It’s fair to say that most StreetWise vendors have faced challenges in their lives. Few, however, can say they’ve come out of them with as much optimism as Cloceal Holman. She’s recently had fairly serious surgery, which left her temporarily unable to speak, had her mother enter a state-run nursing home, and is still struggling with her bills. Still, she says of facing down her challenges that: “I think it’s made me a stronger person; it’s made me a wiser person. It’s made me feel that helping people who can’t do things for themselves is important in this world, especially when you get older and you can’t do things for yourself.” She brings this can’t-lose attitude to work every day, selling StreetWise magazine in front of the Walgreens at a new site for her: Halsted and Monroe.
She plays as good a game as she talks, when it comes to helping people: She works with Helping Homes, a home care organization that provides essential services to elderly clients. It’s just the kind of thing she’d hope that people would do for her if she needs it. “Those things can happen to not only those people, but to me,” she says.
It’s not the kind of job someone does because they enjoy the day-to-day part of it. Duties include dressing and bathing the clients, as well as cooking, cleaning house, and helping people with daily life, yet Cloceal Holman sticks with it. Knowing that she’s helping people is enough. Though she is between clients right now, and needs two more to be employed full-time, she plans to work there until she can retire.
She can’t spend all her time helping people, of course. Sometimes, just like everyone else, she has to kick back and enjoy a movie. Men in Black 3 was a favorite, but after the recent shooting at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises, her favorite hobby has become bittersweet. “I was always a movie person, and then this incident that happened in Colorado … It kind of hurt me a little bit,” she said. Still, she has faith that movies can help people. “Some of those movies really have a realistic background to them, and seeing them, that can help [people] realize things that the world is doing right now.” Of course, there’s room for escapist movies, like Madagascar as well. “The whole family can go to those kind of movies,” she says. “It’s helping us mentally and physically, helping us to get rid of some of our inhibitions and stress.”
Selling StreetWise, as you might expect, has its stressful moments. Still, Cloceal can’t help but be optimistic and look to the brighter side of her job. “Sometimes it hurts your feelings when people turn you down … but there are so many people out there that are looking for StreetWise magazine,” she says. “Sometimes they say ‘here’s $5, here’s $10,’ and I’m like ‘oh the paper’s only two,’ but they feel that they know that you’re needy, and that you have bills, or that you’re near homeless or homeless.” It’s this kind of kindness that keeps her going, and makes sure that there will always be more vendors like her out there in the world.
Duncan Reilly, StreetWise Editorial Intern