WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDVM) — D.C. resident and activist Sharon Wise is no stranger to the streets.
After nearly eight years of living in a homeless camp, she still returns regularly, to deliver food and supplies to those who she says aren’t much different than herself.
“I’ve got a connection to that. These are my sisters, these are my brothers that are out here. I have to be a part of them,” said Wise.
Growing up in a dysfunctional household, Wise faced many challenges in her young life.
“By the time 15 years old, I was doing drugs, I was on the streets, and I was pregnant with my first child,” she said.
Wise had to give up her two children when she realized she couldn’t care for them. She says the defining moment she knew she had to change was when her son came to visit her in jail. The only connection they could have was through a plexiglass window.
“Me seeing him and knowing that could be my life…That my son would be trying to touch me through plexiglass…I couldn’t do it,” she said.
She started an organization called “Round Midnight,” where Wise and her group of volunteers visits the homeless camps and underpasses to deliver supplies. The initiative has been going for 18 years and is independently funded.
Clarence Miles, Wise’s long-time friend, and volunteer says that she helped him found his youth group in the D.C. area — and that helping people is just what she does.
“She doesn’t have to feed the homeless, she doesn’t have to work with other organizations, she doesn’t have to give herself. We’re gonna keep on applauding her, we’re gonna keep on lifting her up,” said Miles.
Wise says her wish is that the people she helps view her as a symbol of hope — and to inspire them to change their lives, as she changed hers.
“People might say, ‘How did you get out of it?’ One foot at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time. There is hope. Because I lived under a bridge and shot dope in my neck for many years. Many years. That’s not my narrative now.”