Posted by StreetWise in Vendor Profiles
StreetWise Vendor James Oliver Peebles, Jr. is 58 years old and enjoys the simple things in life. He vends his magazines at Lincoln and Irving Park Road and has been with the organization for over five years and hopes to continue until he retires.
Why did you come to StreetWise? I was waiting for my disability to come in [because I have seizures] and, until then, I wanted something to do. That’s when I came to StreetWise.
What has your experience with StreetWise been like? It’s been good. I’ve met a lot of people [and] I’ve learned a lot of good things, especially a lot about people and their kindness. Sometimes they’ll say, ‘I can’t buy a magazine from you today, but I’ll catch you next time.’ And most of them usually do. Also, some people think that if you work for StreetWise, then you’re begging. But I’m not begging and [I’m not homeless].
Do you have many long-standing customers? Well, I used to work in the neighborhood [that I vend my magazines in now] maybe about 10 years ago. I was a security guard at Unique Thrift Store. And a lot of the people [that buy from me now], I recognize from the thrift store. And I talk to them and some of them are good customers. They stop and talk to me sometimes and I like to take the time to talk.
What do you think has been your greatest challenge in life? The greatest challenge I’ve faced in my life is when I got back into church and started believing in myself. I stopped being rebellious against people because things didn’t go my way. And just learning to deal with life as it comes.
Can you give an example of how you did that? When I was first separated from my wife and I couldn’t deal with not being around her and not knowing what she was doing. But I knew that God would take care of me, no matter what happens. God was going to take care of me.
How did you overcome that? I stayed busy, kept working and kept my mind off of negative things and kept my mind on positive things. I go to church every Sunday and meet new people and do the things that I’m supposed to do.
What motivates you? What makes me want to do more is what I haven’t done yet or had a chance to do. And I want to sell people the magazines so they can read the things they want to hear and need to hear from StreetWise. They need to read the whole magazine, because I’ve read it and some things I didn’t realize was happening. Most of the things I wasn’t even aware of. There are so many homeless people out here and so many drugs being sold.
What would you say to others to encourage them to come to StreetWise? StreetWise is an organization that you can keep from being homeless or becoming homeless again. You can be independent. It’s a job. I’m glad I ran into StreetWise.
Written by Brittany Langmeyer & Suzanne Hanney