Early on, Steve Hampton’s lifestyle was harming others and himself. While serving a 10-year prison sentence, he found a reason for hope.
As a child, Martha Freeman fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. She has continued that fight, only in a different way.
Rufus Sampson talks about the importance of mindset, taking care of the future and being willing to sacrifice.
After a hard childhood, and an episode that saw his farm taken, Phil Sorg has learned to let go and embrace the small pleasures of life.
Leonard Gage Jr. has lived through challenges some could not even imagine. In the process, he learned from past failures and found a reason for hope.
Violet Young walks briskly down North Richards Street dressed almost entirely in purple, a plastic bag in each hand. Exuberant and cheerful, even the below-freezing temperatures can’t dampen her spirits. “You should see what it looks like in summer,” she says, gesturing to a nearby corner park with fruit trees and a small shelter. “It’s beautiful.”
James King picks up trash from a strip of grass between the street and sidewalk on North 12th Street, an idle mower behind him. King, who grew up near 29th Street and Courtland Avenue, has always walked his own path, sought to define life by his own standards. “My father instilled in me … he always said, ‘James, no matter what you do, you be the best. I don’t care what it is, you be the best. If you be a drug dealer, you be the best drug dealer; If you be a doctor, you be the best doctor … If you gonna be a fool, you make damn sure you be the best damn fool,’” he says.
Ronnie hobbles down a lonely stretch of Oklahoma Avenue supporting himself with crutches. The 77-year-old wears a pair of old-fashioned Koss headphones over a baseball cap adorned with American flag pins, his scraggly brown hair peeking out from beneath. Ronnie is on his way to visit with his daughter and granddaughter. “That was my big thing — to get married and have children,” he says. At this point, they’re all he has left. “My son only lived to be 19,” Ronnie says. “He went into the army and he was stationed in Germany. He got killed, not like in combat or anything, but he was in an automobile accident when he was coming home from seeing his daughter who was born prematurely — she was in the hospital ‘cause she was only two pounds.”
Timothy Seeger greets “Mo,” a Muslim employee at Capitol Smoke Shop, 6924 W. Capitol Dr., with the customary greetings of “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greater”) and “As-salamu alaykum” (“peace be upon you”). Seeger, who’s there for two packs of Pyramid Blue King cigarettes, which he refers to as “modern-day peace pipes,” pays the bill of $11.50 in dollar bills and pennies. “When you think about it, there’s no fighting and no arguing when people are smoking cigarettes, for the most part,” says Seeger, who only began the habit three years ago, at 58. “They’re calm, relaxed; It’s like weed … but this is legal.”