Posted by StreetWise in Magazine Articles
Donald Morris has been with StreetWise for almost 11 years and currently sells at the intersection of Clark and Wilson during the week, and on Dickens Street during weekends. His dreams of working with animals are a testament to his patient character and kind heart.
Are you from Chicago?
Born and raised. If you live in a place like this you need to keep filling the gaps in between jobs to keep things going. That’s a good lesson [to learn] before you leave here; that way, when you go to the next place you won’t make that many mistakes.
How did you become homeless?
Homelessness came about because I was staying with a grandnephew and he was utilizing my name to set up accounts and bills. One day he got beside himself and put me out. I was in a wheelchair at the time, and StreetWise is what picked me up. Not just the customers, but the social services too. I’ve been going through different contacts and referrals to get an apartment and keep an apartment. [With StreetWise’s help], the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) has gotten me a Section 8 lease on an apartment. I’m doing what I need to keep it, and I’m keeping the bills paid with StreetWise. I’m still working and wrestling with the credit issues. I have a big debt because of him falsely using my identity, but I’m doing what I can to keep things straight in line.
What does it take to be a good vendor? Do you have any tips?
It takes patience and the ability to be teachable. You just have to be out there and present your product and let people know what you have. Don’t be afraid to step out, but do it in a nice manner. You have to be convincing to people weekly that this is the paper to buy. It’s a magazine that helps unemployed and homeless people to get off their feet, to stand up for themselves, and to not look for handouts all the time. StreetWise vendors have to apply themselves on a daily basis.
Do you have any goals?
It’s not a matter of having goals, it’s a matter of doing what you have to do now. For me, my belief in God and the universe is more important than anything in life. In five years, I hope to be in better standing with Him. I want to be at peace with Him and at peace with my fellow man.
Do you have any type of work you’re looking to go into?
I’d like to train animals or groom them. I’m looking into current programs around my neighborhood and in the city. I love animals and that’s the way I want to go, but I have to do some training first. [I’m hoping to help out] at the local kennels in the neighborhood.
Do you have any pets?
No, but my customers have them. The animals are always ready for a new friend. They leave their pets with me and allow me to talk to them. I give them massages and some of them even do tricks. Nobody really believes me, but some of them actually respond when you say something to them. You have to have the innateness to do it.
Anything else you want to say?
Remember to learn and plan. Live life for what it is and freely work your boundaries. Do what you need to do with what you’re given. Don’t give up on life. Live for yourself and inspire yourself with the positive progress you make. You have to examine the progress that you do make and try not to stay in the same place all the time.
Story & Photo by Marissa Diekhoff