Deidra Youngerman, or “Peaches,” has an easygoing manner and laugh that has helped her make friends around the world.
“I was born in Greenwood, South Carolina,” said Deidra. “Basically, I’m a military brat. Grew up everywhere. I’ve either lived or stayed in all the states but five.”
As a teenager, she wrote her name on the Berlin Wall while it was still standing.
“There were certain rules where you could sign it and there were areas where you couldn’t do anything,” she said. “When we went back the following year, we saw it when it was coming down. We went and grabbed the piece that had our name on it.”
She spent two of her favorite high school years in Japan and still keeps in contact with a friend there through Facebook.
When she returned to the United States, she eventually married and had three sons. But after several accidents, she became disabled and was unable to care for her children, who went to live with an uncle. She ended up homeless in Portland with an abusive husband who cut her off from her family.
She said that’s when she hit rock bottom and was ready to give up.
“I’m not a church-going person that goes every Sunday or Wednesday, but I still read my Bible,” Deidra said. “And when I was in a bad situation, I turned to Him and said, ‘I need You.’ When there was nobody for me to talk to, that was actually what brought me some promise. I would sit there and put my thoughts on paper and then I would talk to God about it. And then that’s when all of a sudden all my answers started coming to me. That’s when I started writing poems.”
Deidra divorced her husband and took more steps toward independence.
In Portland, some of her oldest friends are Street Roots vendors, and they encouraged her to sell Street Roots. Now, Deidra sells Street Roots.
“It’s more like a job," she said. "You’ve got to show up. You’ve got to be there.”
Deidra is also in a healthier relationship with a boyfriend who supports her work with Street Roots. Recently, he raised an eyebrow when Deidra proudly paid for groceries with cash. Her boyfriend thinks Street Roots “is cool.”
She is back in contact with her family.
“I’m always talking with my mom," she said. "My parents were always there for me. If I needed something, they were there. They didn’t care if it was the last thing that they had, they were there.”
Now that her parents are in a financial bind, Deidra is paying back her debt to them with some of her Street Roots earnings.
Things are not perfect. She worries about what she and her boyfriend will do when their apartment lease is up in January. Her eldest son is having his own crisis.
But Deidra is pressing on and paraphrased one of her poems that was recently published in Street Roots.
“What is the meaning of true love? It’s the kindness, the joy when you walk hand in hand, laughing and crying together, weeping and sharing thoughts. What it all comes down to: we are praying together.”