Stacy Edsall and Leroy Grant are new participants in the Writing Workshop this week. We met at the lunch table and I conducted an interview with them so that we could get to know each other. They ate hot dogs with relish for lunch and wanted to tell their stories (through me) to the readers of StreetWise Magazine.
Both Stacy and Leroy have been StreetWise vendors for several months. Stacy said “it was really hard to get my vendor tag.” She worked hard to accomplish this task and is very proud of herself. Still, we discussed some of the problems she is having finding a spot to sell the magazine and some of the safety concerns she has as a vendor.
One of my favorite moments of the day was listening to Leroy give Stacy support and advice about how to be more successful as a salesperson and how to ask for permission to sell at locations that interest her. Stacy listened and appreciated Leroy’s advice. He was kind and respectful of her in a way that was extremely touching to witness.
Stacy said that one reason she likes being a vendor for StreetWise is that she “makes money legally and doesn’t have to worry about being arrested for panhandling.” She feels better now that she is a vendor.. She used to “feel like a scumbag, but not now.”
I asked Stacy if there was anything she worries about and she said she “worries about being ripped off and robbed because she is on the street.” She and Leroy spoke at length about situations they have heard about or witnessed involving people who work on the streets.
Helping other people and animals is what makes Stacy happiest. She likes to talk to her customers about normal things such as the weather, and says things like, “how ya doin’, try not to work too hard, have a nice day.”
She wants people to know that she is a really good person. Stacy is grateful to StreetWise because she has a place to come relax after work and eat the good food. She is glad they gave her the opportunity to be a vendor.
Stacy lives in a nursing home. She hopes one day to have an apartment or a house of her own.
Besides giving Stacy great advice and the kind of support from a fellow vendor that she really needs, Leroy was open with his own reasons for being a vendor and for cleaning up his life.
Recently Leroy’s baby sister, Monique, passed away. They were close siblings although Monique had moved to Minnesota many years ago. She cleaned up her life when she moved and had a family of wonderful children. Leroy had been delaying moving and making changes in his life for many years. When Monique died Leroy rented a truck and drove to Minnesota for the funeral. In Minnesota Leroy saw how Monique’s life had changed and was inspired to make changes in his own life.
Leroy has been a vendor at StreetWise for a few months now. He likes sales a lot. He says he “is a people person and likes to keep it positive.”
Leroy likes to give students and kids advice about staying in school and staying away from bad people. He tries to encourage the kids to stop swearing and acting tough.
He thinks he is pretty good at reading his customers and deciding if they are in the mood to talk or if it is better just to “step back.”
For Leroy, a good day is when he can make someone smile, laugh and feel happy.
Mondays are hard, Leroy and Stacy both agree. “Customers are usually in a bad mood on Monday,” Stacy said. “Start of a long week. But on Fridays everyone is happier!” added Leroy.
Leroy thinks StreetWise is a great place to work because it offers him a job and some computer skills. Someday Leroy hopes to go back to school and get his GED. He is hoping StreetWise will help him accomplish that goal and his dream of having his own apartment.
I was concerned that running Writing Workshop in the lunch room at StreetWise might be more distracting than the small room we normally use. But the experience was good. Leroy and Stacy worked well together and other vendors in the vicinity were able to see how we worked. I hope each week that more vendors will give Writing Workshop a try. They will make new friends, give each other good advice and feel pride in the work they do together.
Written by: Marcie Bearman
StreetWise Contributor & Writing Workshop Coordinator