Our Vendors 

Linda Carretero: funding her education through StreetWise

Fri, Jun 22, 2012

, her daughter Joy, [left] and her husband Carlos [right].”]

StreetWise Vendor Linda Carretero is doing amazingly well for herself. In addition to her vending, she is also the StreetWise Executive Assistant. She also goes to school at night at Northwestern College and will soon be attending DeVry to earn her bachelor’s in technical management with emphasis on accounting.

And while things are great now, Linda’s past struggle makes her present all the sweeter. “Since I was pregnant at 16, I promised my daughter when she was born to always maintain employment,” Carretero said. “It was a promise I made because I didn’t want her to go through the things my family went through with having poverty. My grandmother had 11 kids, they always struggled to survive and put food on their plate. Then growing up, hearing my mom talk to relatives – not sure if we should pay the electric or pay the rent. I didn’t want my daughter to grow up hearing that in the background – this is not something my daughter should have to worry about. So, I promised myself to maintain employment. I promised my daughter.”

“I worked a job part-time and then I got laid off from that because the gentleman moved his office to Woodstock. I knew another gentleman who I used to bump into on the street selling StreetWise and he was like, ‘Why don’t you come down to StreetWise and do it?’ So, I came down and did it and I have been here for 8 years now.”

Carretero had to drop out of school to have her child, Joy. She returned the following year to earn her diploma. She was 19 years old at the time she graduated and began working at StreetWise.

“I am 27 now,” Carretero said. “I have a lot of pride in StreetWise. With my skillset and degrees I could go and do something else but I do it because I love the organization. It is not about the money. It is about helping other people. A lot of people don’t have that type of reward with their job.”

“It is not just that. I can also tell these vendors that I am doing the same thing you are. Before I come to work, I am out there selling magazines. Then, I come to work my second job. I get up in the morning and I am out there first. I sell from 7 to 9 downtown and then as soon as I am done down there, I hop a bus and come straight here.”

In a way, Carretero’s job found her. It was a case of the right place at the right time. “I never really thought I would be an accountant, but I kind of fell into it here. We needed someone to do the bills and pay the bills quickly, so we didn’t get late fees here. We need to be careful about our budget here [at StreetWise]. I was given the duty about a year after I got here to do the accounting.”

“Now, I make sure the bills get paid on time and I help the organization with their accounting. I really enjoy it.”

Carretero helps individual vendors with their budgets on occasion. She urges vendors to take advantage of the banking seminars here at StreetWise and to open an account. “We are trying to help vendors get into banking,” Carretero said. “A lot of vendors are either afraid of banking or they have never had a bank account or they had one and they owed them so they closed it. We are trying to get vendors to open an account and try it. I guess the fear is – what if I put money in the bank and I need it right away or what if I have a bad day and I need to get all of that money out?”

In the meantime, Carretero, her husband, Carlos and Joy recently moved into a new apartment. “It is something we can come home to and be proud of.”

Andrew Marciniak & Karen Milco, StreetWise Interns

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