Vendor Missy C. sells papers while she studies for high school diploma

Are you from Nashville?

Yes. I lived in Norfolk, Va. for 15 years while I was married.

How much has Nashville changed?
I’d say a lot. For 15 years I wasn’t even here. I guess with all the construction it’s changed, and it seems like homelessness has risen. It was hard for me to get a place to live. The waitlist is long, I had to wait like three years.

What did you do while you were waiting?
I stayed with friends and families, and then I lived at the homeless shelter, the mission.

Was that your first time experiencing homelessness?

What caused you to experience homelessness?
A divorce. I was in a domestic violence situation.

What would you tell someone who’s in a domestic violence situation?
Basically call the police right away because the circumstances will not get better.

So you came to Nashville to escape that?

Did you have help getting out of that situation?
My mother sent me money to come down here. I didn’t have family support with my children. Like when I came my mother wouldn’t let me live with her. I have a mother and sister but they didn’t let me live with them. So I had to go to the mission. I didn’t really have too much of a choice because I had kids.

Were you able to get into housing?
I am now. It’s awesome.

What do you think people don’t understand about homelessness or living in a mission or bouncing around with friends?
How hard it is. Actually for getting back on your feet, for the job market, for low income trying to get a place. It took me like three years just to get a low income apartment. They don’t have emergency housing or shelters other than the mission.

And when did you start selling The Contributor?
I think about a year ago.

Where are you selling?
I sell at Starbucks. I was at Bricktops, but I’m actually in the process of looking for a spot in Hillsboro. I’m kind of bouncing around. Starbucks is my main spot, but nobody seems to be buying the paper. If people aren’t buying, I don’t just sit there. So I keep moving.

What do you think we could do to get more people buying the paper?
I think they need more understanding of people’s situations, and how hard it is to find a job when you have no education. I have no education. I need a high school diploma. I’m working on getting a high school diploma, but it’s not easy. Trying to get a place for the kids, it’s not easy.

Do you feel like you were turned down from a lot of jobs because of that?
I have two kids with disabilities so I’ve had to be pulled out of work to take care of them and their behavior issues. It’s hard to keep a job because I have kids with disabilities.

Would you say that The Contributor gives you some freedom in that regard in being able to make your own hours?
Yeah, because it gives you your own hours and helps out. If I don’t have a babysitter then I don’t have to go to work.

What do you do when you’re not selling papers?
I’m in school, trying to get my high school diploma.

When did you stop going to high school?
When I got pregnant with my first child…I got pregnant at around 16. So I kind of stopped school. So now I’m going back to try to get my high school diploma. After I get it, I’m going to go to Nashville State to study accounting.

Are you good with numbers or math?
I’m working on it.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your customers or readers of The Contributor?
I’m trying to get on my feet, and I want to thank everyone for buying The Contributor from me and helping me and you know it is not easy. I am in school and I am trying. And once I do get my high school diploma, I am going to college, but I have to get that first. I am trying but with my kids having disabilities it’s not as easy as just running out and grabbing a job because when my kids have disabilities I’m having to be called off all the time then no one wants to keep you. A lot of people kind of look at me funny and strange and why I’m out there selling and why I’m not having a regular job. So I just want the readers to understand why.

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Courtesy: Linda Bailey

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