StreetWise Vendor Lawrence Brown is nothing but determined. Though he has continually struggled to find work after being laid off his regular job at Ryerson Steel in 1992, he’s kept his head in the game and worked to make the best out of what life has handed him.
Lawrence has worked for StreetWise on and off during the past 10 years, finding work intermittently. He actually uses StreetWise as a platform for “selling himself,” as he explains. “[Not only do I] sell the magazine, but I sell me. Every magazine that I sell has my resume in it now. I’m trying to move on, you know. It’s been great working with StreetWise, but it’s time to do bigger and better things,” said Lawrence.
His creative self-marketing has actually come to fruition many times. “[My customers] have been hiring me for side jobs. I have two people in particular who have been giving me work for two years now. All of them know that I do construction, because I made it a point to put that out there. I had business cards made up before I went with the resume… I want people to know that this is what I actually do… give me a call,” Lawrence said.
On top of marketing his abilities in construction, Lawrence is also working on improving his managerial skills through his position as a Quality Assurance Team member with StreetWise, a responsibility he was appointed to nearly a year and a half ago. He is in charge of all vendors in the Wicker Park area – where he also vends his magazines – ensuring that they are good and upstanding representations of the StreetWise organization.
“I have to keep track of my vendors in my neighborhood and give new vendors an opportunity. I call these guys every day, every morning, to make sure they’re up and that they’re at their locations. I take it upon myself to do that, because I like to make sure that the product is out there,” Lawrence explained.
“[Being a Q.A.T. member] has given me more people management skills, that’s for sure. I not only deal with vendors in Wicker Park, but I deal with management. The businesses around the area will call me and ask, ‘Where’s my StreetWise vendor?’ So I work with them and I work with the Chicago Police Department and I deal with all the vendors in my neighborhood. It just goes on and on and on,” Lawrence said.
When asked what his motivation is to keep on going every day, Lawrence simply responded, “Rent has to be paid and I have to keep my cell phone on. That’s enough motivation. I’ve got to eat.”
Lawrence has big goals for the future. He and his mother, whom he currently lives with and cares for, are planning to move to Arizona very soon so that they can start a new life. Lawrence is hopeful that the area, one of the largest retirement communities in the United States, will offer more construction opportunities.
Despite his upcoming move, Lawrence wants to thank everyone who has helped him get this far. “[To my customers], thank you very much. I really appreciate the work you’ve given me and I wish I could stay. And to StreetWise… thanks a lot. You’ve been a tremendous help,” Lawrence said.
We wish Lawrence the best in his journey and we believe, based on his character and drive, that he will undoubtedly succeed.
Written by Brittany Langmeyer