StreetWise Vendor Murry Mills came to know .life on the streets at the early age of 13 when he became involved with drugs. But after years of experiencing homelessness, time in jail and the struggle to support his family, he knew he had to clean up his act. He came to StreetWise nearly 20 years ago and the organization has not only allowed him to survive, but to survive with dignity. He currently sells his magazines at Broadway and Barry, in front of 7/11.
How did you come to StreetWise?
I became homeless for the simple fact that I was out there selling drugs. [My apartment caught on fire] and so I went underground, started being homeless. Then I started seeing these cats with these badges during church services. I’m like, wait a minute. I see these cats smiling every day and counting their money and counting their papers. So finally, I just told them, “Look, whatever you’re all doing, I want in.” So they [told me where the StreetWise office was]. They said, “Sit down and do orientation and after you do orientation, they’ll give you 10 free papers. And they give you an orange training badge and when you conquer all of that, then you’ll be like us. So I went and I did it.
What skills have you learned from selling StreetWise magazine?
I’ve learned a lot from StreetWise. I’ve mostly learned how to run a franchise, how to run a business, how to be a corporation. I mean, not just a one-man corporation, because it takes you all. If it weren’t for [the staff at StreetWise], we wouldn’t have a product. So a corporation is everybody, not just us vendors.
Tell me about your children…
I have three biological children. My son Denzel is 21 now and he’s playing football at Michigan State. He’s studying to be an engineer. My son Darias is 16 and he lives in Tacoma, Washington with his grandmother and plays football and basketball, all-city, all-state. My daughter Fantasia is 12 and she’s tall like me. She’s just trying to be a nice little girl and she’s already got her life straight. Her goal is a career studying animals and becoming a veterinarian. I keep her close to me. She stays with me and her mother. I am very proud of them. I’ve always [stressed to them], don’t mess with drugs. Don’t mess with them.
What other jobs have you worked?
I worked as a machine operator at Midwest Canvas in Cicero until the company fizzled out. I’m working to get my record expunged right now [so I can continue to look for other jobs]. I’m just working towards living life and not trying to mess up nothing. I’m trying to make good decisions and trying to make a gainful employment.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m an easy-going guy and I’m very nice and very content. [My mantra] is to stay positive and keep honor with myself, my family and with the people around me.
By Brittany Langmeyer