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Vendor Profile: Alexandria Banks, Always moving & determined to be successful

Fri, Jan 31, 2014

StreetWise Vendor Alexandria Banks

Photo: Andra Gomberg

Alexandria Banks has been selling StreetWise magazine since the agency first opened its doors over 20 years ago. She’s come so far, having worked a number of jobs, got involved in the community through volunteerism and began fundraising for various causes. She also helps out at StreetWise as a member of the Quality Assurance Team (Q.A.T.), a group of vendors who work to ensure that other vendors are behaving according to the StreetWise Code of Conduct. She currently sells her magazines in Hyde Park, specifically at 55th and Woodlawn, and has become a respected member of the community.

I understand you raise money for various walks in Chicago?

Yes, I do the Breast Cancer Walk, the AIDS Walk, the American Cancer Society walk every year. I just made my 14th year in a row [since I’ve been doing these walks] and if the Lord lets me, I’ll make it 15 years.

How did you get started doing these walks?

I have friends and family who have died from each one of those diseases, so this is my way of doing something to give something back and that’s how I got started doing it. My older sister died of pancreatic cancer. I have a cousin that just died last year of lung cancer and I lost another cousin to breast cancer and I know a few people that have died from AIDS. And my brother died from colon cancer, so there are people that were very close to me have passed away. They are in a better place and they are not suffering anymore, but you still miss them being here on earth. So [these walks] are something that’s important and we need to come together as human beings and support these causes, because if there’s something that can be done as far as research is concerned, it’s going to save someone’s life and may help save my life.
I know that glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure and all of those things run in my family, so now I am trying to watch what I eat and be health-conscious. I also try to cut sugar, but that part is difficult, because my birthday is on Halloween and I trick or treat every year. I still have a big bag of candy and it’s [December]!

Who sponsors you on these walks?
There are people that sponsor me for each walk, such as my Church members, my customers… I get a lot of support. [The American Cancer Society walk] Is the one I raise the most money for. This year I think I raised around $645.

Do you have any goals you’re working towards?
I am in dire need of housing. I am homeless and I stay with this person or I stay with that person. But [I try to have a good attitude] and keep a smile on my face and keep working.

What other jobs have you had?
I worked at Pepe’s, which is a Mexican restaurant in Hyde Park. I aso helped to manage the Hoagie House and I have my own cleaning business. I do have clients that I clean their house for and they have been clients of mine for years. I don’t want to do just one thing, because I’ve always been taught to multi-task and I do it very well. It’s just that I can manage my time. And no matter how busy I get, I still find time to give back to StreetWise as a Q.A.T. and I work in the office one day a week. I also volunteer for my church, St. Thomas the Apostle. I am always busy doing something, I juggle my time well, and I am determined to be successful.

Brittany Langmeyer & Kayla Kiely
StreetWise Publisher & Editorial Intern

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