Selling 'The Contributor' has helped Robert open up

Jan 03 2017
Posted by: Staff
Selling 'The Contributor' has helped Robert open up

By: Laura McLaughlin

How did you end up in Nashville?
I was born in Nashville. I was taken away from my home at age 5 and put into an adoption home in Donelson. I grew up around Nashville in a couple different foster homes, then I was adopted at age 10.

What was the adoption process like?
It was a blast. I was the last child in the adoption home and when my soon-to-be adopted parents came, they took me out to a theme park and a bunch of different places and we had so much fun together. I liked being adopted much better than being in a foster home. I had a real close bond with my adopted parents. They couldn’t have kids on their own so they adopted me. We moved to Arizona, and I was so excited to be an only child for the rest of my life since I had spent so much time without any parents and just a bunch of other kids in the home.

Are you still in contact with them?
Not anymore. About a year after I was adopted, my adopted parents started having kids like crazy. They had five other kids who they liked more than me, so I was kind of pushed out of the nest. They’ve got their family and my dad has a full-time job, so they’re pretty busy. I’ve talked to them about a half a dozen times in the past 20 years. 

Why did you leave Arizona?
I came back to Nashville in 1996 to start my life over. I had been involved in a religious organization that was cultic. If you weren’t a part of it, they said you were going to hell and my adopted family was a part of it as well. I just needed to get away from all of it. 

Being homeless here was better than being a part of that exclusivity and negativity. I lived with my biological sister for a couple years when I first moved here. She had been in the same foster home with me so we have an inseparable tie. 

How would you describe yourself?
I’m very analytical, but also very open. I believe in giving everybody a chance no matter their religious preference or no matter the color of their skin. The way I look at it is I could be in their same dilemma or situation; I’m not better than the next man. I’m very introspective and try to make sure that my actions don’t upset anybody. I try to be a happy guy. 

What made you decide to start selling The Contributor?
I had a job in recycling but then my ankle started giving away, so I couldn’t keep up with it. I draw SSI, but even with that, the expenses were always kinda tight and I couldn’t keep up with rent. So, my friend David C. (“Clinecasso”) told me about The Contributor and I’ve been selling on and off since then. Right now I sell on East Thompson Lane near Briley Parkway. I’ve been in my latest apartment for seven months now, which I saved up for and got all on my own. 

What are your plans for the future?
I’m currently starting to do vocational rehabilitation and I’m going to begin a full-time job through that, but I’m not yet ready to quit The Contributor. I want to make money at my new job so that I can turn around and help the homeless myself.  I want to spread smiles because I know smiles are contagious. I want to pass on a kind word when I get a chance to talk to them and hope they have a really good day.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to readers of The Contributor?
I have met some very great people, and it has been a blessing to be able to share my life with them and be able to communicate with them. I feel like, as a Contributor vendor, another benefit I’ve had besides getting money is that it’s allowed me to be more open. I believe that homelessness had kind of sheltered me and closed me up for a while; now I get to be a little bit more open and transparent with myself and others.


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