Posted by StreetWise in Blog
The following blog post was written by Jillian Schwartz, our newest StreetWise volunteer. She talks about why she chose to spend time with our organization and what she hopes to take away from her experience.
I suppose I should introduce myself: I’m Jillian Schwartz and I’m the new volunteer at StreetWise. I’m also a junior at Loyola University Chicago studying communications. Now that that’s out of the way, back to being a volunteer.
It all started when I signed up for a class that I thought was going to be the “I just have to get through this” kind of class. The first day, however, I found out that it required me to find an organization and rack up 25 volunteer hours. 25 hours?! It sounded like an eternity. After much complaining, I went looking for an organization and ended up stumbling across Brittany Langmeyer sitting at the StreetWise table at one of the career fairs. After walking laps around the fair, I was feeling pretty hopeless and decided I may as well try this one out. After talking for a few minutes, I knew it was perfect.
Those 25 hours I’m supposed to achieve aren’t even on my radar anymore; it’s all about the excitement of meeting the vendors and getting assigned impromptu interviews and blog posts. It only took one day for me to love working in the cramped – but oh-so-cozy – office, filled to the brim with papers and ideas.
To be honest, I didn’t know much about StreetWise before I came here. To be really honest, I just saw it as someone standing on the street corner trying to get me to buy a random magazine as I’m running to class. I had no idea the amount of work and people that are behind it.
I can say that I have cliché goals to “learn what StreetWise has to offer,” but really I just want to know what the people are all about. In the few short hours that I’ve been here, I’ve seen such a sense of family and compassion. When I write stories, I hope to capture that sense of compassion everyone here has for StreetWise. I’ve already been able to talk to a few different people that play big parts in the program.Today, I met with one of the vendors and Quality Assurance Team members, Chorise Stewart. He’s started working in September of last year after he lost his job downtown. After seeing another vendor selling StreetWise on the corner, he found out some orientation times and decided to give it a try. Although he’s not sure how long he plans to stay with StreetWise, he hopes to use it as a stable stepping stone to get him to back to where he wants to be, most likely in IT or public speaking and broadcasting.
Knowing how much I hate Chicago winters even in the short minutes of getting from the bus to the next building, I can’t imagine what the vendors experience having to stand in one place trying to sell magazines to much too “busy” people running up and down the sidewalk. It’s always easier to stay in a warm bed than to stand on a corner, unsure of how the day is going to go.
Chorise also has a place in the Quality Assurance Team that helps oversee the vendors to make sure they understand what it takes to be in a business. It promotes more respect for the vendors and the clients so they can invest more into the business. It just took a little hard work for people to notice and land him this “big brother” role. He just hopes to help uphold the StreetWise name, so it’s important that people — no matter the background — know what work needs to be put in.
“No matter where you come from, be it Park Avenue or a from a park bench, everyone is going through something,” Chorise said.
I can’t say it any better than how Chorise put it. At StreetWise, though, I’ve seen that the people are getting off that park bench, magazines in hand, and starting to walk down Park Avenue.