Born and raised in the southern Chicago suburb of Harvey, Stewart became homeless after difficult and complicated family/job-related situations forced him to leave his home (despite having an associate’s degree in Computer Technology from ITT Orlando, Florida).
He joined the StreetWise vending program last September 29. Because of his recognizable success, responsibility and honesty, he was admitted to the StreetWise vendors’ Quality Assurance Team (Q.A.T.). The Q.A.T. is an organized group of the StreetWise vendors who prevent fraud and maintain the integrity and reputation of the magazine.
Stewart stands on the streets of Chicago, motivated by the smiles of his loyal customers and his dream to no longer be homeless. He says the people in his community know he has become a “pillar” of the area. If Stewart is not there, consumers worry and are genuinely concerned about his well being. He vends by a local Starbucks and respectfully keeps a professional distance from the store that allows customers to go to him, not the other way around. He makes sure that he doesn’t take any of the business away from Starbucks and keeps a good relationship with them.
As a member of the Q.A.T., Stewart has seen many infractions of the Streetwise Code of Conduct. He made a point of noting the importance of the vendor reputation, and therefore becomes upset when he sees vendors selling inside McDonald’s, trying to inflate prices, or the infamous ‘theft by deception.’ He is a strong believer in breaking the stereotype of homeless people.
A common stereotype is that homeless people are unmotivated and don’t strive to get out of homelessness; whatever money they do get from begging, they immediately spend on their addictions. Stewart wants to prove to everyone that homeless people (especially those at StreetWise) work just as hard as everyone else does, but are coupled with misfortunes.
The homeless at StreetWise work to improve their current situation by acquiring and keeping steady daily jobs as vendors. Stewart’s goal is to graduate from his current school, Truman College, and go back into the world of computer technology like his brother. He brings something special to the area where he works and is a well-spoken individual with many aspirations.
The three writers of this Vendor Profile – Zach Barker, Alex Goff and Kyle Robinson – are high school students from Chicago’s Latin School. They visited our organization in an effort to learn more about homeless supportive services in the city. During their visit, they were able to meet StreetWise Vendor Chorise Stewart and learn about his StreetWise experience.