Elizabeth Ball-Crudup & Darvin Chambliss
Elizabeth and Darvin became homeless when a fire broke out in the far North Side apartment building that they were going to move into the night before they arrived in Chicago. They were coming from South Bend, Indiana so that Darvin could take a warehouse job. Darvin ended up not taking the job, because he did not want to leave his wife alone on the streets as she suffers from epilepsy. “So we had to venture out and put our trust in God,” Elizabeth said. “Here we were in Chicago, homeless, we had each other; but most importantly, we had God on our side.”
The couple lived on the streets for many months, surviving by use of their knowledge and Darvin’s military skills. Darvin built the couple a cardboard box home about 3 feet by 6 feet from what he found in dumpsters. “We laid a four-inch thick base on the ground and put our blankets on top. At night he would stay up and let me sleep,” said Elizabeth. Together, they made it through the cold, the rain and the snow.
In October, the couple found StreetWise and – because of our resources and social service program – have been able to get back on their feet and make enough money to pay for a hotel each night while our organization works to find them permanent housing.
Today, the couple works diligently to give back to their community and help other homeless individuals get off of the streets, just as they did. “We could not forget where we had come from. We spent almost three months [on the street],” Elizabeth said. “And we are here to pass our blessings on. We were blessed, so why can’t we give back?”
Read Elizabeth and Darvin’s full story at
Chris Clements is 34 years old with a very young spirit and a friendly face. Although Chris’s good heart is the true essence of his character, he faces a disability that has caused him some trouble with the law, details of which he’d rather keep a private matter. “I have fetal alcohol syndrome. When you’re in the womb, your brain is not formed yet. So when the mother drinks, that alcohol is literally like acid to the baby [and] you get holes in the top of your brain, which affected my frontal lobe,” Chris explained.
His adopted mother, Carol, is a licensed psychotherapist with her own practice in Evanston. She and her husband both traveled to Portland, Oregon to receive special training in Chris’s disorder so they could give him the proper support that he needs. In his free time, Chris is also a patron of the theatre, having periodically worked backstage when he was younger as a technical and lighting assistant for Woolson Production Group.
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Wahid Rashad is a Neighbor Carts vendor who has had tremendous success with the program. He first heard about the opportunity through another non-profit organization that he was part of, Back on My Feet, which works to empower at-risk men and women through the art of running. “StreetWise Executive Director Jim LoBianco came and spoke to our running group and I said that it’s something I’m interested in, because I’m interested in the food culture and nutrition,” said Wahid.
Wahid’s past job experience has also made him an ideal candidate. He has been a salesman, a mortgage broker before the financial collapse, a sales manager with a telemarketing company, a work-release councilor, and a drug rehabilitation counselor. “Selling and interacting with people was never a problem,” he said.
He believes that the program has helped him immensely with his career. “It gives me a way to do what I’ve always done, which is to be of service to people. And so this is just a continuation. It helps me do something good for the community,” said Wahid
Read Wahid’s full story at