Posted by StreetWise in Vendor Profiles
The red and vibrant attire StreetWise Vendor Melinda Rogers chose to wear on the day we interviewed her seemed incredibly appropriate, considering it perfectly matches up with her fiery personality. When Melinda walks into a room, she owns it.
And that’s exactly the kind of “take control” attitude she’s used since 1992 when she first joined the organization. “There isn’t such thing as ‘can’t.’ Because you can do anything you put your mind to. All it takes is determination and for you to get up off of your butt and go do it! You’re never going to do anything without a positive attitude, so get rid of all that negativity. And never give up… always keep on going,” Melinda said.
Melinda has set such a great example during her time at StreetWise that she was quickly promoted to become a Quality Assurance Team (QAT) member. She works to ensure that the community of vendors are adhering to the high standards that StreetWise sets for them and are representing the organization in a positive way.
Her determined attitude has also helped her rise and conquer many mountains in her lifetime. Melinda struggled financially to raise her children, who are now grown, and had often resorted to panhandling in a desperate attempt to keep food on the table. She’s also had to learn to cope with a rough medical history. “I’ve battled cancer twice and right now [the doctors] think it might be back, so I’m praying that it’s not,” Melinda explained.
But despite her struggles, Melinda has also managed to make many great achievements of which she’s incredibly proud. “I have a high school diploma. I have two and a half years at DeVry. And I have a nurse’s aide certificate,” she said.
Melinda has also worked very hard to infuse good ideals into her children. “I always try to tell my kids to do better than what I did. If I got this, let me see what you can do.” What’s more is that her twin daughters are both learning from Melinda’s example. “My girls, the one is going to be a lawyer and the other is going to be a doctor… both great, great achievements,” Melinda said.
Melinda has many great things to say about her co-workers, as well. “[StreetWise vendors aren’t] out looking for a handout, they’re looking for a hand-up. They need to pay their rent, they want to feed their children, there’s some going to college… I’ve been so proud of some of the vendors that have come through here,” Melinda said.
And if she could give one piece of advice to people out there, she said, “If you’ve got a main vendor that you like, sit down and talk with them. You’ll find out everybody is not an alcoholic, everybody is not on drugs. They just had a bad situation that got them in the predicament that they’re in, so instead of stereotyping them, listen to them.”
Melinda’s current vending location is outside of the Chicago Board of Trade and also in front of Neiman Marcus at Michigan Ave-nue and Superior. She is close to many of her customers and always welcomes more patrons in hopes that they will also become more than supporters, but also friends.
Written by Brittany Langmeyer & Daniela Pavlova
StreetWise Staff & StreetWise Intern