During the whole interview Elizabeth Bryant counts her 80 Street Sense papers to make sure everything is ready for a good weekend. She is soon on her way to her regular spot at Dupont Circle. One can tell that this woman has a unique working spirit by looking at her steady body language and her big smile. She looks determined, and has no problem with giving away answers while she’s counting papers. Her motto is the following: “You have to take chances because you don’t know your outcome.”
Bryant is a woman of many passions. She likes swimming, music, dancing, bowling and skating. Right now she’s not exercising as much as she used to, but she will find a way to get into exercise again, says she. “In the future I will have my own swimming pool and a back yard.” Bryant is also a true foodie. “I don’t like cooking as much as I like eating,” she says smilingly. Her smile has the ability to light an anonymous meeting room.
Bryant was born in Gooseland, Virginia, but considers herself a Washingtonian, since she’s lived in Washington most of her life. Her mother was an alcoholic, whom she met for the first time at the age of nine. “I hated her because she didn’t take care of me,” she says. The lack of caring parents affected her life in an unfortunate way. Bryant has participated in several recovery programs since she was 17.
Despite a rough childhood, she continued to fight and has stayed sober for almost seven years. Bryant says she will continue her positive path toward a brighter future. “I’m very determined. Most people would have just given up, but I don’t want to give up. Today you see prejudice, power among people with money. I see a lot of hatred,” she says, and adds that she does not want to be like that. Bryant gives away a serious look when her eyes look up from the papers. She believes that God makes her strong, in addition to her children and the people from her 12-step program in church.
Bryant has one child who is 30 years old. Tragically, her second daughter was buried four months ago. She died of breast cancer and she had five children. “I love my grandchildren. One of my grandchildren, Arthur, told me he loved me. I melted when he told me, and I said I loved him, too.”
Bryant lives in her own apartment in Southeast D.C. She’s a Christian who goes to Paramount Baptist Church, about three blocks away. She studies at Academy of Hope, a school that provides adult basic education.
She was introduced to Street Sense about four months ago by a man called Herbert.
She finds a sense of purpose at Street Sense, because she’s able to be her own boss. “Here, I got no boss hanging over me.” Bryant says that she will continue at Street Sense and finish her education in a clear statement.
“And people could’ve lost their previous jobs, but here you can’t judge nobody. Me trying to do something for myself is good,” she says.