Vendor Profile: Edna Williams
Edna was born in Richmond, Va., and lived there until the age of 12. She came to D.C. at the age of 13, and she attended Francis Junior High and Cardoza High School. She married in 1961, had a child every year for the next eight years, and is the proud mother of eight children. She was also a wife for 11 years, held several jobs, and has studied computer networking and programming classes.
You are no longer homeless, but you once were. Could you describe the circumstances that led to your homelessness?
One of the reasons was stubbornness. When I say stubborn, it’s because of the fact that I could have prevented being homeless. My stubbornness forced me into not paying extra money to cover bills and expenses. I finally decided that I would got to a shelter to improve my living arrangements as opposed to sleeping on the street. Being in the shelter helped me buy time to find housing and get back on my feet.
When I went to the shelter, my intentions were to be there for only eight months (at the most). But once I got there, it turned out that it was two and a half years to get back on my feet to get out of the shelter. That was after very heavy determination on my part.
What was the hardest thing for you about being homeless?
For one, many people don’t care enough to try and help you to get on your feet. Second, my health was not a big issue to them. I did not have the medical attention that I needed, and I already had health problems before going into a shelter. I had to go to a lot of people to get anything taken care of in terms of improving my health. I found this very stressful, and the situation got worse as I lived in the shelter. It was hard to find access to insurance and adequate health care while living in the shelters. And so many people are sick there, but oftentimes, nobody knows. Also, people’s attitudes were outrageous; it seemed like if you told people something that was bothering you, they didn’t care.
What advice would you give to someone who is currently homeless?
My advice to women and men who are homeless is: Don’t lose your sense of determination, try to understand why you are there in the first place, and know that you want to get out of the shelter and that you want a place of your own. You have to do it on your own; you have to find a job on your own, you have t to find an apartment on your own, because the staff in the shelter will now help you to find the things that you need. It is really up to you.
Favorite Book? I have a lot of favorite books. I am a heavy reader. I like romance novels, mystery and fiction. My favorite authors are Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele. I used to read a lot of Stephen King, but there’s too much murder in his books now.
Favorite Movie? I liked Ray a lot, but I need to see it again.
Favorite Food? Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, and I can eat the devil out of chitlings and pig feet.