Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, Steve grew up in the neighborhood of Glenwood. Steve was raised in a single parent home by his mother, who also raised his six other siblings. "It was okay, mama couldn't afford no vacation, she did the best she could with seven kids," Steve said when asked about his childhood.
Shortly after Steve graduated from Jackson Junior High in the 8th grade, he decided it was time to go to work. At 15 years old, Steve was working construction, making $10 an hour.
"I was making more money than my classmates, so it didn't make sense to continue going to school. When I reminisce about those times, the money wasn't worth it." At 61 years old, Steve struggles to read and write.
After a decade of working in the construction business, Steve decided to start a company of his own, S & K siding business. The S stood for Steve, and K stood for Kay, Steve's ex-wife. While though Steve's siding business was booming, but the money could never be accounted for. "My wife would take everything and spend it; she put me in so much debt." So much debt that he's still repaying after the business shut down its services over 25 years ago.
Steve filed for divorce from kay and soon found himself traveling between Florida and California, in search of a new beginning. For many years, Steve was away from the city he knew best, Greensboro. When Steve turned 41, he decided to return home.
Once he came back to Greensboro, he began working at All Goods Construction, where he worked for 15 years before being laid off in 2016. After two years of unemployment, Steve continues to struggle to find a job decent, possible due to his age, illiteracy, and health. Collecting cans have become his current occupation and provided a way to survive. "It's not an easy job, but I'll take whatever I can get," Steve said.
At the current price rate of 30 cents per pound, Steve needs to collect exactly 500 cans to make $10. "He's at the age where his body can't handle the intensity of the work any longer, or his body will shut down on him" Steve's physician reported to him. Steve's been working all his life he's not sure if slowing down is something that he should do, especially when it's a matter of survival.