Meet vendor Santos Aguirre, soaking up life’s rewards one day at a time.
Santos Aguirre is relishing life these days: an apartment since January, time with his children, and a shot at a career in recording technology. For many, that sounds like a mundane existence, but Aguirre, a Contributor vendor since 2009, doesn’t take his routine for granted — not so long ago, he was homeless and lost custody of his kids. “It’s been a real transition to go from sleeping outside in a tent to rehab in Kentucky to an apartment,” he acknowledges. “But I feel like I’m living a great life.”
A Chicago native, Aguirre spent years driving the roads of America through his job moving military personnel from base to base and state to state, before being downsized and out of work. He moved to Nashville to join his sister, who already lived here, and after seeing a Contributor vendor selling papers, decided to go through vendor training himself.
But life wasn’t smooth.
He had an apartment with his girlfriend, but when she became pregnant, the apartment management informed the couple children weren’t allowed in the complex. By the time his second child arrived, he was living in a hotel and paying up to $1,400 a month in rent, diapers and formula alone. Both he and the childrens' mother were drinking heavily, and when the Department of Children’s Services learned about the family’s situation, that was it: Soon, a representative knocked on the hotel room door and took the kids into foster care. Aguirre says it was the wake-up call he needed to get treatment for his substance abuse issues and clean his act up.
“Since I got out of rehab, it’s been nothing but success,” he says.
As it happened, Aguirre’s father had made a trip to Nashville about five years ago to purchase recording studio equipment from a Nashville cat unloading the tools of his trade. Why? Aguirre isn’t sure — his dad died a month after he made the purchase. “It sounds crazy,” Aguirre acknowledges. Since then, the equipment has been collecting dust in an attic in Chicago. So, Aguirre took the reverse trip his father did: He drove to Chicago, loaded up a truck, and brought the studio equipment back to its home in Nashville, where it’s currently stashed in his apartment while he plans his next move.
His goal is to create a non-profit recording studio for aspiring singers. Aguirre is working on raising money — step one for any non-profit — and looking for a location in which to set up. He’s also looking for partners, skilled technicians to help him out, financial benefactors, and a part time job for himself.
He’s excited about his idea, but most of all, he’s looking forward to regaining custody of his children — ages five and two — an imminent move. “The Contributor has given me strength and support in getting my family back,” he says. “A lot of people don’t know what they have in their life. I try to stay humble and enjoy the rewards of my life now.”