Just the mention of Alexandria Nunez’ son, Daryl Jr., brings an overwhelming smile to her face. Alex, for short, enthusiastically pulls out her phone to show off pictures of Daryl Jr., spanning from infancy up to his most recent 4th birthday last August. That particular birthday reminds Alex of an especially meaningful time, as she was able to use some of her earnings from StreetWise to throw her son a birthday party at Chuckie Cheese, complete with presents and a cake.
“I feel like as a mother it is my responsibility to do things. Even though the foster parents take care of him primarily, as his mother it is my duty, my job and my responsibility to take care of my own birth son as his birth mother,” said Alex. “That’s how much he means to me. I brought him into this world and that is my gift from God.”
Alex fights tirelessly to gain full custody of her son, who lives with foster parents and only visits Alex on occasion. Facing homelessness and abuse in her past, Alex now looks to her future with ambition and positivity. Since starting at StreetWise nearly a year ago, she has gained tranquility and independence in her life, including securing stable housing.
“I’ve been from hell and back. Being homeless and sleeping in trains, friends’ houses, streets, shelters, and being pregnant while I was homeless, and now I have my own apartment, and I have a little money in my pocket,” said Alex. “If it wasn’t for StreetWise, I really don’t know where I would be. The horizon’s just expanding bigger and bigger.”
Alex was born with Microphthalmia, which means her eyes are smaller than average, as well as a stigmatism, making her legally blind. In the future she hopes to work with StreetWise to expand and make the magazine accessible for the visually impaired to read in Braille. Of course, this obstacle doesn’t keep Alex from getting out nearly everyday downtown near Monroe and State to sell her papers.
“Working for StreetWise keeps my mind busy, my body going, and, to me, it’s an anti-depressant,” said Alex. “It feels good to just stand out there hours and hours and hours at that one spot. You’re making money and you can make people feel good. That’s an entire present for me.”
She also feels it is important to share her message with others struggling, not only with homelessness or poverty, but also to build a resume and develop new skills.
“It’s to encourage panhandlers to get off the streets and make money instead of having a cup and begging for change. If I’m going to sell papers I need to be in a mental and emotional right state of mind,” said Alex. “For me it’s about building my resume.”
For Alex, the future is filled with hope. Beyond her work at StreetWise, Daryl Jr. remains the most important motivation in Alex’s life. Her fight to gain custody of her son will always be her top priority. Right now, the independence and continued expansion of her resume remain her biggest allies in this battle.
“He means the world to me,” said Alex. “I’m still fighting.”
Written by Ann Wanserski,
StreetWise Editorial Intern