Posted by StreetWise in Vendor Profiles
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