“Environment could shape and mold you to something different,” said Street Sense vendor Terron Solomon, in his gruff voice.
At eight, Solomon looked at the lives of his neighbors in Northeast, D.C. and weighed his own options. There was the elderly lady who had worked at a government job for nearly 20 years. She lived modestly. Then there were other guys, just about five years older than him, who sold illegal drugs. They had lot of money to spend on expensive luxuries.
The image was imprinted in his young mind. At around the age of 11, Solomon started selling drugs. Solomon said the work paid well, but with it came the habits of taking drugs and drinking alcohol.
Nearly 40 years later, watching his friends as they got high, he couldn’t help but hate what he had become.
“This ain’t really me,” he said. He then asked God to take it piece by piece: the drugs, the alcohol, everything. Leaving the well-paying but drug-filled life, he left his neighborhood. He rode the bus from Northeast, D.C. to Chinatown. He started off homeless and on the streets. Two-day stretches of no food tempted him to go back to the life he once lived.
“That’s where I met my man,” Solomon said.
While sitting on a bench, Solomon started a conversation with a fellow homeless man.
“Have you ever heard of Street Sense?,” the man asked Solomon. Giving him the contact information of Street Sense, the homeless man also gave him $10 to survive a few days.
“Man, thank God he got me out of that,” Solomon said. “I’m at Street Sense because of this dude.”
Solomon said he has been clean from drug abuse and hasn’t sold drugs for a year now.
“I already had street sense, but now I have the paper.”
He hopes to get a stable job and to get a place of his own. He said that he is still tempted to go back, but he won’t allow that to happen.
“You have no luck with me and drugs,” he said. “I’m so done.”