Posted by StreetWise in Vendor Profiles
How long have you been a StreetWise Vendor?
I’ve been at StreetWise for only a month. I sell my magazines at Wrightwood and Racine in Lincoln Park, near a park where I used to sleep. There’s a Starbucks there and I’d use their wi-fi. And I would sleep under the tree. During the summer it was fine. I’d been homeless for about seven or eight months.
How did you become homeless?
I was a truck driver for about six years. Then new laws came into effect and they were getting rid of loose ends and I guess I was a loose end. Then [my wife and I] started arguing and I had depression that I’ve had all my life. Then my [wife and stepson] left and I lost my apartment. It kind of felt like I deserved it for some reason. I don’t think anybody deserves real hardship. They put themselves in the hardship and won’t rise above it. But it’s possible.
What was the moment that you realized you needed help?
When it started getting cold. And also because I need to get myself together for myself and for my family and for everybody. But mostly for me, because I can do it. I have big plans.
What plans are those?
Well, the biggest plan is just to be able to get back in a real place to live. Because I want to be a good example for my [step-]son. I want him to look up to me.
In what ways has StreetWise helped you so far?
[They’ve helped me take] baby steps. Greg [Pritchett, Director of Vendor Services] helped me find a place to sleep at night. I stay at a men’s hotel that he referred me to. And I was able to buy a [Christmas] present for my son. A little present might not seem like a lot to people, but just to send a present, that’s big. It was a Thomas the Train set and it said “biggest set yet” on the box. I know it may sound silly… StreetWise has been a blessing, just being able to do something for myself and my family.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I would love to cook if I had a kitchen right now. I love cooking. I do Italian food and soups, especially. I like making chicken noodle soup and chili. I’m also learning to play the harmonica. I love the Blues.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I wanted to talk a little bit about my son and autism. I just want more people to talk about it and understand it more. He has a high-functioning type, so he’s very social and does really good in school. I just think autism should be more talked about. And be patient with [anyone who has autism]. I love my son with all my heart.
I’d also like to thank my customers and tell them that I’m just so grateful for their kind support. I couldn’t come to this point without them and it touches me. Some of them are like my family and I’m very grateful for the friends I’ve met.
By Brittany Langmeyer,