Our vendors: Vickie (The Contributor, East Nashville, Tennessee, USA)

By Amelia Ferrell Knisley, The Contributor

If you were going to tell your customers one thing, what would it be?
That I’m a nice and hard working person, and I’m human. I’m not out here doing drugs or alcohol. I’m out here supporting my family.

What do you like about selling The Contributor?
Meeting people, setting my own schedule and I don’t have to worry about getting fired. With how sick I’ve been, with a regular job I would have been fired. The Contributor gave me hope.

Photo: Amelia Ferrell Knisley

Have you made any regular customers?
Yes, and they look for me and ask where I’ve been. They talk to me and ask me about my situation. They invited me to church and I go to church with them. One time a customer didn’t have one dollar so I gave him the paper, and he came back the next day and gave me $20. They’re warming up to me.

What was your childhood like?
Lonely. I always stayed by myself. My family was always arguing, so I stayed upstairs in my room and listened to my radio. My dad passed away from a heart attack when I was young and I got married when I was 18.

What happened after that?
[My husband] was fine at first, then he got involved in this religion – a cult. They teach that the woman has to listen to the man. He became very abusive toward me and the kids. A man from a church came and got me and took me up to my mom’s, but then the state came and got us and put us in a safehouse because [my husband] told my daughter that he was going to kill us. I stayed there for three months until I got a place, but it got kind of hard because of trying to work and get babysitters, so I went back to my mom’s. My brother told me I couldn’t stay there. I went to the mission and asked the state to take my kids because I didn’t want to put them through that. [The state] kept them for two years.

What motivates you?
My kids – the will to take care of them and to prove to everyone I can still do it.

What do you like about being a mom?
Your kids still love you and accept you no matter what.

You recently learned you have cancer for the second time.
The first time I had cancer was in my cervix, but they didn’t take my ovaries, so now I have cancer in my ovaries. They also found that I have spots on my brain.

What have you learned after everything you’ve been through?
Hope, courage and don’t give up. There’s days I do cry when I see friends with big houses and fancy stuff, and I wonder when I’m going to get mine. But I don’t want fancy stuff, I just want a home.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
In my trailer, healthy and just being happy. I don’t care about money as long as I’m happy. Hopefully one day I’ll be married again to the right person.

What do you like to do for fun?
Listen to country music. George Strait is my childhood favourite and I grew up listening to him. He’s real. He don’t have to put on the fire, lights and dancing; he just sings and you’ll still be satisfied. I also like to take care of stray cats. I figure they’re in the same boat as me: They need love.