. I am still friends with [her]. She’s actually my case manager.”

Dunbar has grown children, as well as a 6-year-old and a baby boy on the way. His family serves as inspiration to change his lifestyle.

“I’m getting older now,” Dunbar said. “I have grandkids. I’ve been running away from responsibility pretty much all my life. I started looking at the aftermath of my choices and decisions I’ve made. I decided it was time to get it together. I’m very excited for this particular child on the way. I would like to be there from the time he’s born until I close my eyes into eternity. I don’t want him to have to experience what the rest of my kids experienced.”

“I’m starting to learn about myself going to the NA meetings and AA meetings. I’ve matured in recovery. I know I’m going to be OK this time. I’m being really positive and I try to surround myself with people that are positive. I’m taking it one moment at a time.”

Dunbar’s life has been coming together with the support of friends and family. His short term goals are to become debt free and to continue with his sobriety. He has found residence in a two-bedroom apartment on the South Side. This month, he returns to work at Gethsemane Gar¬den Center. He also wants to continue to reconnect with his family and present himself as a posi¬tive example.

“At this point, the sky is the limit,” Dunbar said. “One thing about being a vendor – I’m a people person. I love to interact with people. Working here at StreetWise has given me the opportunity to work on my social skills. Sometimes, people say things that are not encouraging. You just have to have a mindset not to let it affect you. I’m learning how to do this. It’s challenging, but so far so good. And, I still tell them to take care and have a nice day. I’m in the process of learning how to deal with the issues of life in a healthy way rather than an unhealthy way.”

Written by Andrew Marciniak & Brittany Langmeyer
StreetWise Editorial Intern & StreetWise Staff

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5 Responses to “Michael Dunbar: Getting it together”

  1. Pearl Sanchez says:

    He was really nice and informative. It’s nice hearing about someone cleaning themselves up and making a change in their life. Very inspirational to hear that he’s trying and providing for his family in this tough time

  2. Courtney says:

    Great guy. Was very nice to talk to. I wish him and his family the best.

  3. Carole says:

    I met Michael this weekend, he was on the street asking for money for food. He told us about his life and what has happened to him. I can agree he is a people person. He was very polite. But I am afraid his hard work is moving back in the wrong direction. His movements, his actions, and his glossed over blood shot eyes, along with his ability to not speak but slurred. I hope he gets back on track. May God heal Michael and I wish him all the best.

  4. Reggie says:

    Met Mr. Dunbar at 7-eleven on Southport. I seemed like a good guy. He asked me to check out his profile and I did. I wish you all of God’s blessings on your daily journey.

  5. Leslie says:

    I met Mr. Dunbar as I was going into Barnes and Noble before Christmas. He impressed me with his openness and very positive attitude. I was not in a particularly “happy” mood but by the end of our conversation he had me smiling. I was going to comment on him that day but by the time I got home I had forgotten his name (I always have trouble remembering names).

    I ran into him again today and he remembered me from that one meeting almost a month ago. Again, I was in one of those moods and again, after talking to Mr. Dunbar I found myself uplifted.

    First thing he asked me was how my holidays had been. We talked about other things, things that he had accomplished in the month or so since I last saw him. I was impressed by his professional appearance, his good spirits, his intelligence and his ease to talk to people.

    As I was driving away it all of a sudden it hit me that the first words we spoke today were his question to me about my holidays. In all that he could have said, his attention was directed toward my life and then later, his.

    With this positive attitude and engaging ways, I can see a great future for him if he stays on this path. It may not be the easiest but I am impressed at the strength he has to keep pushing himself in a good direction.

    Oh, and thank you Mr Dunbar for sharing a part of your life with me. It was a pleasure to have spoken with you and I hope that every day that passes, you come closer and closer to your dream and make it your reality!

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