Our vendors: Randy Humphreys (Street Roots, Portland, USA)

By Jessica Hamilton, Street Roots

Street Roots vendor Randy Humphreys does not mince words.

“The cycle ends with me,” says Randy, whose family has a history of abuse.

Sent by his family to live at a children’s home in Nampa, Idaho, when he was 8, Randy endured abuse at the hands of other children. As a result of being severely disabled as a child, Randy did not learn to read or write until he was 15. Adults had told him he never would.

“I had to learn to do things people said couldn’t be done,” Randy explains. “Learn to read, learn to be smart – I did it without help.”

Randy regularly writes poems for Street Roots, often drawing on his long-time girlfriend, Angie, for inspiration.

“She’s my reason for getting up in the morning and why I go out and make money every day. She’s my everything,” Randy says. He acknowledges that they have their ups and downs and that he can say hurtful things.

Yet his love for her shines through when he describes first meeting Angie: “She’s like my sunshine, my angel. I went straight to her and asked her out. It was like God was shining a light pointing me right to her in that park seven and a half years ago. Her face just glows every day.”

Randy shares the most basic of all human needs: to feel loved and accepted.

He first met his father in a Boise prison, at his father’s request, when he was 15. His father was dying of AIDS and told Randy that he loved him. But his father was also part of a larger family legacy of abuse that dated back to his great-grandfather. And Randy is adamant that he will not continue that cycle.

“My life has featured a lot of abandonment. I wish my family would love me for who I am,” Randy says, “but they couldn’t handle me. I had challenges; disabilities. All I’ve ever wanted was to be loved.”

Randy has been a steady Street Roots vendor for the past few months. His favorite place to sell papers is at the Safeway at Southeast 28th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard.

“I love seeing my customers smile. I love seeing people smile every day,” Randy grins. “Street Roots helps me in so many ways – with stress, my heart, my love. I look forward to going to work every day. No matter what has happened, I keep my head held high. I put one foot in front of the other. I smile. And I don’t let the bad things get in the way of being successful. I try to put the past behind me.”