What does it take to go from being homeless to one of the top management positions at a Springfield Wal-Mart store in less than five years? Daronn Commer knows.“I always had the drive inside. I always knew I was going to make it,” the 22-year-old Commer said. “… Sometimes I can’t believe that I made it so fast. About the last year I could finally say, ‘I’m doing really good with myself.’”
Commer is the support manager for the Wal-Mart store on North Dirksen Parkway and is on the fast track to becoming an assistant manager trainee. His rise from a homeless teenager to part-time deli employee to top management position shows his “drive inside.”
Wal-Mart store manager Victor Warner remembers Commer did something when he was promoted to support manager that demonstrates the kind of person he is.“When he found out he got the job, he asked me if I had a few minutes to talk to him. So we went to my office, and I’ll never forget the tears in his eyes as he said, ‘Victor, I just want to say thank you,’” Warner said. “And I said, ‘Daronn, you don’t have to thank me, you’ve done this for yourself.’ He said, ‘I know, but without you guys, it wouldn’t have happened.’ That was a very touching moment for me.”
That is a far cry from the young man with two children and no permanent residence who desperately needed a life change in 2011.“Being homeless was tough. You try to stay with people that you know. You are always on the move, nonstop, and you try to focus on work and you still got kids that you try to make time for, still try to be a good father at the same time,” Commer recalled. “It made me feel more hungry. It made me more determined.”
Commer said his drive to succeed comes from his mother, who raised four children as a single mom and worked three jobs. Still, “we grew up with nothing, no hot water, no electricity, going to the neighbor’s house to get water from them. We’ve been through a struggle,” he said.
Commer’s brother used to work at Wal-Mart and had good things to say about the company, and when inside the Dirksen Parkway store one day, Commer “ran into a couple of people who literally came in here with nothing and they told me their story, and they have made it now,” Commer said. “I wanted that to be me.