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Lisa Hodges: A second chance with the help of StreetWise
When Lisa Hodges began working at StreetWise four years ago, she did not expect it to become such an important part of her life. “I felt that it was better than panhandling because at least I had something to offer the people for what I asked them,” she said of her feelings when she first came to StreetWise. Prior to selling magazines, Hodges had been panhandling when she met a StreetWise vendor. He told her how well he was doing with sales, and she went in for an interview as soon as she could.
Today, Hodges sells magazines in many locations. “My first location is 87th and Kedzie. Around that area it’s kind of nice over there. And that’s where I met the guy that told me about StreetWise,” she said. She also works outside the Walgreen’s on 117th and Western, as well as downtown. “If they allow you to stand there and give you permission that you can use their site, Walgreen’s can be a number one site, really.”
With four children, Hodges has had to work hard to earn enough money to get by. Constance, 29, Lataren, 27, Joann, 20, and Alexis, 5, motivate Hodges to do everything she can to reach her dreams of owning her own boutique one day. “It’s just a little variety boutique, like the hats, caps or little socks or you know some candy, something like that,” she said.
For now, though, Hodges’ top priority is simply to move forward in a positive direction. As a former drug addict, she has made it her mission to stay clean not only for her own health, but also for her daughters’ sake. “I found out I was pregnant and I told myself I didn’t want to bring no baby into the world addicted to drugs, so I have a drug-free baby and I’ve been clean since.” Hodges does not take her responsibility lightly; she knows that it was fate for her to have another child. “God sent her to me because that’s the only way He knew how to stop me and she was the reason why I stopped today is because of her.”
Hodges knows she is lucky for such a good second chance. “It’s easy to get caught up and I think I went through my past life, my addiction life, so I could be a better parent for my grandkids and my youngest daughter.” Hodges wants to mentor her children by using the lessons she learned. “I know what not to do, what to do, and I know where it’s going to get you.”
Though Hodges conquered her drug habit, she still faces struggles each day as a sufferer of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). A history of smoking left Hodges with one functioning lung. She now needs an oxygen tank to assist with her breathing. This condition has also affected her in a professional arena. While working in a Caribbean restaurant, her breathing became a serious problem. “I couldn’t be in the kitchen area around the restaurant because the seasonings they use are spicy and hot and it made me sick; I couldn’t breathe. And so I had to stop and get on disability,” she said. Hodges’ disability checks, however, do not provide her with enough to pay rent and take care of her 5-year-old daughter, so she had to return to StreetWise after a year off. Hodges knows she would not be as successful as she is today without her customers. “I know nowadays the economy is rough and I still have people that help me,” she said. “Some people still have that spirit in them.”
Written by Kim Cummins & Brittany Langmeyer
StreetWise Editorial Intern & StreetWise Staff