Our Vendors 

Percy Smith: his first year as vendor rep

Thu, Dec 15, 2011

Percy Smith

Since last February when he was elected by his peers to be the representative in the board of directors, StreetWise vendor Percy Smith has been the voice of the StreetWise vendor force.

“I won the election… and just for people to have faith that I can do a job for them for their benefit, as well as my own, I mean that felt good,” Percy said.

Not only is Percy thankful for the chance to good things for his fellow vendors and the StreetWise organization, but the opportunity has also given him some amazing experiences. He was able to meet both former Mayor Richard Daley and current Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He was also an honored guest at the StreetWise 2011 Hand-Up Gala and was included in a featured video presented to the evening’s guests. “I’m grateful [for it all] and just for being where I am,” Percy said.

Percy’s greatest responsibility as the vendor representative is, of course, his work as the voice of all vendors. He is thrilled with the chance to get to know them and he takes his job as their liaison seriously. “[Since I became vendor representative], I’ve become closer with most of the vendors and I’ve been able to supersede some situations with them. [And I try] to be a role model for others [and] just do the right things for the right reasons,” Percy said.

In addition, Percy also heads a substance abuse support group each week at StreetWise. The group began in 2004 and has become an even stronger entity since the StreetWise move to Uptown. “We’re seeing new people and we have a new area that’s really more convenient,” Percy said. He hopes that the StreetWise vendors who struggle with addiction will come and seek help and support with his group.

He believes that this year went well, but he has high hopes for the upcoming year if he is reelected. “I want to open up the lines of communication with Access Living. Also, my biggest thing is the social work and substance abuse counseling is under the same paradigm. I plan to continue to work closely with those social issues,” Percy explained.

And because Percy sincerely enjoys working one-on-one to help others, he has partnered with an old friend to start a mentoring program. “To be a blessing to a child or a young adult through a mentoring program… I don’t even think there’s words to really describe how much that makes me feel good,” Percy said. This is not the first time Percy has worked mentoring youth. He has also been heavily involved with CeaseFire, a non-profit that works against gang violence, for the past three years.

In the end, Percy hopes that the StreetWise vendors will trust him once again to represent them for another year. “I’ve learned some things the first time and I will use that experience to work harder and to help myself and the vendors to benefit from the StreetWise experience as much as possible. I love StreetWise and whatever I can do to help not just the vendors, but the staff as well, I will… because I want this organization to be forever,” Percy said. “The longer we keep the doors open, the more people we help.”

Written by Brittany Langmeyer
StreetWise Staff

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