“If you don’t have family you don’t have anything”

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.”

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“You adapt to your environment”

Reunitie Harmon walks down a quiet 24th Street in Park West. Harmon’s casual appearance is consistent with the quiet confidence she projects.

“I tell people: unless you hear my story, you’ll never know my struggles — that’s my thing. ‘Cause I never wear it on my face — I always wear a smile — so unless you see my struggles or you hear about it, you’ll never know about what I’m going through.”

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“Our family, we always help each other out”

Maikou Xiong (shee-ong) leans against her small, black sedan in the parking lot of the Washington Park Senior Center smoking a long-burning cigarette. Xiong, whose family is Hmong, has lived in Milwaukee all of her life, and she doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“There have been rough times,” she says, adding that her family has stuck together, and is always there for each other. “I’m really grateful to have a family like that — really, really grateful. To have a family that always appreciates little things.”

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