Originally from Evanston, Illinois, I have been a One Step Away vendor for nearly seven years now. The experience of being a vendor adds value to my life in many, many ways. The main experience that really stands out for me is the opportunity each day to become a better and more resourceful person with each encounter. I have learned over the years that each day is truly unique, with its own changes and challenges, and I make a conscious effort to pay attention to that fact. This change in my focus helps me live and work more effectively and truly appreciate my job. I have learned that there is a real value in my natural inclination to be a “People Person.” Skills, such as public speaking and salesmanship also come to mind, but mainly, lessons, such as maintaining my resourcefulness and being of service to others, make my job a learning experience in itself.
My advice to someone experiencing homelessness is to always be open to the fact that, there always is another way…, and to actively seek out people and programs that are there to help you change your life’s present situation. I would advise anyone who wants to be of service to those living on the streets to take steps to learn more about homelessness from those who are already working to help… I carry a list of these organizations with me each day.
I was asked before: Do you think those without homes can ever have the same chances as those with homes? How? My answer is always going to be a resounding YES! We humans are capable of solving this problem and millions more. As a society we simply have to turn and maintain our collective focus on positive actions and outcomes for those who are affected. Increasing our awareness and actively supporting the right actions of the many groups, foundations and professional organizations attacking homelessness each day, can help us end this painful condition, forever.
For those who stereotype people who are homeless, I give some old-fashioned advice: never judge a book by its cover. I typically offer people a personal insight from my own experiences, and then ask them to imagine how different their own lives might be if all that they valued now was not there for them anymore.
When I was not a vendor, life was very different, to say the least. Invisibility will always remain the most painful aspect of homelessness, I think.
My many supporters are my friends as well. They are some of the finest people on Earth and they see me as the same, I believe.