How have you been adjusting since you’ve come home?
I haven’t sat still since I’ve gotten back. I’ve been working with StreetWise from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. Then I go to the Franciscan Outreach Association [to volunteer] from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. And that’s pretty much what I do for seven days of the week.
I understand you’ve been volunteering with the Franciscan Outreach for many years. What do you do there?
I do maintenance and I’m a handyman. I do dishes and help to organize things. I do whatever they need me to do. It keeps me out of trouble and keeps me away from the wrong crowds. I just enjoy seeing people have smiles on their face and I try to help them out in any way that I can.
Where do you sell StreetWise?
I sell in the same location that I was at [before I went to jail]. I’m at Damen, North Avenue and Milwaukee in the morning from 5 or 6 in the morning until 10 or 11 in the morning. And then from 7 at night to 8:30 at night I’m at the Walgreen’s at Walcott and Milwaukee.
Have you seen any of your former customers?
I’ve only seen a couple people and they’ve all welcomed me back and they’re happy I’m back. So I’m happy to be back. They make me feel welcome, because if I didn’t feel welcome, I probably wouldn’t go there and sell my papers. They’ve been really good to me. They’ve been helping me pay my rent, so they’re helping me stay off the street, period, just by being my customers.
What is your current goal?
Right now, I’m just trying to find steady housing. I’m currently living in a men’s motel downtown on Clark Street. I’m working with [Greg Pritchett, director of vendor services] to find something better and more stable. [My friend] Lawrence Brown, [also a StreetWise vendor], has been a big help.
That’s great that your friends at StreetWise support you…
They are a big support. They are. They look out for me when I need help. But I look out for them, too, when they need help.
What does both StreetWise and Franciscan Outreach mean to you?
When I came back, the Franciscan Outreach had open arms for me. They were more than willing to take me back and help me succeed. I use the case management there when I need to, as well. And StreetWise put me right back where I need to be… on my feet. They keep me going. I want to thank my customers and [both organizations] for their support. It’s helped me so much.