Posted by StreetWise in Latest News
Ahamand Mayfield .is an old friend of StreetWise Director of Distribution and Vendor Services Greg Pritchett, who reconnected with him in October 2011 as he was walking down Broadway, outside the Uptown offices of StreetWise.
When he became a vendor, the laid-back Mayfield surprised Pritchett with his steady determination.
“He tried a couple locations that didn’t work out but he didn’t give up,” Pritchett said. “He made a smooth transition, built up regular customers. He follows our motto, he ‘treats it like a job.’ He’s very constant about his appearance [a monochromatic white shirt with beige slacks and sweater vest as well as a beige tweed Bulls cap on the day of his interview]. “He’s also not just selling StreetWise but taking advantage of other programs we have at StreetWise. He’s in the workforce development program with Patrick O’Connor to use StreetWise as a stepping stone to get a better job. He’s working with us as QAT (Quality Assurance Team) at the desk [in the workforce development center].
“So overall I’m very proud of Ahamand and his accomplishments. He’s a role model for other vendors,” Pritchett continued. “He’s accomplished a lot in one year that takes some vendors three.”
Six months before coming to StreetWise, Mayfield had gotten a chemical burn on his hand as an apprentice in the heating, ventilating and air conditioning business. He says his hand is “pretty much OK now” but in the interim, “I had just been trying to concentrate on finding some work. I had an interview here or there but nothing concrete had happened.” He had been in a shelter and had moved up to an apartment with rent set according to his income, but he had little savings. He had also completed an HVAC course at a technical school and become certified.
Selling StreetWise, he says, has given him the cash to stay in his apartment and to also build up his business to take it to the next step. Mayfield is consistent about being at his spot at Armitage and Hoyne in Bucktown daily at 7 a.m. until the crowds die out at 10 or 11. Various customers offer him juice or a sandwich, ask to see his resume, or inquire about his job-hunting and offer encouragement. A few have considered hiring him for HVAC.
What motivates him, he said, is “I am not real super religious but if you look at the Lord, he would want you to do something better each day, something positive. If you do something, it makes your mind and body feel better. Like reading, when you read you are nourishing your mind with knowledge.” Mayfield himself enjoys reading technical books about HVAC, about science and about all sports: football, basketball, baseball.
Mayfield was born in Chicago and was briefly raised by his grandmother in Mississippi before returning to Chicago as a pre-teen. He was raised around Ashland and Grand Avenues, then North Avenue and Larrabee Street before moving to the West Side. He still has three sisters and two brothers in the Chicago area, in addition to one brother in Los Angeles and another in Washington, D.C.
The biggest challenge in his life was drug use, which put him in debt. He overcame it, “by staying away from people that was still doing drugs, keeping my mind on doing something more constructive.” He has been clean since 1997 and has gone to trade school as well as some community college.
Short-term, Mayfield’s goal is to find a job where he can be on the payroll 40 hours a week. Long-term, “I think maybe I would like to have better housing, maybe a one bedroom apartment” instead of the one-room kitchen/bedroom/living room he has now.
He would also like to continue his education: “something more in engineering, more environmental, more solar. Energy.”
Mayfield’s one year at StreetWise “helped me stay stable and gave me something to do with a lot of free time. I can use this as a reference that I have been using my time rather than just sitting around, put it on my resume that I have been doing something with my time through StreetWise.”
Written by Suzanne Hanney,