Wendell Williams spreads his arms in a welcoming manner.
Rodney Choice

I’d like to thank so many people for their various acts of kindness and support towards me on my journey toward self-sufficiency. They helped me through crucial times. While their efforts may have appeared not to have born fruit in the moment — together they all kept me alive to get where I am today.

That includes a lot more strangers than you’d expect, people who seemed to show up out of nowhere to assist me in moments of desperation, such as a chance meeting with William Teel that saved my life in the harsh winter of ‘05.

It also includes lifelong friends who never sold their stock in me and many rehab counselors and therapists who tried to help. I’m ever grateful for my daughter Jessica’s blind faith in me in spite of me being less than a great father for a good part of her life. She is always patient with me as we work through our issues.

In Ohio and Michigan, many families were there for me, including the Mulligans, the Loftons, the Dailys, the Wares and the Cromwells. Some of those families also connected me with wonderful students at Xavier University and the “poppers” at Sycamore High School. This time in my life is also when I met my super caseworker, Cheryl W and the staff of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. That’s where the Streetvibes program, led by Donald Whitehead and Jimmy Heath, got me introduced to the life-changing power of the street newspaper movement.

Back in the D.C. area, I am forever grateful to places like SOME, Miriam’s Kitchen, the Lamb Center, the Alexandria Community Service Board, my many friends at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Old Town and the people of the The Word of Life Church International Church in Springfield, VA — including Pastor Josiah and my guardian angel, Julius. Their homeless breakfast program picks people up in school buses from, 2nd and D Street shelter and Franklin Park.

Street Sense co-founder Ted Henson never gave up on me either. He supported me and my follow early Street Sense vendors just as we supported one another at the beginning.

Just as my community at the Del Ray Farmers’ Market supports me now. I value their prayers, mentorship and constant encouragement and I’m honored to call them friends. The many wonderful “Friends of Bill” I have met along this amazing journey have also enriched my life.

And I don’t want to forget the lady I met on a lonely Metro ride home that day years ago who planted the seeds in my head that led me to a fulfilling career where I am able to use my successes and failures to help others who are suffering as I was. That woman was Jerri Davis.

I try each day to live in a way that honors the long-term commitment that all of you have made to me. If it takes a village to raise a child, my story proves it also takes a village to reclaim a life. Thank you all.