Meet Mikey

Mr. Ivanovich goes by several names. Sometimes he’s Mikey. Sometimes he’s Shorty. Sometimes he’s White Shorty, to separate him from the two Black Shortys who come to Peace House Community. (It doesn’t help, because we have two White Shortys who come to PHC.) But whatever you call him, he’s always ready to talk.

Mikey’s been around for a long time. He visited the original Peace House, first stopping in about 20 years ago, but he didn’t always feel at home there. “I went to the old one years ago, but I wasn’t really steady. I remember Sister Rose and all them.” Mikey says he became a regular presence at PHC when the new building opened in 2013 and the atmosphere changed.”The old one was … this one’s more orderly. The place is more “upkept”, you know. We have younger volunteers who are more hip to drug use and holding up the bathrooms, you know. It’s more orderly. The old one was kind of off the chain.”

“Off the chain” can refer to anything that is out of control or unpredictable, like a dog that has gotten off its chain and escaped from its owner. Life on the streets is usually off the chain, with its own level of chaos. Mikey says PHC fills a huge need in the community by providing a safe space. “That means a lot to the people who, especially, live outside, which is when people are hurting. That’s what this place was originally designed for. Being able to wash your face sometimes. We’re respectful, getting in and out of the bathroom at the right time. I can come in and out, get what I need quickly, and leave if I need to. Fresh coffee’s available, things of that nature.”

After living through homelessness, covid, the George Floyd riots, and more, Mikey has mixed feelings about what lies ahead. He thinks things are headed in the right direction overall, even if he doesn’t benefit from it. “I’m hopeful for the future of the people, but not so much myself, which is satisfactory that there will be a future for the younger generation. For myself, not so much. It is what it is.”

Despite his ambivalence, Mikey keeps a positive attitude much of the time, and he has a message for PHC supporters, especially those who don’t make it to the building to see what their support accomplishes. “They’re the ones I want to say thank-you to, for their time and comfortability. I like to thank the source, ‘cause they’re rarely seen for who they are. I’d like to go to the source and tell them thank-you sometime. If I never meet you, thank-you. I’m grateful. That’s about it.”