A man with a title is certainly respected but a man with a story behind that title is an example.
Marvin Byrd is that example to all the vendors at StreetWise magazine because Byrd was once a vendor. Byrd is a Medical Detox Program Manager at the Methodist Hospital of Chicago where he now is proud to say it is what he does for a living.
“People think I walked into this position I have now,” Byrd said. “I kept getting promoted and just stayed focused all these years.”
It was a journey for Byrd to get into this position because at one point he thought he had lost everything in life.
“I was an 8 year veteran coming out of the army after I was discharged and after that I went through a divorce with my wife,” Byrd said. “I was feeling like I was losing the so called ‘American Dream’ and I lost that all through drugs and alcohol. This is when I started panhandling out in the street.”
Having lost everything, Byrd panhandled in order to get enough money to buy more drugs and alcohol and it wasn’t that long until he met Verne Cooper.
“One of the StreetWise vendors who I ran across as I was panhandling at his location and he was like ‘why don’t I try selling StreetWise instead of begging people for money?’” Byrd said. “He has since passed away but he was one that pulled me up and let me know about StreetWise.”
Byrd did not only like the idea of selling the paper in exchange for money but he also felt like he had some self-respect.
“I admired how Cooper everyday would sell these StreetWise papers and so I approached him and got the information on StreetWise,” Byrd said. “I went down there and met up with Greg Pritechett who was giving the orientation and so I gave it a try.”
StreetWise wasn’t only an opportunity to be an entrepreneur but for Byrd it was a getaway from drugs and alcohol.
“I liked because back then you can make an honest dollar for a living because it kept money in your pocket and it gave some clarity of mind from time to time from drugs and alcohol,” Byrd said. “StreetWise gave me the opportunity to sell paper and get money but also an outlet from that lifestyle because you try and do something positive for your life. At first it took me awhile to think I can have a life without drugs and alcohol.”
Byrd now has a job where he helps those who experience substance abuse and who experience drug withdrawal so they may head toward a drug free life and prevent any further physical, social, and psychological damage to their lives and those around them.
“My keys to success is to ground yourself into a foundation where you can build on,” Byrd said. “Have positive people in your life and have a recovery base system. I grounded myself into my religion and mainly in church. I took all the negative parts in my life and I believe StreetWise assisted me but my faith in God was what changed my life.”
Byrd doesn’t live his life ignoring his past in order to move forward because he believes his past is what keeps him moving forward. Byrd re-married in 2010 and now has five grandchildren.
“It’s funny because after I got off the phone about conducting an interview I told my wife about it and she said it’s good that I continue to tell my story,” Byrd said. “People can’t believe how I got into this position but it was just focus. God will bring your life in full circle.”
With a new life now Byrd still does what he did best, which was, sell StreetWise.
“To be honest with you I still go from time to time down to StreetWise to get my magazines to sell because you can never forget from where God brought you from,” Byrd said. “I still have trouble managing my staff here because I find it easier to talk to the patients here.”