Vendor of the Month
Growing up, Street Sense vendor Philip Howard loved to joke around with his guardian mother while she baked warm, fluffy biscuits. He would pretend someone was at the front door, and before she realized the stoop outside was empty, Philip would grab a biscuit and run out the back door.
This guardian family raised Philip until the start of his teenage years. Then at age 14, Philip went to live with his real mother, whom he says he never understood very well. Philip went on the run for two months when he was 17. He was unable to return to the guardian mother’s house because she had passed away. Philip says, “I just wanted to go back and see everybody.” In addition to bouncing between the guardian’s home and his mothers, Philip spent time in two children’s centers in Laurel, Maryland: Maple Glen and Cedar North.
Growing up around Washington, D.C., Philip has seen many changes in the district. But the most notable was the election of President Barack Obama, “People said it would never happen, but I say you never know.” Although Philip doesn’t always understand the partisanship of Washington politics, he enjoys seeing the different flows of people in the various parts of the city and the history of the area.
Philip’s favorite place in the city is the movies, where he likes to go when he has some money. He even has a membership to Regal Cinemas.
Over the years, Philip has worked many odd jobs around the city including construction, maintenance, food service, groundskeeping, window washing, painting and plastering. At one point, Philip even worked on the water supply for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
In 1981, Philip began to create his own family by marrying a woman from South America. Three years later, she traveled to her home country and never returned.
In 1998, Philip’s son, by a different woman, was born at Howard University Hospital, a moment Philip calls his proudest. Tragically, at age 6, Philip’s son contracted meningitis from a classmate and died.
Three years before his son’s death, Philip’s daughter was born. Although his daughter lives with her mother’s family, today Philip is able to spend time with her frequently.
While his past has undeniably colored his present, these days Philip feels it is important to “forget about the past and look to the future,” which for Philip includes spending more time with his daughter. As he looks forward to all that lies ahead, Philip would like to leave readers with the following message: “Be safe. Love life, because it’s a precious jewel.”