The first thing that Chon mentioned during our interview was that he was born and raised in Southeast DC, establishing from the very beginning of our conversation a sense of fondness and tenderness towards his childhood and youthful reminiscences when living in his neighborhood.
Raised with two workaholic parents and 10 siblings, Chon recalls his past memories as ones full of joy and financial stability. Although he had a sense of economic steadiness in his life, Chon was conscious that working would give him independence and guarantee a prosperous and successful future. Thus, he began working and obtaining jobs starting in the early stages of his life. At fourteen years old, Chon was already a youth intern in the DC government and later at the National Zoo.
His relationship with his mother was permanently honest and full of candid emotions. She instilled in Chon a work ethic that he is now tremendously grateful for. Reading was always a constant and constructive habit of Chon’s mom, and she passed this custom to her son, who was eventually able to read and write in an unblemished manner prior to starting school.
“One day you are going to be a preacher; I can see it, son,” his mother said to Chon every time she saw him read as a way to achieve great academic learning. He now evokes his mother’s wise words when facing conflicts or struggling with obstacles, and argues that they seem so influential; that enables him to keep going during harsh periods.
Everything in Chon’s life seemed to be going well until he lost his job and his parents simultaneously faced health problems.
“Since I was the only child who was not working during that time, I was hands-on with my parents, taking care of them 24/7 and constantly worrying about medical appointments as well as their overall health care. During that time, I did not put great attention to my well being and as a result, I ended up homeless in the city’s shelters for five years,” Chon said.
A friend of Chon’s introduced him to Street Sense and argued that the street newspaper was perhaps a way to avoid staying in the shelter for more years without creating any resources of his own.
Currently, Chon sees himself in the future as an entrepreneur working in the nation’s capital and setting up his own business organizations throughout the town. Just like his grandmother used to call him, he perceives himself as an efficacious “boss man” functioning with positivity, energy, integrity and good vibes.
“I consider myself an individual who enjoys living with passion and just living life to the fullest. I love to come to Street Sense every day; I love to say hello to people and shake hands with them. I love to be involved in various groups in the organization, and I see Street Sense as my current job,” he said.
Chon Gotti’s story is a great example of how a good economic situation in one’s life does not always provide a successful future; there are various factors that one has to take into consideration when pursuing life and career. Street Sense serves as a pathway for accomplishing goals that were once neglected due to severe and austere events.
“When I’m selling the newspaper and people don’t take me seriously or are not willing to pay the two dollars it costs, I tell them “take the paper for free today, next time you see me just try to help me out.’”